AU to offer new graduate programs in nursing, announces intent to develop physical therapy doctoral program

August 18, 2015

Anderson University President Dr. Evans P. Whitaker announced today that the University is seeking to offer graduate programs in nursing beginning in fall 2016 and is also developing a plan to eventually offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program.  All programs are pending approval by the faculty, Board of Trust, specialty accrediting agencies, and the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. When approved, the nursing programs will allow nurses holding associate and baccalaureate degrees to pursue advanced and terminal degrees in nursing.  With the establishment of a physical therapy program, individuals holding bachelor’s degrees in appropriate academic disciplines will be allowed to pursue the DPT.

“The degrees we’re offering are very well-designed and meet needs that currently exist in the marketplace,” said Dr. Pamela Binns-Turner, dean of the School of Nursing.

Need for nurses with advanced degrees

A report generated by the Institute of Medicine in 2010 says there’s an increasing need for nurses with advanced degrees. The report called for an “education system that promotes seamless academic progress,” which is what Anderson hopes to offer.

According to Provost Dr. Tim Smith, when the programs are approved, Anderson will likely be the first university in South Carolina to accept nurses with associate degrees into master's and doctoral programs, without requiring them to first complete a bachelor’s degree. These students will only be required to complete two additional bridge classes before starting work on their degrees. Students holding bachelor’s degrees in nursing can directly enter master’s and doctoral programs.

In the nurse practitioner program, students can earn a master’s or a doctorate, with two concentration options: family nurse practitioner (FNP) or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). Nurse practitioners are in particularly high demand in the current healthcare climate, says Dr. Binns-Turner. She also said that there is a great need across the country for mental health professionals.

AU also plans to offer both master's and doctoral degrees in Executive Leadership, which will equip nurses to serve at the corporate level within healthcare systems. The program will incorporate MBA classes, such as finance, accounting, and organizational leadership, to prepare nurses for leadership roles in healthcare institutions. Students can also pursue master’s degrees in the Nurse Educator program.

Master's degree in 15 months, doctoral degree in 36 months

Students will be able to complete master’s degrees in as few as 15 months, and doctoral degrees in 36 months. Classes will be offered online, providing flexibility to working nurses across the country. During four of their semesters, students will meet on campus just three days per semester.

All faculty at AU’s School of Nursing are currently practicing nurses, so they have up-to-date, first-hand experience to equip students professionally and to encourage them as they seek to apply their faith to their professions.

Anderson University’s integration of faith and learning is what sets it apart among many graduate nursing programs. AU’s purpose is to offer rigorous academic programs from a Christian worldview that connects knowledge with service.

“To me, healthcare fits very clearly because you are simply preparing people to be the feet and hands of Christ,” Dr. Smith said. “Christ went out and served; we’re here to serve.”

As Anderson seeks to equip students professionally and spiritually, the School of Nursing is considering other graduate programs for the future.  In 2017, AU plans to offer a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree for nurses who already hold master’s degree. This program, like the other programs, is undergoing the approval process.

AU has completed a feasibility study for the proposed Doctor in Physical Therapy degree and will advance the proposal for approval so that development of the faculty, facilities, and resources can begin.  Dr. Smith said that recent studies show a need for more physical therapists as only about 80 physical therapists graduate in South Carolina each year.