UIC ranked second in nation for online degree programs

Online programs

UIC was ranked second among 200 programs nationwide, up from ninth last year. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s online bachelor’s degree programs continue to rise.

According to the latest rankings in U.S. News & World Report, two of UIC’s online programs – in nursing and health information management – are second in the nation, up from ninth last year and 18th in 2013. UIC tied for second in overall online programs with Western Kentucky University and Daytona State College in Florida.

U.S. News & World Report ranked more than 200 programs based on criteria including student engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, and student services and technology.

The first five students earned their bachelor’s degrees online in health information management in May, said Karen Patena, clinical associate professor of health information management and program director. Thirty-two students are enrolled this semester. The online degree, started in 2012, complements the campus-based program, which began in 1965.

Health information management professionals are responsible for keeping patient data secure, including medical histories, laboratory test reports, diagnoses, treatment plans, insurance information, medications, and notes from medical professionals. Students who graduate from the UIC program may take the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) national certification examination for registered health information administrators.

“Our online program provides a viable option for those students who, due to work or personal life requirements, are unable to attend a traditional campus program,” Patena said. Students are taught by the same faculty who teach on campus.

“The growth of electronic health records requires more health information management professionals each year,” Patena said. “We are pleased that our program is ranked so highly and hope it will spark an interest for adults with business, medical or information technology experience looking to change careers, as well as attract students who are undecided and looking for a career path in a nontraditional format.”

UIC’s RN-BSN online degree completion program is designed for registered nurses who are currently licensed.

“Our students receive the same high-quality education as students who sit in a classroom,” said Catherine Tredway, clinical instructor and academic director. “They can set their own pace to complete the degree, allowing them to successfully manage their studies, career and personal life.”

The online nursing program has graduated 225 students and another 113 are currently enrolled, said Cordelia Maloney, executive director of the School for Continuing Studies. It takes a rigorous curriculum from one of the nation’s leading research institutions and “offers it to an audience that otherwise would never have access to a program like this,” she said.

“We make sure our students are fully engaged from the first course through the last,” she said. “And because of the academic quality of the program, it prepares and positions our graduates for career advancement.”

Angie Brooker was enjoying her 15-year career as a staff nurse in Advocate Christ Hospital’s intensive care unit, but she wanted more. While juggling her responsibilities as a mother to five children, she returned to school in 2011 to obtain a bachelor of science degree. She extensively researched several programs, and decided UIC’s online curriculum was the best fit for her.

“It really worked well with my schedule,” said Brooker, who believes that her recent promotion to clinical nurse educator for Advocate Christ’s medical and cardiac intensive care unit was due in part to receiving her bachelor’s degree last spring. “The courses really prepared me for my new position.

“The way the coursework is presented is very interesting and user-friendly. The educators are there to help you succeed. I really enjoyed the program and would highly recommend it.”