MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Nursing's Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) program has placed among the best in the nation in “U.S. News & World Report’s” Best Online Education Program Rankings, 2013 edition. Of nearly 100 programs listed, the School’s online graduate curriculum was listed at No. 21.

“We are delighted to receive this important recognition,” Elisabeth Shelton, Ph.D., R.N., interim dean of the WVU School of Nursing, said. “It truly speaks to the commitment of our excellent faculty and clinical partners to providing an outstanding program, accessible to primary care practitioners throughout the state and region. This accessibility is a key factor in providing student-centered programs that directly impact the quality of life and healthcare for the people of West Virginia.”

The online M.S.N. program allows advanced practice nurses to specialize in the areas of family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, women’s health nurse practitioner or nursing leadership. Preparation at the master’s level provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate self-direction and effective interactions with other health professionals in promoting and restoring health. The online program was designed so its required 44 credit hours could be completed by nurses in their home communities, explained Cynthia Persily, Ph.D., R.N., associate dean for graduate practice programs and chairperson at the WVU School of Nursing’s Charleston Division.

“Online delivery of our graduate program is a direct response to the needs and expectations of our community,” Dr. Persily said. “Our school has long recognized that the education of nurses at the graduate level is a complex endeavor, influenced by geographic, educational, economic, social and professional factors. Many of our graduate students are women who balance full-time employment and child rearing while attending school, and time is a precious commodity.”

The M.S.N. program focuses on the needs of the state, offering opportunities for nurses to learn, to lead and provide excellent healthcare for the people of West Virginia in a reformed healthcare system, Persily continued.

“The online programs offered by the School of Nursing are a direct response to the educational needs of West Virginia nurses and the health workforce issues of West Virginia communities,” Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., WVU chancellor for health sciences, said. “It's very gratifying when such a locally focused effort succeeds so fully that it wins national acclaim. I want to salute Dr. Cynthia Persily of our Charleston Division, who leads this program, and all of the School of Nursing faculty who devote many hundreds of hours to making it work.”  

“U.S. News & World Report” ranked programs according to a number of criteria that included student engagement, faculty credentials and training, admissions selectivity, student services and technology. Student engagement level was given the most weight in determining rank; the best programs foster opportunities for collaboration with classmates, making the experience rewarding enough for students to stay enrolled and complete their degrees.

“Recognition of the quality of our program by national organizations such as ‘U.S. News’ is an honor that confirms what we already knew,” Persily said. “We offer a high quality program that is meeting the needs for excellent healthcare for the people of West Virginia.”

In addition to the School of Nursing, two other WVU programs were ranked this year. Education was ranked 26th, and business was ranked 29th.

To learn more about the WVU School of Nursing, visit:

For the complete list of online programs recognized by “U.S. News & World Report,” see
For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
lal: 01-15-13