University News

Distance Learning Earns U.S.News Rankings

January 8, 2014

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

Western is ranked 61st out of 210 colleges from across the U.S. in "Best Online Education Degree Programs: Bachelor's" category and is one of three Illinois public universities in the top 100. In the 2013 rankings, Western was listed 44th out of 160 colleges from across the U.S. in the "Bachelor's Degree" category. The University offers 302 online classes (222 undergraduate; 80 graduate), and seven degree programs, including the longstanding Bachelor of Arts in General Studies (BGS), which offers students the option of obtaining their degree entirely via distance learning opportunities, or a combination of on-campus and distance learning classes.

"We are excited to expand the educational opportunities at Western Illinois University with the continued growth of our online courses and degrees," said Richard Carter, executive director of the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach. "Western is committed to providing access to high quality courses and programs. When we offer these classes and degrees online, we extend our reach beyond the walls of our institution. This allows individuals from across the world the opportunity to achieve their dream of obtaining a college degree."

According to Carter, the BGS program, originally called the Board of Governor's degree and later the Board of Trustees degree program, was established to serve individuals who were unable to attend a traditional college program due to family, work or community obligations. The program allows the student to design her or his program to meet individual educational goals, and students are 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 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 one of seven bachelor's degree programs in the U.S. endorsed by the National Fire Academy (NFA).

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.

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