WSSU’s wallet-friendly online program garners national attention
Winston-Salem State University’s online nursing degree has been ranked among the most affordable in the nation by OnlineU.org, a new site that lists the costs of online degree and certificate programs.
WSSU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) degree ranked 25th on the site’s list of the 25 most economical nursing programs. The site lists the yearly price of the program at $14,868 for out-of-state students. Costs for in-state students at North Carolina public colleges are roughly half those of non-North Carolinians. The OnlineU.org relied on 2011 tuition information reported by colleges. That data was then manually updated.
WSSU is the only North Carolina school on the site’s nursing list, which is topped by Southeast Missouri State University ($5,490 a year). The site also features rankings for the most affordable programs in a number of other disciplines, including accounting and education.
Though the site’s rankings are solely based on price, OnlineU.org provides other information about the programs. In the case of WSSU, they cite good retention and graduation rates, low overall student-to-teacher ratio and regional accreditation, which according to the site, is “generally the one most respected by employers.”
WSSU RN-BSN Option Director Dr. Mary Alice Hodge said students get a top-quality education for a great price.
“It’s such a good program (that) when the students graduate from our program, we’re giving them a strong foundation,” she said. “The curriculum is very good. I think that’s the biggest drawing card. Now, the tuition is a factor, but I think the curriculum is what draws the majority of students to our program.”
The online RN-BSN Option is designed for nurses who already have their associate degrees. Along with the online option, 20 hospitals and community colleges across the state offer the WSSU program. Dozens of faculty and adjunct professors teach approximately 550 students in the program. About 180 of those students are taking the course online, with the vast majority of them living in North Carolina. While many online students may never meet their professors in person, they’re only an email away.
“The great thing about the faculty that teach online is that they’re available to students and so accessible,” said Hodge.
Since the students are already nurses, RN-BSN doesn’t require a hands-on component, Hodge said, so it works well in an online format, and a nurse’s schedule makes the flexibility of the online course attractive.
“The preference is becoming more and more to go online, based on working the 12-hour shifts, based on working not the same days during the week,” Hodge said. “It’s easier for them to take online because of their family, travel, the time element.”
WSSU offers seven other online degree and certificate programs and numerous other courses online.
OnlineU.org was launched in November. The site was created by SR Education Group, which creates directories and comprehensive guides for online schools. The company also runs guidetoonlineschools.com, a site started in 2004. According to SR Education’s Kimberly Wetter, OnlineU.org is the company’s attempt to make a difference. She said it was inspired by the many stories of financial hardship that the company received in response to a scholarship program it offers.
“We read a ton of personal stories of scholarship applicants, and we are truly affected by their stories and just how much debt that they’re in,” Wetter said.
She said online college options have become hugely popular, in part, because of their convenience. The option is being taken advantage of by everyone from working professionals to stay-at-home moms.
“When people think of the online education industry, they think of colleges like the University of Phoenix and DeVry; they started as online colleges; that’s where the industry started,” Wetter said. [pullquote]“Standard state schools are kind of looking at that and being like ‘We can go online too.’ Technology is making it easier, and they can attract more students since location is no longer a limiting factor when someone’s deciding on a college.”[/pullquote]
Wetter said there are 529 accredited colleges that offer 12,473 fully online degrees and certificates. In 2011, 6.7 million students were enrolled in at least one online course.
For more information on WSSU online programs, visit www.wssu.edu.