If you're looking to advance professionally by continuing your education, but you can't afford to pause your career, you've probably considered distance learning.

So you probably also know that not all online courses and degrees are created equal. As we noted last week, quality of instruction is an important factor when evaluating online course and degree programs.

MU is a highly regarded and accredited university, with some of the nation's leading scholars. Those same professors teach MU distance learners as well as on-campus students, which explains why so many working professionals enroll in online courses and programs at Mizzou.

Among our many award-winning instructors who teach online are two new recipients of Mizzou Alumni Association (MAA) awards.

Barbara Reys received the Distinguished Faculty Award, the highest honor the MAA presents to faculty members. The award recognizes Reys' sustained efforts in teaching, research and service, and places special emphasis on her relationships with students.

Reys is Curators Professor at the College of Education's Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum. There she co-directs the elementary mathematics specialist graduate certificate online program.

Marjorie R. Sable received an MAA Faculty-Alumni Award, which recognizes her work as a teacher and researcher as well as her relationship with students.

Sable is the director of the School of Social Work, where she is instrumental in the graduate certificate in military social work, among others. Social work professionals can access the school's online master's degree while still working full-time.

Want to advance your career in social work or education? Interested in studying under leading scholars like Sable and Reys? Speak to a Mizzou Online recruitment adviser today. Call us at 1-800-609-3727 or send an email to MizzouOnline@missouri.edu.

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If you're like most people interested in an online degree or course, you probably wonder how the education you receive through distance learning compares to the on-campus experience.

When you study online with the University of Missouri, you are enrolling at a highly regarded and accredited university. Your diploma and transcripts proudly identify you as a full-fledged MU student. And you study under the same leading scholars as students on campus.

For proof, look no further than the four MU faculty members recently named as 2015-16 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program fellows. Two of those professors also are leaders in MU's distance learning programs.

Professor and Chair Anna Ball teaches many of the courses in the agricultural education online master's. She also is interim director of graduate studies for MU's Agricultural Education and Leadership program. (What's more, Ball earned her doctorate right here at Mizzou. Can I get an M-I-Z?)

Joi Moore, PhD, is the associate division director at the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, where she manages graduate teaching assistants and the curriculum for the digital media online program. Watch Moore explain the school's mission in this video.

We are extremely proud of these two as well as the other MU fellows: Debbie Dougherty, associate dean of research at the College of Arts and Science, and Chuck Henson, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Law.

Outstanding faculty like these are what set the University of Missouri apart from other schools offering online programs. If you want one of the best distance learning experiences in the SEC, talk to Mizzou Online. Our advisers are ready to help you learn the skills you need to advance your education and career.

See how you can earn your MU degree online.

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Brick Johnstone found individuals' health is worse when they believe they are ill because they have done something wrong. Photo by Rob Hill.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Individuals who blame karma for their poor health have more pain and worse physical and mental health, according to a new study from University of Missouri researchers. Targeted interventions to counteract negative spiritual beliefs could help some individuals decrease pain and improve their overall health, the researchers said.

"In general, the more religious or spiritual you are, the healthier you are, which makes sense," said Brick Johnstone, a neuropsychologist and professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions.

"But for some individuals, even if they have even the smallest degree of negative spirituality — basically, when individuals believe they're ill because they've done something wrong and God is punishing them — their health is worse."

Read the full story by Jesslyn Chew here: Negative Spiritual Beliefs Associated with More Pain and Worse Physical, Mental Health

The School of Health Science offers an online program for students with prior college credit who want to complete a bachelor's degree in health-related field. The online BHS is ideal for students who would like to enter non-clinical occupations in the health care field, or students interested in graduate or professional programs after graduation.

Learn how you can get your Mizzou BHS online

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How you communicate with your professors can affect how they view you — and how fast you get a response.

Distance learning has many advantages, but there can be pitfalls — and pratfalls — when it comes to communication.

On any given day, your professor might get 50 emails. If it's the day before an assignment is due, that number is more like 100. Your adviser probably gets closer to 120.

In addition to teaching, professors at the University of Missouri also conduct research, mentor students, serve on committees and lead professional organizations.

Kelsey Allen at Mizzou News shares some tips from Mizzou professors and an adviser whose combined experience adds up to more than 150 years of working with students.

Read the full story here: Emailing Your Professor: You're Doing It Wrong

Each year Mizzou Online helps thousands of students advance their education and their careers.

We offer more than 90 degree and certificate options designed to deliver the same quality educational experience as the University of Missouri's on-campus programs.

You can experience a Mizzou education from anywhere — around your schedule. Browse our online degree programs and courses to find the best way to advance your desire to continue learning.

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Program director Robin Harris DNP, RN, will accept the UPCEA award on behalf of SSON.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — You already know that getting your college degree online is an affordable and convenient way to advance your career. But did you know that distance learning can also deliver award-winning innovation and academic excellence?

One example is the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing's (SSON) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. The DNP program recently received the Central Region Excellence Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).

"Our distance-mediated programs continue to evolve in supporting the latest trends and best learning methodologies in online learning," said DNP program director Robin Harris. "[SSON] continues to support innovative online instructional endeavors, which set our program apart from the many online nursing programs available."

Read the full story here: DNP Program Earns Prestigious Award

SSON offers six areas of study for the online DNP:

  • Adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Family psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric clinical nurse specialist
  • Nursing leadership and innovations in health care

Because the SSON DNP program is online, employees of hospitals and other health care organizations do not have to quit their jobs to relocate to continue their education. Not having to hire and train as many new nurses results in large cost savings for health care.

Non-resident graduate students enrolled through Mizzou Online qualify for in-state tuition rates, no matter where they study. Student activity fees are also waived for students enrolled in the online program.

SSON is highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report and is recognized as a leader in providing high quality and affordable lifelong learning opportunities for registered nurses, regardless of their specialty, practice setting, academic preparation or geographical location.

Learn more about the MU Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Mizzou Online degrees let you learn from researchers who are pioneering best practices in their fields. One such scholar is University of Missouri School of Social Work associate professor Aaron Thompson.

Thompson leads a team of MU researchers that has received nearly $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education for an intervention in promoting social and emotional skills for students.

The intervention, Self-Monitoring Training and Regulation Strategy (STARS), is a self-management and mindfulness skills program for fifth-grade students who regularly display disruptive and challenging behaviors in the classroom.

Thompson has also taught Evaluative Research in Clinical Social Work Practice, one course in the online master of social work degree offered through Mizzou Online.

"Kids who present behavior problems often have academic problems, and kids who have academic problems often present behavior problems," Thompson said. "We need to attend to both the academic and social-emotional development of students if we are to help them succeed in school and life beyond."

Thompson's collaborators are faculty in the MU College of Education, which also offers online graduate programs.

Read the full story here: Researchers Receive $3.5 Million to Improve Students' Classroom Behaviors, Study Connection to Academic Performance.

Delivered completely online, the 39-credit hour MSW prepares you for leadership opportunities with courses that build on your undergraduate education.

The online MSW is designed for part-time study with two courses, typically 6 credit hours of course work, per semester.

Mizzou's online graduate students pay in-state tuition rates, no matter where they study. Start earning your Mizzou MSW online today.

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Missouri's community college graduates who want to pursue a four-year degree while balancing work and family will now receive a tuition award toward University of Missouri online bachelor's degrees.

The Mizzou Online Community College Tuition Award provides a 10 percent tuition reduction for online undergraduate programs to Missouri residents who are graduates of Missouri's public community colleges. To be eligible, students must be accepted as degree seeking to one of MU's undergraduate distance programs. The award reduces the amount of base tuition and applies toward a maximum of 150 cumulative hours of undergraduate credit.

"Missouri community college graduates are among the best-prepared students enrolling in our four-year institutions for completion of the bachelor's degree and beyond," said Ron Chesbrough, chair of the Missouri Community College Association Presidents/Chancellors Council and president of St. Charles Community College. "We are pleased to count the University of Missouri among our four-year partners and we welcome this announcement of a tuition award for these highly sought after students."

Mizzou already has an Internet access agreement with member institutions of the Missouri Community College Association. The agreement gives students access to community college computer labs after their two-year program so they can work on their online degree from Mizzou.

"Providing Missourians with access to high-quality and well-respected degrees is at the core of our land-grant mission," said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies and e-Learning. "This tuition award helps make our online bachelor's programs even more accessible to students across our state."

MU offers nine undergraduate degree options online including Early Childhood Education in a Mobile Society, Educational Studies, General Studies, Health Sciences, Hospitality Management, Interdisciplinary Studies, Nursing (RN-to-BSN), Radiography and Respiratory Therapy.

Several transfer and articulation agreements that facilitate the transfer of community college graduates to Mizzou's online programs are in place.

"Mizzou has a robust transfer student community on-campus and online," said Chuck May, University of Missouri admissions director. "We look forward to serving recent community college graduates as well as those nontraditional students seeking to pursue a bachelor's degree."

For more information about the new tuition award, see http://online.missouri.edu/transfer/.


COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— Today, University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and Provost Garnett Stokes announced that MU will begin offering a 10 percent tuition award for all military personnel, veterans, their spouses and their children effective immediately. The award will reduce the amount of their base tuition and will apply toward a maximum of 150 hours of undergraduate credit and/or 75 hours of graduate credits toward a distance degree or certification program through Mizzou Online.

"We owe so much to those who are serving in our nation's military as well as their families. We are honored that many of them choose to get their education through the University of Missouri," Loftin said. "Although we cannot thank them enough, we hope this new award will be both an incentive and an aid as they enroll and work toward receiving a degree at Mizzou in their chosen fields."

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin
Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin

"Giving veterans this tuition break encourages them into accessible higher education, and this helps the veterans, their families and the Missouri economy," said Larry Kay, Missouri Veterans Commission executive director. "Mizzou realizes how important veterans are to the future of our state and our nation and how productive they can be in the workforce."

To qualify for the award, individuals must complete the following requirements:

  • Be an active-duty service member, veteran with honorable discharge, national guard or reservist. Dependents of these military personnel also are eligible for the award.
  • Be accepted to Mizzou as a degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate student who is working on a distance degree or certificate program through Mizzou Online.
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA.
Col. Randall Sparks of Whiteman Air Force Base
Col. Randall Sparks, Whiteman Air Force Base, speaks during the tuition award announcement ceremony. The award is a "gift to military members and veterans, but also a gift to the nation," Sparks said. "Education is a cornerstone of our readiness."

Service members are eligible for state and federal educational benefits, yet many members of the Armed Forces and their families have exhausted their benefits or do not qualify for full tuition coverage, based on years of service and other branch-specific restrictions.

"Mizzou's commitment to making higher education more accessible through online programs, a full-service Veterans Center and now this tuition assistance illustrates for veterans and their families that they have a place here," said Carol Fleisher, director of the MU Veterans Center. "This tuition award will help those veterans, including their spouses and children, using the various forms of education assistance."

"From my perspective, this is a tremendous offer from Mizzou that specifically benefits veterans, like me, who are using their Chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill because it allows their benefits to go further," said MU graduate student Joseph Osmack, who lives in Jacksonville, N.C., and chose Mizzou for the online master of public affairs program and organizational change certificate. "With the tuition award in place, I can apply the amount of my federal benefits that exceed my tuition toward classes that do not otherwise qualify for federal benefits."

For more information, please visit http://online.missouri.edu/military/tuition-award.aspx

For his dedication and service to the University of Missouri's many distance students, Mizzou Online Academic Adviser Ehren Oncken was honored as one of four finalists for the 2015 Major Mick Deaver Memorial Award, during the Staff Recognition Week awards ceremony on May 18. Established in 1980 by the MU Staff Advisory Council, the annual award goes to a staff member who exemplifies Deaver's concern for fostering good relations with students.

Oncken advises students in the online bachelor of general studies and interdisciplinary studies bachelor degree programs, and fields questions from prospective students for other distance undergraduate degree offerings. Oncken also assists non-degree seeking students (including high school students simultaneously earning college credit) with enrolling in online courses after they are admitted to Mizzou.

"Ehren is a courteous and patient professional who gives 110 percent to each student he works with," says Terrie Nagel, Mizzou Online assistant director. "Distance students may not understand MU's procedures, policies and guidelines, as readily as residential students because they aren't physically established on campus, and those processes may have been different at their former schools."

Oncken works with several departments to ensure distance students successfully navigate all aspects of their academic experience at Mizzou. "As the intake adviser, Ehren serves as students' first and main point of contact, helping them understand the necessary steps to apply for admissions and financial aid, create a graduation plan, enroll in classes and complete course requirements to earn their degrees from our university," says Nagel.

Nagel adds that his service to students was exemplified in a letter from Ron Covington, a recent BGS graduate, who wrote to Oncken just before the fall 2014 commencement: "I wanted to make sure that I let you know what a great job you have done answering all of my questions, helping me with different things and providing me with the information that I needed for class registration, course testing, etc. I was nervous about trying to do this online, but you and your staff have made this a great and rewarding experience for me. As you may or may not have known, I started this process of trying to achieve my college degree over 20 years ago, and because of work, kids and other commitments, I didn't think it was going to happen. But now, because of the MU online program and staff, this goal of mine will soon be achieved."

Major Mick Deaver was the associate director of the University Police Department at the time of his death in 1980. The council's awards selection committee distinguished Oncken and three additional MU staff as finalists from a campus-wide pool of nominees. Brian Booton, program coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research, won this year's award.

With the University of Missouri's spring 2015 commencement weekend just days away, more than 350 online students can proudly count themselves among the newest Mizzou graduates, joining the nearly 275,000 living alumni around the globe. This group of online graduates ranges in age from 22 to 56 and is celebrating their academic achievements throughout 32 states and three other countries, including Canada, France and Korea.

Mizzou, too, is proudly celebrating their accomplishments with a dedicated spring 2015 online commencement ceremony for those students who have completed their education at a distance. Of the 355 graduates who have endeavored to balance career, family and online study, 66 have earned their bachelor's, and 289 are receiving their graduate and doctoral degrees, including this year's student guest speaker, Victoria Clayton-Alexander.

Clayton-Alexander is celebrating her master of arts in journalism, which she earned while working as a Southern California freelance journalist, raising two young sons and drafting a novel. Originally from Iowa, Clayton-Alexander said she struggled with the decision to go back to school, despite her success as a journalist in Southern California. "I tell people that I returned to school so I could have a good night's rest," says Clayton-Alexander. "I was going along as a writer, but there was something in me that wouldn't let me rest until I got my master's degree." She says that deep down, she knew her time would come. "I just had an epiphany: if I didn't start a master's degree program now, I was just not going to do it. Ever. The thought of never doing it made me investigate programs," she said. "Being a journalist from the Midwest, I knew Mizzou. If I was going to get my master's degree, I wanted it to be from a respected institution."

In addition to Clayton-Alexander's inspirational message to her fellow graduates, the online ceremony includes remarks from Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and e-Learning Jim Spain.

"Each class of Mizzou's distance graduates has something so distinctive to be proud of," says Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. "These students have worked tirelessly over many months and years, juggling a host of responsibilities to realize their academic dreams. Every graduate has made education a priority in life, and we could not be more excited for all of them to celebrate their achievements with us. We encourage friends, families and fellow Tigers to please congratulate the 2015 graduates by posting kudos at the online commencement site."

Much like the on-campus commencement exercises this week, the virtual graduation experience includes activities for graduates and their supporters. Well-wishers can leave congratulatory notes for individuals or groups of online graduates in the guest book, where visitors can read inspiring messages written by others, and graduating students also can post pictures of themselves in the photo gallery.

For more information about the on-campus graduation ceremonies please visit the Registrar's commencement page.