Best In The Nation | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's note: The author of this post, Crystal Baity, is a contributor to ECU News Services.

Online graduate programs at ECU receive high marks

    Four online graduate programs at East Carolina University have been ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report.

    ECU's programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing are listed in U.S. News 2016 Best Online Programs announced Jan. 12.

Jennifer Stalls, a teacher at C.M. Eppes Middle School and a graduate student in the College of Education, observes students Luke Daigle and Tyrick Barnhill conducting an experiment. ECUís online graduate education programs were ranked 14th in the country by U.S. News & World Report in a new listing released Jan. 12.

    The College of Education's online graduate education programs tied for 14th out of 252 schools.

    "Our high ranking is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all College of Education faculty and staff," said Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of the College of Education. "It has been a priority over the past several years to develop online master's programs that are rigorous, appealing and accessible for education professionals who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others."

Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of ECU's College of Education
    A total of 366 students were enrolled in the following online education programs during the 2014-15 year: adult education, business education, elementary education, instructional technology, science education, reading education, special education and middle grades education.

    ECU's College of Nursing programs were ranked 23rd out of 147 schools. This fall, 316 students were enrolled in the college's six online graduate options: adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, neonatal clinical nurse specialist, neonatal nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and nurse midwifery.

    "The College of Nursing has been at the forefront of online education almost since its inception," said Dean Sylvia Brown. "It's an important educational avenue for us to provide because it gives working nurses the ability to pursue advanced degrees while continuing to serve their communities. Better educated nurses mean better patient outcomes, and that's key because it ties back to ECU's mission of service."

    ECU's online Master of Business Administration program has been recognized by U.S. News since it began ranking graduate-level business distance education programs. ECU's MBA program tied at 72nd out of 221 schools in the country.

    "We're proud to continue leading the way as a top innovator in distance education," said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the ECU College of Business. "Our strong showing in the latest U.S. News rankings reflects our commitment to academic excellence and reinforces our reputation as one of the nation's finest institutions of higher learning."

    The online program in the College of Business has grown from a single course offering in 1998 to undergraduate and graduate degrees in various concentrations. Of the 709 total students enrolled in the ECU MBA program this fall, nearly 80 percent selected online classes. More students are enrolled in the ECU College of Business than in any other business school in the state.

    ECU's online graduate criminal justice program placed the highest in North Carolina and tied for 30th out of 51 schools ranked in the nation.

    "Our ranking recognizes our commitment to educate the next generation of criminal justice leaders through excellence in graduate study," said Dr. William Bloss, professor and chair of the ECU Department of Criminal Justice.

    The recognition comes amid substantial growth in ECU's criminal justice program, which also offers a graduate certificate in criminal justice education and two multidisciplinary graduate certificate options.

    More than 50 students are pursuing an online graduate criminal justice degree, and Bloss expects an increase in enrollment this fall. "The recent growth marks over a 50 percent increase in admissions and enrollment since 2010 and provides further evidence of the demand for advanced criminal justice education among practitioners and post-baccalaureate students in the region and beyond," Bloss said.

    To develop the rankings, U.S. News & World Report evaluated areas such as student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, admissions selectivity and peer reputation.

    The complete listing can be viewed at
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