Clarion and Edinboro University Graduate Nursing Program Ranked among Best Online Programs in Nation

The Clarion and Edinboro Universities Master of Science in Nursing program ranked 19th in the nation in the 2013 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs survey conducted by U.S. News and World Report.  Rankings were based on admission selectivity, student engagement, faculty credentials and training and student services and technology.  The joint program is taught by Clarion and Edinboro faculty and administered by Venango College of Clarion University.

“To have the program ranked 19th in the nation is most impressive,” said Dr. Chris Reber, Venango College Executive Dean, “and speaks volumes about the high-quality faculty and innovative program design.”

The two universities began offering the program as a regional consortium in 2001, which formerly also included Slippery Rock University. The program includes Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator tracks and moved to an online format in 2007.  Clarion and Edinboro, two of the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, offer entry-level nursing degree programs independently but collaborate to offer the MSN degree. 

“Offering the degree jointly allows us to broaden the geographic reach of the program throughout western Pennsylvania and to share faculty,” said Dr. Sharon Falkenstern, director of the School of Nursing and Allied Health at Venango College. 

This jointly-sponsored program offers two concentrations:  Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator. Graduates of the program receive a joint degree granted by both universities. The Master of Science in Nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

Both concentrations are designed for the working professional. With the exception of clinical experiences, internships, and select skill labs, course work is delivered in an on-line format that is available to students 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Fully online programs have nearly doubled in the last decade allowing students the benefit of higher education scheduled around work and family obligations.

Some 251 students have graduated since the program’s inception, including 216 from the Family Nurse Practitioner track and 35 from the Nurse Educator track.  Sixty-five students are currently enrolled in the program.

The Family Nurse Practitioner concentration prepares graduates to function as primary care providers in settings such as community health centers, clinics, and private practices.  The FNP concentration is 45 semester hours in length and includes 600 hours of clinical practice. FNP graduates are prepared to provide primary care in medically under-served areas in western Pennsylvania and are eligible to apply to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing for legal certification as certified registered nurse practitioners in family health after passing professional certification exams through either the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

The joint Clarion and Edinboro Universities MSN Program offers two additional options aimed at alleviating the existing nursing faculty shortage:  a 36-credit MSN Nurse Educator concentration and a 12-credit Post-Master’s Letter of Completion in nursing education.  The Post-Master’s Letter of Completion is available to individuals who have completed a master’s degree in nursing with a concentration other than education.  Students who find this option attractive are often MSN Nurse Practitioner graduates who are employed as educators in LPN programs, diploma schools of nursing, or staff development departments. Graduates of the joint MSN Nurse Practitioner program are short only four courses and typically return for this option.  The Post-Master’s Letter of Completion in Nursing Education prepares students to meet eligibility requirements to sit for the National League for Nursing Certified Nurse Educator exam.

The U.S. News rankings and accompanying program profiles are available online.

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