University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has been named among the best online graduate programs in the fields of business, engineering and nursing.

U.S. News and World Report announced its top 100 in each category Wednesday. More than 1,000 applications for ranking were submitted.

The university's online engineering program was ranked 40th nationally, with Columbia University in New York City getting the top spot. UCCS's online graduate program in nursing was 52nd, with St. Xavier in Chicago, first. The online graduate business program was ranked 82.

In making the announcement, U.S. News and World Report noted that one of the biggest changes to higher education has been the definition of a typical student. In the past, it was dependents learning full time. These days, students are older and employed and find online learning jibes with their schedules.

Venkat Reddy, assistant vice chancellor of UCCS online education, said that holds true for his students, too.

"Online education provides a valuable alternative to individuals seeking career advancement while often balancing work and family responsibilities. The same quality for which UCCS is known is available anytime anywhere."

About 246 students are enrolled in the graduate online business program, 50 in engineering and 71 in nursing.

The online graduate nursing program has been particularly popular in southeast Colorado where students can't easily make it to classes in Colorado Springs, said UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton. Likewise, the business program is ideal for those who travel for work. "They get to Wichita for the night, and say, 'I'll do my accounting classwork tonight,'" Hutton said.

Campus students often take online classes, too. They don't have to trudge across campus in cold weather, and if they miss a class session, they can get it online or repeat lectures.

The U.S. News editors used factors such as student engagement, admission selectivity, reputation, faculty credentials, student services and technology to determine rankings. View the list at