UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the fifth straight year, Penn State World Campus is the most recognized institution in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of the best online degree programs in the country.

The U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Online Programs rankings placed Penn State World Campus in the top 10 of five graduate degree disciplines and the overall bachelor’s degree programs category. 

The six top-10 rankings were the most of any college or university nationwide.

Best online degree programs rankings

Here are Penn State World Campus’ rankings:

  • No. 4, online graduate engineering
  • No. 7 (tie), online graduate education
  • No. 7 (tie), online MBA
  • No. 8 (tie), online graduate computer IT
  • No. 10 (tie), online bachelor’s programs
  • No. 10, online graduate business (non-MBA)

Penn State World Campus has had the most top-10 placements in U.S. News’ best online programs rankings since 2017.

Renata Engel, vice provost for online education at Penn State, said the rankings are another indicator of the University’s commitment to providing a top-notch learning experience to its online learners.

“We are honored to be recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for offering some of the most high-quality online degree programs in the country,” said Engel, who oversees Penn State World Campus. “The combination of Penn State faculty who are scholars or experts in their fields, contemporary curriculum that is engaging, and staff that are committed to comprehensive support services create learning environments across the broad range of disciplines that support students to pursue and realize their educational goals.”

The Best Online Programs rankings include additional lists, such as the best programs for veteran students and the best specialty programs within certain academic areas.

Here are some highlights of Penn State World Campus’ rankings:

Penn State World Campus is No. 1 for its bachelor’s degree program in psychology, which includes a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science. This was the first year U.S. News included a psychology program ranking.

In the graduate program rankings, Penn State World Campus was No. 3 for graduate engineering management and No. 9 for business analytics among online MBA programs.

Each year, U.S. News develops the rankings based on statistical surveys submitted by colleges and universities as well as data collected in a separate peer-reputation survey.

Surveys for the bachelor’s programs ranked more than 350 institutions on the categories of engagement, services and technology, faculty credentials and training, and expert opinion. 

The surveys for graduate degree programs measured those four categories as well as student excellence.

Best online degree programs for veterans

U.S. News also ranked Penn State World Campus in the top 10 of six categories of its Best Online Programs for Veterans lists. 

Those rankings are based on the same factors as its Best Online Programs rankings in addition to an institution’s ability to make college more affordable and accessible through the GI Bill® or other grant-in-aid programs designed for military students. The rankings also factor in whether the programs enroll at least 25 military students at the undergraduate level and 10 at the graduate level. 

Here are the rankings for Penn State World Campus in Best Online Programs for Veterans:

  • No. 1, online graduate engineering
  • No. 3, online graduate business (non-MBA)
  • No. 3, online graduate education 
  • No. 5, online MBA
  • No. 5, online computer IT
  • No. 7 (tie), online bachelor’s

Penn State was one of the pioneers in online higher education when it launched Penn State World Campus in 1998. 

Now, more than 20 years later, Penn State World Campus offers more than 150 degree and certificate programs online. It counts more than 14,000 students around the globe and more than 25,000 graduates.

Learn more about the bachelor's and graduate degree programs offered online through Penn State World Campus.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at