UNCW to Offer High-Demand Nursing and Education Programs Online

Compiled by Holly Johnson
August 2, 2013

Editor's note: Meeting increased demand for distance learning and aiming to attract new students, traditional postsecondary institutions continue to introduce new online degree programs. The scope and variety of these programs should only expand over time, enhancing the quality, value and reputation of online education.

In an effort to keep up with student demand, the University of North Carolina Wilmington recently announced the addition of two new online programs. According to PR Newswire the new programs - Registered Nurse-to-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) and Master of Education with a specialization in Elementary Education (M.Ed., Elementary Education) - will begin in late summer and early fall of this year. The University of North Carolina Wilmington, which already offers a variety of programs through its distance education program, hopes that addition of the new online programs will attract new students to the school.

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UNCW is known for its commitment to education and a wide range of degree programs. However, Dr. Johnson Akinleye, the Associate Vice Chancellor for External Programs at the school, believes that its online programs offer a distinct advantage to professionals already in the workforce. "They are flexible and easily accessible particularly for working professionals who may not be able to attend classes or take courses in the traditional face-to-face format because of their job schedules and demand," Akinleye said in an email interview. "Because most of these courses are offered asynchronously, students can log on and complete their lessons and assignments at their own convenience."

Due to a variety of circumstances in the state, the new online RN-BSN program couldn't have come at a better time. According to a 2012 report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2,305 qualified students were turned away from nursing programs in North Carolina in 2012, primarily due to a shortage of faculty and clinical training sites. Compounding the problem is the fact that the state's demand for qualified nurses is expected to surge in the coming years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop, employment for registered nurses in North Carolina is expected to grow 19 percent from 2010 to 2020 (careerinfonet.org).

With the state's shortage of nursing programs and predicted demand for nurses in the next decade, UNCW's RN-BSN program is perfectly positioned to help fill the gap. "It is our hope that through this online program we are able to create more access for traditional and non-traditional students who are interested in becoming nurses to get their education and get their career on the way," says Akinleye. "We also hope that through this program we are able to help the state of North Carolina increase and build a stronger workforce in the nursing profession," he said.

The school's new online M.Ed., Elementary Education program is also in demand due to a growing need for teachers in the state. According to CareerOneStop, employment for elementary school teachers is expected to increase 23 percent from 2010 to 2020 (careerinfonet.org). The school's new M.Ed. program can be completed entirely online, and is geared toward elementary teachers who want to enhance their skills and remain competitive in the workplace.

According to Akinleye, all of the University of North Carolina Wilmington's distance education programs are held to the same standards of excellence as the schools' traditional face-to-face degree programs. "All our programs are designed and delivered with the same rigor and quality regardless of the mode of delivery," says Akinleye. According to WECT, UNCW is currently working on converting the courses into an online format.

In addition to filling an educational need in the state, UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller sees the school's online expansion as a way to give back to the community that it calls home. "UNCW and graduates of these programs will jointly help move the nursing and teaching workforce and North Carolina forward," said Miller to PR Newswire.


"University of North Carolina Wilmington to Now Offer High-Demand Nursing and Education Programs Online with Carousel Enrollment," PRNewswire.com, August 1, 2013, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/university-of-north-carolina-wilmington-to-now-offer-high-demand-nursing-and-education-programs-online-with-carousel-enrollment-217914211.html

"UNCW offers high-demand nursing and education programs online," wect.com, August 1, 2013, Debra Worley, http://www.wect.com/story/22989968/uncw-offers-high-demand-nursing-and-education-programs-online

CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, "Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education: North Carolina," 2013, http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?next=occ_rep&Level=&optstatus=111111111&jobfam=25&id=1&nodeid=2&soccode=252021&stfips=37&x=43&y=8

CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, "Registered Nurses: North Carolina," 2013, http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?next=occ_rep&Level=&optstatus=111111111&jobfam=29&id=1&nodeid=2&soccode=291141&stfips=37&x=51&y=18

American Association of Colleges of Nursing, "State Snapshot: North Carolina Nursing Education At a Glance," 2012, http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/resources/North_Carolina1.pdf