In 2013, Excelsior College committed to collaborate with Dutchess Community College and American River Community College to provide students with associate degrees in nursing a clear pathway to a bachelor's degree. In association with partner colleges, students will be identified for concurrent enrollment at both Excelsior's online educational platform and the two-year college, which will allow students to more quickly obtain their bachelor's degree. This Commitment supports the pursuit of a bachelor's degree as students begin their nursing education and reinforces the role of regionally based associate degree programs.
Students will matriculate in the associate degree of nursing program at a community college that has partnered with Excelsior College for this program, and begins study at the community college. During the first or second semester of study at the community college, students will also matriculate in the bachelor degree of nursing at Excelsior College. When students experience a wait-list delay to enroll in one or more classes at the community college, they will enroll in one or more of the general education classes required for the bachelor's degree program at Excelsior College. Students will complete the associate's degree at the community college while also simultaneously working on bachelor's level courses at Excelsior College. If all general education credits for the bachelor's degree and 2 to 3 upper level nursing courses are completed at the time of RN licensure, only 22 to 25 credits of upper-level nursing courses will remain to fulfill Excelsior's bachelor's degree requirements, which can be completed in 1 to 1 ½ years. The end result is that the student will achieve the ultimate goal of obtaining his/her bachelor's degree in nursing more quickly (6 months to over a year more quickly than if the student had worked solely on the associate's degree first and the bachelor's degree second).
Excelsior's 42-year experience in evaluating students' credit history from other schools as well as prior learning experiences will be employed to allow for differences among associate degree programs which will be addressed in the individual partnership agreements. In addition, Excelsior's four-plus decades of expertise in advising students in distance learning programs will allow for flexibility in each student's academic progression rather than the use of a predetermined calendar of course scheduling which often is unsuitable for the non-traditional student.
In the 2013 academic year (July 2013 - June 2014) Excelsior College will initiate the "Achieving Nursing Bachelor's Through Concurrent Enrollment" program with two community colleges, Dutchess Community College (NY) and American River Community College (CA). These community colleges were selected because of the compatibility of their respective programs with Excelsior's bachelor's program in nursing and their willingness to participate in this type of venture.
In the 2014 academic year (July 2014 - June 2015) Excelsior College anticipates adding at upwards of ten (10) more community college partners to the program with a goal of at least 400 additional nursing students enrolled in the concurrent program. In addition, Excelsior College would like to investigate adding a similar health sciences degree completion program to the CGI commitment. With the numerous changes manifest in the health care industry, there is growing demand for health care practitioners who have at least a bachelor's degree, including those offered by the School of Health Sciences at Excelsior College.
Students who pursue an associate degree in nursing (RN pre-licensure requirement) often find themselves delayed in their progression to graduation due to capacity issues at academic institutions. It is not uncommon for students enrolled in an associate degree program to be wait-listed for registration into the nursing component of the program's curriculum after completing the general education component. This period could be as long as an entire year or more. This is an ideal time for students to begin working toward completion of the BS in nursing.
On average, half of the general education credits for the BS in nursing are met within associate degree program requirements. The remaining 27-30 general education credits for the baccalaureate may be pursued while students are waiting for access to the nursing component in the associate degree program. Therefore, the wait time could be used efficiently and productively to promote seamless access toward the higher level of education called for by The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2010.
IOM published The Future of Nursing, which included four key messages and eight subsequent recommendations regarding the role of nurses in transforming the nation's health care delivery system. Excelsior's mission is to increase access to higher education among working adults by removing barriers to their educational goals, especially for those from groups historically underrepresented in higher education, and in that vein will address Key Message # 2 and Recommendation #4 with this Commitment to Action.
"Key Message #2: Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression. Recommendation 4: Increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020
require all nursing schools to offer defined academic pathways, beyond articulation agreements, that promote seamless access for nurses to higher levels of education."
The program also leverages the highly personalized approach to degree completion provided by Excelsior College. Many of the nursing candidates come to the table with some coursework or experience that can be applied towards their degree. At Excelsior College, we work with each student to identify coursework, exams and prior learning experience, aggregate those credits into a single transcript, and then develop an individualized learning plan toward attainment of the desired degree. This enables the student to obtain his/her degree in less time, with greater flexibility, and for significantly less cost, all of which are critical for adult learners.
Overall, as home to the largest nursing program in the nation and the Tau Kappa Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, Honor Society of Nursing, this commitment is a natural extension of Excelsior's experience in distance learning programs. A non-profit institution focused on meeting the needs of adult learners, Excelsior College offers degrees at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels. Excelsior currently enrolls approximately 37,000 students across all its degree programs and has more than 150,000 graduates. The average age of an Excelsior student is 37 and Excelsior has an overall minority representation of 33% among enrolled students. Excelsior College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and all its nursing programs are accredited by the Nursing League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Excelsior's School of Nursing is a three-time designee by the National League for Nursing as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education.
Excelsior College is seeking Community colleges in the US that would like to participate in the "Achieving Nursing Bachelor's Through Concurrent Enrollment" program. Excelsior College currently has academic partnerships with over 75 community colleges in the US, and they will review those colleges first to determine which of the community colleges would be optimal partners for this program. Excelsior College will also review community colleges at large to identify other community colleges that also align well with the requirements of the program.
In addition, Excelsior is seeking employers in the health care industry to (a) provide guidance regarding the competency requirements in the industry (given the industry is in a rapid rate of change), and (b) provide employment opportunities for graduates of the "Achieving Nursing Bachelor's Through Concurrent Enrollment" program.
Excelsior College is a very capable and flexible partner for both academic institutions and employers that wish to develop individualized degree completion programs on behalf of students and employees. Excelsior College's core value-add is the highly individualized, high quality, and efficient nature of its accredited degree completion programs. Furthermore, as a National League for Nursing, Center of Excellence in Nursing Education (one of only 20 in the nation), Excelsior's School of Nursing represents a highly credible and attractive collaborator for those wishing to partner with it.