Online IT master's program leads a Mason surge in U.S. News rankings

For Daniel Garrison, what distinguishes George Mason University’s online applied information technology master’s program is how it continues to reinvent itself.

“One of the things the program has done over the past year is fine-tune itself in terms of the rigor,” said Garrison, director of online education in George Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering. “So not only what the program offers, but how we deliver it is what has been lifting us.”

The result: the program is tied for 23rd nationally by U.S. News & World Report in its just-released assessment of online master’s programs, a jump of 13 spots from 2017.

Mason’s online systems engineering program, which was unranked last year, is tied for 57th nationally.  The School of Business’ MS in accounting tied for 56th among online non-MBA programs, up seven spots. The College of Education and Human Development’s online programs tied for 115th nationally, up eight spots.

“This move in the rankings is the result of the constant innovation of our MSA leadership, the success our students enjoy in the market, and the growing recognition of those accomplishments by our peers,” said Anne Magro, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Business. “We look forward to continued success as we introduce our new government accounting certificate with Kearney & Company, and work with leading international accounting firms to integrate data analytics into our curriculum.”

The rankings spotlight the continued rise in national prominence for Mason’s online applied information technology master’s program, which also ranked 13th in the United States by The Best Schools, and 35th by College Choice.

Mason’s cybersecurity programs are ranked eighth nationally by Cyber Degrees.

“We work hard to make our programs relevant to both students and employers,” said Stephen Nash, Volgenau’s senior associate dean. “A lot of thought goes into including courses about topics that are valued in the marketplace, so students are ready to go to work. That attention to IT work both in government and business makes the program especially attractive.”

U.S. News bases its rankings on five categories: student engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, student services and technology, and admissions selectivity.

Mason’s applied information technology master’s program was the university’s first program to formally go online, Garrison said.

“It’s always been a great program, and it’s growing,” he said. “It’s great U.S. News is backing what we already knew.”