Southeast Twice Honored for Affordable Online Programs
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Southeast Missouri State University’s online programs have been honored twice in the past week for their affordability by two separate ranking organizations.
OnlineU.org and AffordableCollegesOnline.org have both recognized Southeast’s online programs for their affordability and quality.
Southeast is featured on the new website, www.OnlineU.org, for offering two of the nation’s most affordable college online degree programs. Southeast’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing RN to BSN completion program is ranked second on the site among the nation’s top 25 online nursing degree programs. In addition, Southeast’s online master’s degree and certification programs in education are ranked 20th among the nation’s top 25 online education degree programs.
Meanwhile, AffordableCollegesOnline.org (AC Online) identified Southeast’s online degree programs as some of the most affordable in Missouri. Southeast’s online degree programs are ranked eighth in Missouri by AC Online. AC Online focused specifically on distance learning options from public and private non-profit institutions with full accreditation and compiled a list of all of the fully accredited four-year online colleges in Missouri, ranking them from lowest tuition to highest. Thirty-nine colleges and universities in the state are ranked. The rankings are available athttp://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/online-colleges/missouri/.
“For-profit schools no longer dominate the distance-learning landscape,” said Dan Schuessler, founder and chief executive officer of AC Online, which provides students with information about affordable higher education options. “So many of today’s top universities have added full online degree programs to their catalogs, making it much easier for non-traditional students to receive a quality education.”
Opponents of for-profit distance learning have cited both quality and affordability as drawbacks of the online model.
“Offering students great online programs is only half the battle,” said Schuessler. “The colleges on our list offer students quality, flexibility and affordability.”
Similarly, OnlineU.org applauded Southeast’s online RN to BSN program and its master’s and certification programs in education for the same attributes – affordability and quality.
Southeast’s online RN to BSN program is one of only two nursing programs in Missouri ranked in the top 25 by OnlineU.org. In addition, Southeast’s online master’s degree and certification programs in education are among just three education programs across the state ranked in the top 25 by the website.
Southeast’s online education master’s degree offerings include the Master of Arts in secondary education, the Master of Arts in exceptional child education and the Master of Arts in elementary education. Southeast offers an online alternative certification program and Autism Spectrum Disorder certification.
Dr. Allen Gathman, associate dean for online learning at Southeast, says the University online programs are not only affordable, but their quality is among the best. Southeast’s nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing. Additional evidence of the program’s quality is that it meets the Nine Essentials of Baccalaureate Nursing Education developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
“Meeting these Nine Essentials ensures that a curriculum is designed for the 21st century and meets the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendations for the core knowledge required of all healthcare professionals,” said Dr. Janet Weber, Southeast professor of nursing. “Focus is given to patient centered care, inter-professional teams, evidence based practice, quality improvement, patient safety, informatics, clinical reasoning/critical thinking, genetics and genomics, cultural sensitivity, professionalism, and practice across the lifespan in an ever-changing and complex healthcare environment.”
Southeast’s online education programs are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). NCATE is a national accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. NCATE determines which schools, colleges, and departments of education meet rigorous national standards in preparing teachers and other school specialists for the classroom.
“Southeast’s education programs are very highly regarded, and the institution has a long tradition of educating teachers,” Gathman said.
Dr. Diana Rogers-Adkinson, dean of the College of Education at Southeast Missouri State University, said, “Our programs are nationally accredited, which speaks to the quality, with an emphasis on access through keeping costs low for students.”
The quality of online courses at Southeast Missouri State University continues to improve this fall as faculty work judiciously behind the scenes to create a first-rate, rigorous virtual classroom.
Many Southeast faculty members are structuring their online courses using Quality Matters Rubric Standards, which certify the design of online coursework. Gathman says a concerted effort is under way to encourage Southeast faculty to have their online courses peer reviewed and to redesign their online coursework with Quality Matters standards “from the ground up.”
Weber said all RN to BSN online courses developed have been reviewed by online teaching experts in Southeast’s Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning prior to being taught for the first time.“We use the Quality Rubric to ensure that each online nursing course meets the criteria,” she said. “The nursing faculty often invites other faculty into their courses to share their teaching techniques as well as the course content. It is amazing what we learn from each other.”
Students also evaluate all online nursing courses each semester, and the evaluations of faculty teaching online nursing courses are shared with an RN-BSN Curriculum Committee. One of those faculty members, Cheryl Alberternst, is studying to become a peer reviewer of online courses in the Quality Matters Program.
While Southeast continues these efforts, SR Education Group, a provider of authoritative online education resources based in Kirkland, Wash., last week launched www.OnlineU.org. This is a new free online guide enabling students to compare all available U.S. online degrees on quality and affordability in 12 disciplines ranging from business and healthcare to computer science and social work. OnlineU’s mission is to refocus the higher education conversation around affordability and quality and make access to online college information more transparent.
OnlineU recently completed extensive research into the cost of attending different online colleges to enable students to find the most affordable online degrees.
“With the average price of college skyrocketing forcing many students to rely on student loans to fund their education, we were impressed with Southeast Missouri State University’s ability to continue to offer online degrees in education and nursing at a reasonable price,” said Kim Wetter, head of marketing at SR Education Group.
SR Education Group is focused on helping students find the best school to fit both their budget and educational needs.
“We are excited to feature your school as offering some of the most affordable degree programs available online,” Wetter said.
The new website’s 2014 Most Affordable U.S. Online College Rankings showcases online colleges that strive to make higher education more affordable for parents, working professionals and any student with many responsibilities, time constraints and budget considerations. OnlineU hopes to enable more Americans to go to college by being part of the solution to the nation’s student debt crisis.
Because location is no longer a limiting factor in a student’s college choice, online education is a great way for colleges and universities to finally compete in a truly customer-driven marketplace. The average tuition fees of the colleges featured in the 2014 Most Affordable U.S. Online College Rankings are only $10,384, which is less than half of the national average, representing savings of more than $60,000 over four years, according to OnlineU.
“Our main objective is to shift the discussion around higher education from prestige and selectivity to quality and affordability while empowering students to become better-informed consumers,” explains Sung Rhee, CEO of SR Education Group. “Skyrocketing college costs combined with the rising burden of student debt are compelling many American families to look for more affordable college education options. Prior to OnlineU.org, it was nearly impossible for students to easily and quickly compare the prices of online degrees across a variety of schools. The 2014 Most Affordable U.S. Online College Rankings put tuition fees at the forefront of the conversation and show students which institutions provide their degree of interest at a price that meets their budget expectations.”