A U.S. military veteran registers to meet potential employers at a job fair for former military personel on the campus of Rutgers University on March 13, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. - 

Updated (9:35am EST): The king of college rankings is adding a new list to its empire. U.S. News & World Report is out today with its first-ever ranking of online programs for military veterans. With billions of dollars in college aid up for grabs, educating veterans is big business.

Roughly half a million veterans go to college with benefits from the Post-9/11 GI-Bill, according to Student Veterans of America. A lot of them juggle work schedules and families, so they go online, says the group’s executive director Michael Dakduk.

“Online learning is very convenient for adult learners, so military veterans naturally gravitate toward programs that are online,” he says.

The schools ranked by U.S. News may give credit for military experience and offer flexibility for students taking courses at more than one school. The programs were also judged on measures like graduation rates and student debt levels, says Eric Brooks, data research analyst at U.S. News.

“Our ranking is looking not just at what benefits the programs are providing specific to veterans, but also simply how good these programs are in general,” he says.

Some for-profit colleges have been under scrutiny for aggressively recruiting veterans, who wind up deep in debt with little to show for it. Student Veterans of America’s Michael Dakduk says colleges of all stripes can do more to help those students succeed.

The top 10 Online Bachelors Degree programs for Veterans:

1. Pace University
2. Brandman University
3. Bellevue University
4. Regent University
5. University of Nebraska - Omaha
6. Charter Oak State College
7. Post University
8. Ball State University
9. Fort Hays State University
10. California Baptist University

The top 10 Online MBA programs for Veterans:

1. Washington State University
2. Central Michigan University
3. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
4. Temple University (Fox)
5. West Virginia University
6. University of Colorado - Denver
7. University of Mississippi
8. Ball State University (Miller)
9. University of Memphis (Fogelman)
10. Columbia College

You can find the rankings for other graduate programs, such as education, nursing, engineering at U.S. News & World Report's website.


Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports