Illinois State University has been recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs” as the second-best program in Illinois and the 14th-best program in the United States. The ranking encompasses two undergraduate programs at Illinois State University: Mennonite College of Nursing’s online RN to BSN and the Department of Health Sciences’ online health informatics and management.

Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) has been offering the online RN to BSN program since 2002. Knowing that working RNs must have a flexible way to advance their education while balancing school, family, and work obligations, the college has been recognized as an innovator and leader in the online educational space. MCN’s program makes up 86% of Illinois State University’s online bachelor’s degree enrollment and is renowned for offering a high-quality educational experience to students.

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The program is designed for licensed registered nurses who have completed an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing program. Recently, through the Academic Progression initiative, MCN forged 16 partnerships with community colleges statewide that allow students to seamlessly progress from their associate’s degree in nursing to their bachelor’s via dual enrollment or pre-admission. These partnerships increase access for students across the state of Illinois, allowing students increased career flexibility and earning potential.

“We all know health care is changing. It is our belief that nurses, because of their unique lens into patient care and community health, must rise to the challenge and lead through that change. That’s why our program emphasizes leadership throughout the curriculum. We’re not just graduating more nurses—we’re graduating nurse leaders who are going to go out there and change the world,” explains MCN Dean Dr. Judy Neubrander.

Unlike many online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, Mennonite College of Nursing caps online class sizes at 30 students.

The program’s sequence leader Cindy Malinowski explains why: “Many schools have online classes that are much, much larger. But MCN is laser-focused on quality. In fact, our program’s course format is internationally quality-certified through the nonprofit organization Quality Matters. MCN has a long history of providing quality nursing education, and is committed to delivering the same value of program online as we do on campus.”

Illinois State’s health informatics and management-registered health information technician-HIM program is offered fully online through the Department of Health Sciences. The program is designed for students who have a current RHIT certification and are graduates of an accredited college program in health information technology. Graduates of the program play a critical role in collecting, maintaining, and analyzing the health data that health care professionals rely on to deliver, manage, and finance quality health care.

The RHIT-HIM online program was developed so that working RHITs would have an easily accessible path to further education. Dr. Jennifer Peterson, program director for health informatics and management explains: “As health care evolves to demand more expertise in informatics and analytics, many HIT professionals find that they need additional education to meet their professional goals or their facility’s needs. Our program truly bridges the gap between students’ technical education and their professional education.” After completing three courses within the major program, students receive proficiency credit from their HIT degrees toward their Illinois State bachelor’s degrees. This allows for a seamless bridging from one degree to the next, with no wasted or repeated courses.  

Logan Frederick, the sequence coordinator, said: “Project-based learning and application prepare our graduates for today’s rapidly changing health care workplaces. The coursework emphasizes all aspects of health informatics and health information management. Courses are centered around projects and leadership in the workplace and culminate in a professional practice. Our graduates are highly prepared for managerial positions and professional advancement after earning the RHIA credential.”

U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on a variety of factors, including student engagement, class sizes, graduation rate, student support, services and technologies, faculty credentials, and training.

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