Saint Leo University was named by Military Times this week as the No. 1 university in the country for educating veterans. Saint Leo ranked first in the nation in the Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges 2020 in the Online & Nontraditional Schools category. 

This ranking recognizes the university's commitment to educating military personnel, veterans, and their families wherever they may be—even if they are deployed. This marks a jump in the ranking from last year's fourth place, and eighth place in 2017. It is the first time Saint Leo University has ranked first in the United States.

In their 10th year, the rankings are based on the results of Military Times' annual survey, which assesses veteran- and military-student services and rates of academic achievement as well as a detailed review of public data collected by federal agencies. Higher education institutions were evaluated in five categories: university culture, student support, academic policies, academic outcomes/quality, and cost and financial aid.

"At Saint Leo, we strive to help all of our military students and student-veterans earn their degrees and achieve their dreams," said Dr. Luke McClees, director of Saint Leo's Office of Military Affairs and Services. "We help them whether they take classes at one of our education centers, on a military base, study online, or attend our University Campus. It is important for us to help those who have served our country transition into civilian life. We provide the support they need when and where they need it."

Explaining the ranking, Military Times wrote about Saint Leo University, "As part of their military service and training, troops often learn many skills that their civilian counterparts take college classes to learn. But some colleges are stingy about awarding academic credit for that knowledge. Saint Leo takes the opposite approach. The school allows vets to test out of classes with exams such as the College Level Examination Program, or CLEP, and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests. In addition, vets can get more academic credit through portfolio reviews of their military training at the school. Taken together, these can help vets earn degrees much more quickly."

Dr. Jen Shaw, vice president of Student Affairs cited the special services offered to students as the reason for the No. 1 ranking.

"We serve active military and veterans in a wide variety of ways including having four fully stocked Military Resource Centers, targeted funding such as the Veterans Emergency Fund, dedicated staff, Veterans Appreciation Week and other programming, specialized career services, and abundant student-centered resources that strive to help our military serving and all students succeed at Saint Leo University and beyond," Shaw said.

In addition to University Campus in St. Leo, FL, north of Tampa, students are educated at more than 30 teaching locations, including many located on military bases. Saint Leo teaches at one of the largest naval bases in the world, Naval Station Norfolk, as well as at other bases in Virginia, Florida, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi.

"We are so proud that Saint Leo University has been named No. 1 in the country for educating our veterans," said Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese, university president. "The staff and faculty of Saint Leo are dedicated to making sure our student-veterans and our military-affiliated students have the best educational experience. We've added Military Resource Centers at several of our locations to help serve our veterans, and Saint Leo continues to look for ways to assist our military students. More than 5,000 students who are serving or have served in the military are enrolled at Saint Leo, and that speaks to the strong support the university offers them."

More information about the rankings may be found at To learn more, visit

Saint Leo's Office of Military Affairs and Services may be reached at or call (352) 588-8853.