Online nursing program climbs in U.S. News ranking, while business and education schools fall

Media Credit: Media Credit: Desiree Halpern | Hatchet Staff Photographer David Ritter, 52, attends courses in a rehabilitation counseling program from his home in Hershey, Pa. GW's online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.

GW's online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.

The GW School of Nursing jumped into the top five online programs in the country, but the business and education schools slumped in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings Tuesday.

The School of Nursing ranked fourth, a 12-spot jump from last year, reaching the highest ranking the school has seen since forming in 2010. The school got high marks for faculty training and technology, seeing its lowest rank in admissions selectivity.

GW's online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.
GW’s online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.

Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Kim Acquaviva applauded the ranking, and said it could have been bolstered by the college’s strengthening reputation.

“Because GW does have a strong name in terms of the School of Nursing online program, I think that could have been helpful,” Acquaviva said. “But if our program had been ranked 50th, I would probably feel as good about our program as I do being ranked fourth.”

She said the nursing program could continue to improve by adding technology staff to support online faculty. The University as a whole hires tech support staff, not specific colleges, she said.

The rankings come after Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, announced this fall he would form a strategic plan to centralize online learning at the University.

Building strong online programs has been key to GW’s revenue-boosting strategy, as its ability to increase tuition revenue is restricted by an on-campus cap on students.

Other schools struggled to improve their online programs though.

The GW School of Business online MBA program’s ranking dropped for the second year as well, falling nearly 20 spots to No. 64. That fall adds to a number of other drops in rankings the school has seen in the last few years, including its undergraduate and global MBA programs.

The school’s former dean, Doug Guthrie, was fired in August after overspending the school’s budget by about $13 million, some of which had been invested in online degree program. The school added four online graduate degree programs in 2012.

Provost Steven Lerman has said that he expected the online programs to eventually create more revenue, but that the initial investments in the program ran high.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development saw a nine-spot drop to No. 16 this year, with high scores for student engagement and faculty credentials.

Both the business and education program’s retention rates and graduation rates fell from the 2011-2012 academic year, as its ranking fell. Associate deans for the business school and Graduate School of Education and Human Development did not immediately return a request for comment.

GW also ranked No. 56 for its online bachelor’s programs, most of which are medical programs.

Schools may have moved up and down in the rankings due to changing methodology by U.S. News, which for the first time included peer-review data based on other schools’ evaluations, and more emphasis on one-year retention rates, graduation rates and required time to graduate.

“The methodologies behind this year’s rankings changed significantly to reflect additional data and statistical processes used to do the calculations,” U.S. News reporter Devon Haynie wrote in a blog post. “These changes are the primary factors behind why schools moved up and down in the rankings.”

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