UTSA Online ranked No. 85 in U.S. News rankings for online bachelor’s programs


William Barnes

Academic Innovation plays a key role in course design for UTSA Online. The department recently moved to a new space in the MS building (pictured above) which will allow for more in-person interactions with faculty and students.

Gauri Raje, News Editor

Last week, UTSA Online ranked No. 85 in the U.S. News and World Report’s list of “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs of 2023.” The ranking was 161 spots higher than the program’s previous rank of No. 246 in 2021.

According to U.S. News, the criteria for evaluation included engagement, services and technologies, expert opinion/peer assessment, and faculty credentials and training. 

“[The ranking] has nothing to do with the quantity. It has to do with the quality,” Suzana Díaz Rosencrans, assistant vice provost for Online Programs, said. 

Melissa Vito, vice provost for academic innovation, explained that the Academic Innovations team works very closely with faculty to ensure the quality of classes and instruction for the program, given its asynchronous nature. This includes regular assessments and collaborations between Academic Innovation’s instructional design team and faculty to develop creative and interactive courses.

“For online students, who are never on campus, it’s triply important that the experience be strong for them because it’s the way that they connect to faculty,” Vito said. “They’re not going to take a couple of face-to-face classes and feel comfortable there.”

With regard to the online program’s quality, Rosencrans also highlighted the importance of retention rates. Over the past year, the program’s retention rates have been high, with 83% of students from the Fall 2021 semester returning for the Spring 2022 and 85% of students from the Summer 2022 semester returning for the Fall 2022 semester. 

“[The program’s retention rates are a] reflection of the quality of the teaching [and] the quality of the curriculum. It speaks well of the team that ensures that we get the right students into classes [and] it speaks highly of our advisors [and graduate advisors of record],” Rosencrans added.

Through the degree programs it offers and its asynchronous nature, UTSA online caters to the needs of “[a] different population [of students] than what [one] would see on campus.” According to Rosencrans, students are given extensive help navigating the admission process and other things like financial aid. 

Since the program’s significant growth in enrollment last spring, the program has also added to the degree programs it offers. While this was not a factor considered for the U.S. News rankings, Rosencrans explained that the program’s emphasis on quality is also reflected in adding new degree options. 

“We’re not just throwing up any degree online,” Rosencrans said. “There needs to be a workforce need that is met. It needs to serve our local population, and there has to be the potential for growth for us to want to partner and move forward.”

Vito also emphasized that UTSA Online plays a significant role in the university’s outlook on social mobility, adding that the online program can help its students advance in their respective careers. 

“Having a strong online program, where students come in and succeed and they don’t come in and go back out again, is an important [part] in the broader kind of way that we think about UTSA and social mobility,” Vito explained.

“We’re not trying to take over the world,” Rosencrans said. “We’re just trying to grow our roots even deeper here in the community in San Antonio and help our students meet their path. Whether it’s a career, whether it’s getting that degree, whether it’s making their families proud [or] setting an example for their children — whatever that is, we want them to succeed.”