Graduate programs in Samford University's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing earned a #35 national ranking for online education in new rankings released Jan. 15 by U.S. News & World Report. Samford was in the top half of all the accredited nursing schools included in this year's overall rankings.
Samford programs with online courses are master's level degrees in family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and management. Samford also offers the doctor of nursing practice as a distance learning degree, but doctoral programs were not factored in the latest U.S. News rankings.
Samford was the highest ranked program among both Southern Conference peers and historically Baptist institutions.
The rankings were based on four criteria: faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, student engagement, and admission selectivity. Samford had especially high scores in faculty credentials and student engagement, according to the U.S. News rankings.
"Dr. Jane Martin and the graduate faculty are to be commended for their outstanding work related to the creation and implementation of a quality online graduate nursing education program," said Nena F. Sanders, Ida V. Moffett Nursing School dean. "The students and alumni of our graduate programs consistently rate the graduate faculty as committed and dedicated to creating a learning environment that is strongly related to student engagement and the achievement of student outcomes. This recognition affirms that we are committed to providing exceptional online programs at the graduate level."
Enrollment in Samford's graduate nursing programs has increased significantly in the last decade, including more than 20 percent in the last five years, Sanders noted, with the availability of online courses and expansion of graduate programs as two of the factors in that growth. Fall 2012 undergraduate enrollment was 427, a five percent increase over the previous year. And, a total of 267 were enrolled in graduate programs. The school awarded 110 graduate degrees during the 2011-12 academic year.
The recognition comes at a time that Samford is placing more emphasis on distance learning, according to David Hakanson, Samford's chief information officer. He is leading a current university-wide study on distance learning.
"This ranking demonstrates Samford's commitment to improving academic services to providing high quality degree programs, with a growing focus on online delivery, to reach students across the country," Hakanson said, "and the nursing school is serving as a model for the rest of the university in how we can do so successfully."
According to U.S. News, a distance learning program is "a program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses that incorporate Internet-based learning technologies. Distance education courses are courses that deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously."