According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, about 1 in 4 students – or 4.5 million – took at least one online course towards a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

To help students research and compare offerings in this trending marketplace, U.S. News released its highly anticipated 2015 Best Online Programs rankings, a comprehensive assessment of the best online Bachelor’s degrees in the country, as well as the top Master’s e-programs in business, engineering, computer information technology, education and nursing.

In 2015, U.S News culled through 1,200+ online degree programs, a 20% increase from the previous year. To determine the best online options, the media company judged schools based on four general categories, Student Engagement (40%), Faculty Credentials and Training (20%), Peer Reputation (20%), and Student Services and Technology (20%). For a deeper dive into how these rankings were assembled, you can view U.S. News’ complete methodology here.

For Online Bachelor’s Degrees, the largest list of the collection, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) tied for second with a Student Engagement score of 100. This particular category is measured by weighing a variety of factors, including graduation rates, best practices, class size, retention rate, and time to degree deadline.

UIC also received a 70 for Faculty and a 74 for Student Services, earning an overall score of 97. Penn State University ranked #1 with an overall score of 100 and UIC tied Dayton State College and Western Kentucky University.

Several other Illinois schools cracked the top 100 online Bachelor’s programs, with University of Illinois—Springfield (#20), Loyola University Chicago (#47), Western Illinois University (#63), University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign (#82), and McKendree University (#98).

Outside of Bachelor’s programs, Southern Illinois University—Carbondale has the #36 best online MBA program and the University of St. Francis in Joliet has the #49th. In the STEM arena , the University of Illinois—Chicago and the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign have the 29th and 35th best online engineering programs, respectively.

You can view all of U.S. News’ online program rankings here.

(Updated to reflect the University of Illinois at Chicago at #2. We previously had the University of Chicago in that spot).

(Image via wiki commons).