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SHSU Earns Top Recognition In Online Graduate Education

Jan. 11, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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SHSU online loginTwelve years ago, Sam Houston State University’s College of Education paved the way for the university’s online education when it introduced the first web-based degree.

Now offering nine fully online graduate degrees and eight hybrid graduate degrees, the college has been recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for having one of the “Top Online Education Programs” in the nation for graduate education.

SHSU is one of only 14 graduate education programs in the country, and of only two in the state of Texas, to earn the U.S. News “Honor Roll” designation, “highlighting programs that consistently rank in the top third among their peers at the bachelor’s and master’s levels,” according to the magazine.

“The College of Education is excited about and appreciative of receiving such an outstanding honor,” said College of Education Dean Genevieve Brown. “It is truly a tribute to our innovative and student-centered faculty and staff. More than a decade ago, our college leadership and faculty members had the vision and commitment to initiate a delivery system that would be reflective of the emerging needs of working professionals in schools and agencies.”

Announced Tuesday (Jan. 10), honor roll designations were based on rankings in four areas in master’s degree-level programs in business, computer information technology, education, engineering, and nursing, as well as online bachelor’s degree programs.

The College of Education ranked within the top 50 in three different categories, including No. 4 for student services and technology; No. 21 for faculty credentials and training; and No. 46 for student engagement and accreditation.

Rankings were based on a number of criteria, including technology accessible to students; the percentage of faculty with terminal degrees and faculty experience; and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accreditation and student collaboration requirements on assignments.

“Maximum class size does impact the score for student engagement accreditation because it’s a quality indicator,” said Beverly Irby, associate dean for graduate programs for the College of Education, who noted that the average class size for their online graduate programs is about 18 and usually reaching no higher than 25.

“There are public and private universities that consider scale to be important,” she said. “We consider quality to be the most important aspect of our graduate education program online, and this particular component is included as a quality indicator for the U.S. News and World Report.”

The student services and technology indicators—for which SHSU’s overall online bachelor’s program also earned the No. 2 spot in the nation—include support services from the SHSU DELTA Center, which opened in 2009 and both provides and supports many of the digital tools and programs utilized across campus; Newton Gresham Library, which offers livestreams of video collections, chats, and other digital content; and Blackboard and classroom livestreaming.

These things reflect the “support and movement” of the university, Irby said.

“We began 12 years ago teaching online and fully implementing programs online, and from that starting point we’ve had numerous programs online, not only in the College of Ed,” she said. "The faculty in the College of Education are very cognizant of services that students need in learning online, and those faculty are excellent in terms of the latest teaching techniques using technology. We’re really, really proud of that and we’ve come a long way in just 12 years.

“Our student services and technology is like a village. We’re always trying to improve, and I think services such as those offered by the DELTA Center have helped us to improve,” she continued. “It takes all of us, the entire university, to attain such a recognition.”

Data collected by U.S. News for the annual rankings included surveys mailed to all 1,053 regionally accredited institutes it determined offered in 2010 at least one master’s level program in education, using U.S. Department of Education data and U.S. News internal records as sources.

SHSU’s graduate College of Business Administration online degree ranked No. 14 for student services and technology and No. 53 for student engagement and accreditation. The entire online bachelor’s degree program, in addition to earning the No. 2 ranking among all online bachelor’s programs in the nation for student services and technology, also earned No. 5 for faculty credentials and training, and No. 66 for student engagement and assessment.

“DELTA (SHSU’s Distance Education and Learning Technologies for Academics) has had a mobile initiative for more than two years,” said Bill Angrove, associate vice president for SHSU online. “We are proud to be able to incorporate the diverse online learning technologies that provide a greater flexibility for students to take classes by the methods of their choosing and at the times of their choosing.

“These services and technology components have played a large part in the top rankings for the undergraduate online bachelor’s degrees and the colleges of Education and Business Administration’s online graduate programs,” he said.

In addition to the online and hybrid graduate degree programs offered by the College of Education, SHSU offers 14 fully online and hybrid certification programs for students who already have a bachelor’s degree. This summer the college’s department of educational leadership and counseling will initiate a fully online doctoral program, the only one in the country in development education administration, according to Irby.

For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit http://www.shsu.edu/~dl_www/programs.html, and for a complete listing of the U.S. News and World Report online rankings, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/sam-houston-state-university-3606.



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