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January 10, 2012
Two graduate programs at East Carolina University have been named in the nation's top 20 online education programs in a new ranking by U.S. News & World Report.
The ECU College of Nursing ranked 18 out of 79 master's or doctorate of nursing practice programs in the country. The online MBA program in the College of Business ranked 17 out of 161 graduate business programs. The results appear today on http://www.usnews.com.
U.S. News ranked 523 online master's degree programs in business, engineering, nursing, education and computer information in four categories: admissions selectivity, student engagement and accreditation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology. Programs had to have at least 80 percent of their course content available online to be considered.
U.S. News said that the number of students enrolled in online degrees is growing rapidly, noting a doubling of enrollment between 2007 and 2011 driven in part by a competitive job market and stagnant economy.
"Those prospective students - a very large proportion of whom are working adults - lack needed information to help them determine the relative strengths and weaknesses between online degree programs that they are considering attending. U.S. News undertook this project in an effort to begin filling the information gap," the magazine's staff said in a news release.
The College of Nursing has been consistently named since 2004 by U.S. News as one of the largest distance education programs in the country. But the new ranking assesses qualitative categories over size.
"We are so pleased to receive this national recognition for our online graduate program," said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing. "Our faculty and staff work diligently to maintain a quality program and to provide support equivalent to services on campus. Our program provides both hands-on clinical and virtual experiences that simulate the clinical environment using cutting edge technology."
Nursing offers seven online options in the master's of science in nursing program: adult nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and nurse midwifery. Of 504 total students enrolled in the MSN program, 446 or 88 percent are distance education students.
The online program in the College of Business developed from a single course offering in 1998 to undergraduate and graduate degrees in numerous concentrations today. More than 800 students are enrolled in the online MBA program.
"In a world with increasing 'diploma mills,' we are proud that the College of Business continues to maintain its high quality standards," said Dr. Stanley Eakins, dean of the College of Business. "We strive to prepare both faculty to teach online and students to learn online while using a variety of technological and instructive methods to do so. It's no surprise the College of Business is looked upon as a leader in distance education innovation."