University News

Distance Learning Earns U.S.News Rankings

January 17, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- For the second consecutive year, Western Illinois University's distance learning program has been recognized by U.S.News Best Online Education Program Rankings.

This year, Western is ranked 44th out of 160 colleges from across the U.S. in "Best Online Education Degree Programs: Bachelor's" category and is one of two Illinois public universities in the top 50. In the 2012 rankings, Western was listed 76th out of 172 colleges from across the U.S. in the "Teaching Practices and Student Engagement" category. While WIU offers numerous online classes, one program, the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies offers its majors the option of obtaining their degree entirely via distance learning opportunities, or a combination of on-campus and distance learning classes.

According to Richard Carter, executive director of the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach, the General Studies program was created to serve those who were unable to attend a traditional college program due to family, work or community obligations. Rather than requiring a specific major, the program allows the student to design her or his program to meet individual educational goals. Students are also eligible for academic credit for college-level learning that was done in a non-collegiate setting, such as the military or on-the-job training.

In addition to the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies, firefighters earning a BGS degree from Western also have the opportunity to obtain a certificate in fire administration and management and a certificate in fire prevention technology. Western's General Studies program is just one of seven bachelor's degree programs in the U.S. endorsed by the National Fire Academy (NFA).

"Western's degree program, coupled with the certificate programs, allows firefighters from across the United States to earn their bachelor's degree online and receive certification from the NFA without leaving their job or their community," Carter added.

Western has been offering courses via distance learning since the 1970s, and continues to expand its online and distance learning offerings to reach more individuals who may be placebound, Carter noted. During Spring, Summer and Fall 2012, the University offered 602 online sections, filling 10,688 seats within course selections, compared to 383 online sections of courses (9,165 seats) in 2011.

For more information on distance learning at Western, visit or contact Carter at (309) 298-1929 or

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations