Success At Your Fingertips: Cumberland Brings Student Success Online

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 1.31.52 PMFor working adults, online education comes alive at Cumberland University. For students too busy or too far away to engage with the traditional classroom, Cumberland is making education accessible through its School of Online and Professional Studies. Offering four online programs, Cumberland is embracing technology to offer working adults convenient, accessible opportunities to advance their careers. At Cumberland University’s School of Online and Professional Studies, students can come here to get there—from anywhere.

Established in 2011, the school offers programs specifically devised for the nontraditional student. Cumberland has cultivated a powerful reputation for providing a cutting-edge education to traditional 18-to-22-year-old undergraduate students, but through its online programs, Cumberland is reaching out to students of all ages and situations across the world. In recent years, the number of nontraditional students has risen significantly, and the demand for online education has grown with it.

Cumberland’s School of Online and Professional Studies addresses that need. The school features four career-focused courses of study in fields including nursing, education, business administration, and forensics and criminal justice sciences. Each program is designed to allow working adults to learn while balancing their work and family commitments.

Since its founding, the school has allowed Cumberland to offer educational opportunities to nontraditional students at all stages of their careers, according to Vice President for Online and Professional Studies Stacey A. Garrett, who directs the school.

“The mission of the School of Online and Professional Studies is to serve adults and to offer educational opportunities to help them advance their careers,” said Garrett. “We have expanded Cumberland’s reach in adult learners by offering programs specifically designed to impart the knowledge and skills necessary for adult professional growth and advancement.”

To help working adults reach their career goals, Cumberland has tailored its online programs specifically to areas of emphasis in demand in the modern marketplace. Originally featuring a Master of Arts in Education and Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program, the school has expanded quickly to include two new degree programs, the Bachelor of Business Administration and the Bachelor of Science in Forensic and Criminal Justice Sciences.

“Our programs are really designed to impart the knowledge and skills desired in specific occupations by employers,” said Garrett.

While each program is tailored specifically to its profession, they are united by their vibrant student and faculty interaction. As Garrett explains, the School offers its adult learners a unique, student-centered learning environment, one that is not merely an online platform, but a “virtual community.”

“The campus connects students not only with faculty but with each other,” said Garrett. “It allows for meaningful, interactive discussions without any geographic boundaries. Students can engage in constructive dialog with their faculty. In addition, there are online groups that help students discuss topics and learn together.”

Such interactions are the hallmark of programs such as the Online RN-BSN program, which is now completing its second full year. The RN-BSN program is a degree completion program designed to allow working nurses to advance their careers by completing their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. (BSN).

The program provides a vital pathway to professional advancement, according to the program’s director, Dr. Rachel Carlton, an assistant professor with many years of practical nursing experience.

“The program really puts working nurses in a position to climb the career ladder into leadership or even management,” said Carlton. “Our typical student is an adult registered nurse with an associate’s or diploma degree who works full-time. Our program teaches them the knowledge necessary to function as a charge nurse, a nurse manager, or even to climb higher into administration.”

The RN-BSN program makes that advancement convenient for working nurses through its online-only, completely asynchronous format. Many nurses work long, difficult schedules, making the prospect of classroom attendance a daunting one. Cumberland’s program allows students to learn on the go, from home, or between shifts, completing their coursework and interacting with their professors and peers around the clock.

“Our students are active nearly 24 hours a day, depending on their personal schedules,” said Carlton. “With the online classroom, students can learn and interact with their fellow students whenever it’s convenient for them.”

Like all of Cumberland’s online programs, the RN-BSN program prepares students to be at the cutting edge of their field. In addition to a faculty with rich practical experience in nursing, the program also features a curriculum specifically designed to respond to the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 report on the future of nursing. Incorporating the latest concepts in case management and community nursing, the program produces nurses ready for tomorrow’s challenges.

“We’re really training our nurses with the future of their profession in mind,” said Carlton.

The RN-BSN program is but one of a number of innovative, career-focused courses of study in the School of Online and Professional Studies’ rapidly expanding offerings, however.

Cumberland’s online Master of Arts in Education program provides licensed teachers and individuals not seeking licensure with a broad-based curriculum designed to enhance crucial teaching and classroom skills. The Forensic and Criminal Justice Sciences program integrates unique coursework and practical approaches to offer students a cutting-edge, “real world” view of how the forensics, administration of justice, and corporate security fields work. Cumberland’s online Business Administration program also offers working adults a solid foundation in industry-ready skills ranging from business technology to traditional leadership and communications concepts.

Those program offerings are growing every day. The school recently added two tracks to its online Business Administration program. Additionally, in the near future, the school will unveil a new graduate program in the healthcare professions, as well as new certificate programs.

“Since our inception, we’ve grown in program offerings,” said Garrett. “We will have some very exciting programs rolling out this year. Stay on the lookout for more to come in the healthcare professions particularly.”

As more and more students take note of Cumberland’s growing online programs, the school will only continue to expand, according to Garrett.

“Our work is getting out there, and there’s been a large rush of interest,” said Garrett. “Over the past year, we’ve had a substantial increase in enrollment, and I anticipate that we will only continue to grow as we expand our offerings even further.”

Through cutting-edge curricula such as the Online RN-BSN program, the School of Online and Professional Studies is helping to make continuing education and career advancement a reality for adult students across the world. Whether working nurses or licensed teachers, business leaders or criminal justice professionals, students can find their future online at Cumberland University.