“I traveled from Ghana, West Africa, to the United States in 1999,” said Kweku Osei. “I came here with $300 in my pocket, one suitcase and a dream. Now, here I am. A graduate from one of America’s finest nursing schools.” Osei graduated from the MU Sinclair School of Nursing online doctor of nursing practice program in May.
As one of Mizzou’s 4,882 online students last year, Osei enjoyed access to a University of Missouri credential without relocating away from Parkville, Missouri, where he works and lives with his wife and three children.
Mizzou Online is a service unit with the Office of the Provost comprised of 47 professionals whose focus is on Mizzou’s nontraditional students working in online classes, degrees and certificates. Our mission is to help academic units and administrative offices support distance learners and expand Mizzou’s reach.
Online enrollment has increased every year, never declining, for nearly 20 years. Last year, 16,427 students took at least one online class. Of those, 4,880 are coded as “distance students” in one of 125 online degrees or certificates. Distance students make up more than 10 percent of the total student population. At the graduate level, distance students make up more than 40 percent of the graduate student body. Online education brought in more than $41M in revenue to the University last year.
This growth and Mizzou quality has not gone unnoticed amongst the higher education community. Earlier this year, the university stood among the nation’s best in the annual U.S. News and World Report online program rankings. Online graduate education programs at Mizzou placed in the top 12% of all ranked schools and online bachelor’s programs climbed 24 positions from last year’s rankings into the top third.
While enrollment growth continues, new online programs are always in development. Mizzou is positioned at No. 2 among SEC and AAU public institutions in terms of distance offerings. Nine new online degrees are launching this month, bringing the online degree and certificate portfolio to 125 options – more than any other Missouri university.
These new programs were designed with student outcomes in mind. Many of Mizzou’s online students are in their late 20s and early 30s and are seeking career advancement. The four new graduate-level online options are designed to help students get ahead in their industries.
- The Sinclair School of Nursing is offering a master’s in care management for those in the health care field.
- The College of Engineering is launching two new master’s programs in biological engineering and industrial engineering.
- The School of Law is opening the Midwest’s first online master of laws (LLM) program in dispute resolution.
The five new bachelor’s degree options are intended for students with or without previous college credit. These online options give them the opportunity to earn credentials that will open career doors.
- The College of Arts and Science is offering bachelor’s degrees in communication, psychology, sociology and English.
- The College of Engineering is starting an online bachelor’s in information technology.
The impact of online = access
Having access to a Mizzou experience is invaluable for distance students with busy lives, who can’t relocate to Columbia, Missouri. These students often have full-time careers, family responsibilities and other duties that make classroom attendance difficult.
Several of Mizzou’s online programs will fit the eligibility requirements for Missouri’s new Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant program for Missourians who haven’t yet finished their bachelor’s degrees.
The university is also committed to serving those in the military. With the Mizzou Online Military Tuition Award, veterans, active duty, National Guard, Reserves and their spouses and dependents can receive a 10 percent tuition award.
We also offer a tuition award for Missouri’s public community college graduates who want to finish their four-year degrees online. Mizzou is becoming a transfer institution of choice for students who started at two-year programs or other four-year institutions and had to stop-out their studies. Now that undergraduate online options have expanded, Mizzou is ready to serve many of the 700,000-plus Missourians who started college but never finished.
Our impact is summarized by one word: access.
Online students point to the ability to put lessons to work in their jobs as a benefit of having access to the Mizzou network. “The [data science and analytics] program was very eye-opening and challenging in a positive way,” said Stephanie Cane, 2018 DSA MS graduate from St. Louis. “I learned so much in such a short period of time. I really owe that to this program… to changing the entire trajectory of my life. I am so grateful for that.”
Osei echoes that sentiment: “The faculty at MU School of Nursing know how to prepare students for the real world. They understand the theoretical and the practical aspects. I was taught how to be an advocate for my patients and for my community. That alone is priceless.”
Mizzou is poised to continue to grow online programs and enrollment. Among the ways we can do that include partnering with business who want to make Mizzou a preferred education provider for their employees. We are always ready to talk with stakeholders with university/corporate partnership connections. As members of the Flagship Council, we welcome your ideas.
Kim Siegenthaler, PhD
Director, Mizzou Online