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Online Graduate Program Moves Universities up in National Rankings

California State University at Fullerton (CSUF) improved its position this year in the annual ranking of colleges and universities conducted by U.S. News and World Report. The magazine has a comprehensive rating program for several categories: undergraduate schools, public and private schools nationally, and what the magazine calls "Public Schools Masters Universities." The category ranks public colleges and universities that offer graduate programs - masters and doctorates - as well as undergraduate baccalaureate degrees.

In this category CSUF moved from tenth position to eighth, with its online graduate programs having a positive effect on the school's status. According to the school newspaper The Daily Titan, CSUF graduate students can choose from among 50 graduate degrees. Included in the academic catalogue are online programs for an information technology degree, a graduate program in the educational sector for an instructional technology degree. There is also an online program for a masters in software engineering.

Director of Graduate Studies Katherine Powers sees the beginning of the University's online graduate programs as significant for the school's impact both regionally and in areas beyond California. The program not only reaches to students in Orange County and Los Angeles region, but "serve a broad area of students nationally and internationally," said Powers. The graduate program is very flexible and offers high-quality courses, night and online courses are added to be better accommodating with students.

CSUF's sister campus, Sonoma State University, is tied in the eighth spot for Public Masters Universities rankings; their approach ton augmenting student access has been to open four Extended Learning centers around Northern California in Ukiah, the Napa Valley and near its campus in Sonoma that provide a blend of online courses and classroom instruction delivered remotely through the use of video links to the main campus. Degrees in this program include a baccalaureate in Liberal Studies.

One of the driving forces behind the development of online programs at the California State Universities has been the massive budget cuts that have occurred in education throughout the state. At some point the investment in remote facilities and course preparation will pay off in the form of extended enrollment.

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