RUSH University’s College of Nursing ranked No. 1 for the second straight year in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs list. The College of Nursing, which was tied for the top spot on a list that took into account the 194 schools eligible in U.S. News’ 2021 edition, had a top-quality online learning foundation to draw from as distance learning became more of a requirement than an option for many students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As our programs shifted to full or hybrid format this year because of the pandemic, we capitalized on many years of experience developing top-ranked distance learning programs,” says Christine M. Kennedy, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing. “U.S. News’ online rankings reflect the deep expertise our faculty and staff have in preparing top practitioners and leaders in nursing, providing the highest quality educational experience. I couldn’t be prouder to be ranked No. 1 again.”
Two straight No. 1 rankings for the College of Nursing is the culmination of a steady climb for the school since it ranked No. 13 in 2015. This marks the third straight year it has ranked in the top five.
The College of Nursing ranks in the top four in three of U.S. News’ specialty rankings this year:
- Nurse Practitioner — Psychiatric Mental Health, Across the Lifespan (No. 1)
- Nurse Practitioner — Family (No. 2)
- Nursing Administration/Leadership (No. 4)
Addressing a nursing shortage during a pandemic
Distance learning plays a key role in helping to solve the U.S.’s nursing shortage, which has been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through 2026, 203,700 new nurses are needed each year to fill newly created positions and replace retiring nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Advanced practice nurses can increase accessibility to high quality and cost-effective care. This is particularly true for underserved populations. The College of Nursing has a renown research, clinical practice and teaching reputation in demonstrating and developing equity and inclusion models of care in those populations.
“Providing distant education access to students who may not have been able to attend nursing school otherwise is critical, especially right now during the global pandemic,” Kennedy says. “Our students have access to the same clinical experts who advise and teach on-campus students no matter which format they attend.”
Many nursing programs have had to turn to distance learning this past year, but an online program must have been founded before the 2019-2020 academic year to be eligible for U.S. News’ 2021 rankings. The rankings are calculated by U.S. News based on the following categories:
- Engagement (30%): Aspiring advanced practice nurses can readily collaborate with fellow students in their classes and clinical settings. Instructors are not only accessible and responsive, but they are also tasked with helping to create an experience rewarding enough for students to stay enrolled and complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.
- Faculty credentials and training (20%): Strong online nursing programs employ instructors with academic credentials that mirror those of instructors for campus-based programs, and they have the resources to train these instructors to teach distance learners.
- Expert opinion (20%): A survey of high-ranking academic officials in nursing helps account for intangible factors affecting program quality that statistics do not capture. Also, employers may hold in high regard degrees from programs that academics respect.
- Services and technologies (20%): Programs that incorporate diverse online learning technologies allow greater flexibility for students to take classes from a distance. Outside of classes, strong support structures provide learning assistance, career guidance and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.
- Student excellence (10%): Student bodies entering with proven aptitudes, ambitions and accomplishments can handle the demands of rigorous coursework. Furthermore, online degrees that schools award judiciously will have greater legitimacy in the job market.
Nursing programs at RUSH are offered from the master’s through the doctoral (DNP and PhD) levels. The following are the college’s degree options available online:
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program
- Nursing Leadership for RNs: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs
- Advanced Public Health Nursing
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Psychiatric -Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- Transformative Leadership: Population Health
- Transformative leadership: Systems
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing Science
Building on a proud history
The College of Nursing has a national reputation for excellence, consistently ranking among the top nursing schools in the nation. Nine residential programs ranked in the top 10 last year, and the 2022 rankings will be released in March 2021.
The College of Nursing’s heritage dates back to 1885, when its first antecedent, the St. Luke’s Hospital Training School of Nursing, opened to offer diploma education to nurses. Today, well over 7,000 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral students have graduated from the College of Nursing.