Home Campus This online degree program is one of Ohio U’s largest

This online degree program is one of Ohio U’s largest

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One of Ohio University’s largest degree programs isn’t even on campus — it’s online. 

Ohio U’s massive online nursing degree program has a larger student enrollment than the Athens campus’ biggest college.

To give scale to how large this program is, more than 4,700 students were enrolled in the Athens e-campus of this program in 2018. During this same time period, roughly 4,400 students were enrolled in the College of Arts and Science at the Athens campus, which is the largest college on the Athens campus, according to the Ohio U Office of Institutional Research.

It even makes enrollment in the College of Health Sciences and Professions — the second largest college at the Athens campus — look small with only about 3,000 students.

A large portion of those enrolled in the online Registered Nurse (R.N.) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program are professional nurses returning to school, according to Randy Leite, dean of the College of Health Science and Professions.

Students are drawn to the program because it offers the most affordable online nursing program in the nation, according to university-endorsed website bestvalueschools.com. Furthermore, many students have graduated from this program, so word of mouth marketing also aids in the enrollment numbers, Leite said.

“We made it so that the out of state tuition is just three dollars more per credit hour. This essentially allows someone from California to enroll and attend the program paying the in-state rate,” he said.

Leite discussed how the university offers a 5% discount to its partner hospitals. 

“The majority of the students (in the program) are full-time working nurses,” Leite said, “Initially, when we started the program, we were told to expect 1,000 students, imagine our pleasant surprise when we saw 3,000 students enrolled.”

Jodi Thompson, a nurse currently enrolled in the program, expressed her belief in the program. 

“I worked the night shift on a pediatric unit, and I was able to do most of the discussion boards and projects on my downtime at work,” Thompson said.

The program is expanding outside the Midwest, with Ohio U now approved to operate the program in 25 states, he said.

Leite also said the program’s largest enrollment comes from cities with major medical hospitals like Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton.

The program, however, isn’t perfect, and students enrolled in it don’t receive the same amount of support as students enrolled on campus, Leite said. He mentioned that students on campus can walk into the writing center whenever they need help on a paper, but online students don’t have the same luxury. 

He added, however, that the program has made improvements connecting online students to financial aid and career services.

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