LU News Archive

Online nursing graduate program tapped No. 2 by U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report ranked Lamar University’s online graduate nursing program as second in the nation out of 101 programs evaluated. 

The ranking is based on four criteria: faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, student engagement, and admissions selectivity. 

“We are very proud of our well prepared faculty,” said Nancy Blume, director of graduate nursing studies at Lamar. “They are the backbone of our successful program.” 

“We are proud that the Lamar University’s Joanne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing was named at No. 2,” said Brenda Nichols, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The top score was 75.0 and Lamar scored 74.5. The next Texas school on the list, UT-Tyler, came in at 11.” 

“Of the four major areas considered in these rankings, we scored highest in Faculty Credentials and Training,” Nichols said. “This area considered the number of doctoral-prepared faculty teaching courses, the percentage of tenure/tenured track faculty teaching courses, their preparation for teaching online and commitment to continue professional development.”

Lamar’s nursing program’s second highest score was in student engagement, a reflection on its best practices, class size, student retention and graduation rates, Nichols said. The program also scored well in the area of student services and technology.

Other Texas school rankings were UT-Tyler, 11, Texas Christian, 25, Texas Tech, 30, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 31, UT-El Paso, 56, San Angelo, 64, and UTMB, 65.

“I believe that this ranking proves that we have made the best choices for ourselves and our students as we have moved to an online graduate program,” Nichols said. “We offer students an excellent education, at a great cost and have tremendous faculty.”

To create the 2013 Best Online Nursing Programs rankings, the organization compiled a list of schools offering these master's degree programs online and collected data from the schools. 

Statistical questionnaires were sent to 471 institutions with CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) or NLNAC (National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission) accredited graduate degree programs in nursing. Of those, 101 schools offering a master's in nursing degree through Internet-based distance education courses in a manner that met the definition of distance education used by the U.S. Department of Education were evaluated.

U.S. News collected additional statistical information from the schools with online programs, and this information was scored on student engagement, faculty credentials and training, admissions selectivity, student service and technology.

To compute the Best Online Nursing Programs rankings, responses to the statistical questionnaire were linked to different possible achievable point values, which were then summed into overall scores for each eligible school. One hundred was the highest overall score a school could achieve. 

Numerical rankings were determined by sorting the programs' weighted overall scores in descending order, with the highest scoring school ranked No. 1. No two schools share a rank because although U.S. News rounds overall scores to one decimal place for display purposes on the website, the rankings themselves are based on longer unrounded scores that are all unique. 

Schools performing in the bottom 25 percent of overall scores are categorized as Rank Not Published. Also, five schools that either offered an online program for the first time last year or reported fewer than 10 students enrolled were designated as Unranked. 

Here is how different factors were weighted in the rankings. 

• Student engagement (weighting: 35 percent): In a quality program, aspiring advanced practice nurses can readily collaborate with classmates in their classes and clinical settings. In turn, instructors not only are accessible and responsive, but they also are tasked with helping to create an experience rewarding enough for students to stay enrolled and complete their degrees in normal time. 

• Faculty credentials and training (weighting: 25 percent): Strong online nursing programs employ instructors with academic credentials one would expect from a campus-based program, and have the resources to train these instructors on how to teach distance learners. 

• Admissions selectivity (weighting: 20 percent): Student bodies entering with proven aptitudes, ambitions, and accomplishments can handle the demands of rigorous coursework. Furthermore, online degrees that schools award discriminatively will have greater legitimacy in the job market. 

• Student services and technology (weighting: 20 percent): A program that incorporates diverse online learning technologies allows greater flexibility for students to complete coursework from a distance. Outside of classes, a strong support structure provides career guidance, academic assistance, and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.