Joliet, Ill. – U.S. News & World Report released its 2021 Best Online Programs rankings today, and the University of St. Francis (USF) is proud to announce that its online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program has been ranked as the top program of its type in Illinois.

The publication also recognized four other online programs offered by USF, including two named as the best private programs in the State.

Recognized USF programs included:

  • Online MBA Program – #1 ranked program in Illinois (one of the top 43 percent in the US);
  • Online Graduate Education Program – #1 ranked private program in Illinois (top 28 percent nationally);
  • Online Graduate Business Program (excluding MBA) – #1 ranked private program in Illinois (top 44 percent nationally);
  • Online Bachelor’s Program – #3 ranked private program in Illinois (top 16 percent nationally), and;
  • Online Nursing Program – #4 ranked private program in Illinois (top 43 percent nationally).

Throughout 2020, USF celebrated its centennial and the many significant milestones that have contributed to the University’s success to date. Among those celebrated milestones was USF first introducing online courses and degree programs in 1998. Last spring, USF’s vast experience administering high quality, academic programs remotely was of high benefit and played a key role to its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For over twenty years, USF has continued to expand its comprehensive online programs and is now recognized for offering many of the State’s top private, online programs. The University’s experience in this area played an important role in the call to pivot to remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as with the programs recognized by U.S. News & World Report, we largely credit the success of this pivot to a faculty committed to high-quality teaching via all delivery methods,” USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., said.

While colleges and universities across the country are developing a larger presence in world of online learning in higher education, as well, USF continues to stand out among its peers. One primary reason for this, according to Eric Wignall, USF Vice President of Admissions, Enrollment Services and Marketing, is the University’s student-first focus.

“They need to learn about our world and be prepared to join a profession, start a business, care for a patient, teach in a classroom, or explain ideas in a boardroom. These rankings are a wonderful validation of those efforts,” said Wignall.

“At the core, USF focuses on students. Yes, we concentrate our efforts on their safety and pay close attention to making our campus a great place to live, but we start and end with student learning. Our mission is to prepare women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership,” said Wignall.

“High rankings are nice, but our student’s success is the real measure of what we are doing. Their high graduation rate, the internships, and the great jobs they land after graduation are the best ‘grades’ we can earn for USF.  When our students learn more they can do more, and they get real value from what St. Francis offers,” Wignall added.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the place for quality online options, web-based education was already gaining momentum in higher education, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Nearly 3.3 million higher education students enrolled exclusively in distance education programs in fall 2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Whether a student is just starting a degree program or switched to online learning due to these unprecedented circumstances, online colleges can provide the flexibility to study from anywhere. Students with family responsibilities or full-time jobs may also be able to work around their own schedules. Whether a student is just starting a degree program or switched to online learning due to these unprecedented circumstances, online colleges can provide the flexibility to study from anywhere,” reported.

Visit for more information on USF’s online programs.

Visit for more information on U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Online Programs rankings.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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