This week, nearly 350 online students are joining the 274,000-plus living alumni who proudly count themselves graduates of the University of Missouri. Mizzou's summer and fall 2014 online commencement ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of those students who have completed their education at a distance. Of those, 97 have earned their bachelor's, and 250 are receiving their graduate and doctoral degrees.

"The online ceremony honors these graduating students who have made their education a priority despite the challenges, especially as many have had to juggle hours of course work with full-time jobs, family and other commitments," says Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. "These graduates all have exhibited tremendous commitment to achieve their degrees; we're extremely proud of their perseverance and dedication — and we hope that the graduates will forward the commencement link so their proud friends and families can also celebrate this life accomplishment."

This group of online graduates range in age from 20 to 62, hailing from 35 states and four other countries in North America, Europe and Asia. Of the graduates, 229 are from Missouri.

Much like the on-campus commencement exercises taking place in the coming days, the online ceremony features speeches by several campus leaders, including Interim Provost Kenneth D. Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and e-Learning Jim Spain.

The virtual graduation experience also 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.

Friends, families and fellow Tigers: Please congratulate the graduates by posting in the guest book.

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

Expanding nationwide access to quality education-oriented care options for children from birth to age 8 is one goal of the University of Missouri's new online Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education in a mobile society (BS HES). With its new offering, the College of Human Environmental Sciences aims to further the reach of skilled professionals working with young children.

"Families nationwide truly need learning environments that support the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of their small children," said Jean Ispa, professor and co-chair of the college's Department of Human Development and Family Studies. "Young children of working families often require all-day childcare or before-and-after-school care once they start elementary school, and it's very important that that care be of high quality."

Ispa expects that graduates of the BS HES program will be likely to make significant impacts within their own communities, if they can maintain their day-to-day local ties while earning their degrees at a distance.

"We want to train the next generation of professionals who will help create high-quality learning environments for children within their own communities," Ispa said. "We're offering this program online so that students who live far from the university, even overseas, or whose other obligations make it difficult to attend day classes have the option to study without relocating for college."

The program is now accepting enrollments for the spring 2015 semester; classes begin in mid-January and are 100 percent online. Ispa encourages students not to hesitate calling to discuss the program's potential fit.

"We can work with students who are still earning their general education requirements so that they are well-prepared for the early childhood bachelor's course work once they're accepted into the sequence," she said. "This program has something for anyone who is still working toward their bachelor's and is interested in working with young children."

It does not prepare students for public school teacher certification.

Students who apply to the program at Mizzou will take some courses that are taught through other institutions as part of the Great Plains IDEA consortium, but all credit hours (and the degree) are earned through MU. Space in the online program is limited, but new students can start the program in January, June or August.

For more information, see

Two national distance education organizations are recognizing the University of Missouri with awards for online course development, distance education research and marketing efforts related to Mizzou's online education programs.

"These honors help distinguish Mizzou faculty as leaders in developing online curricula — and our staff as among the most experienced and dedicated in distance education today," said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies and e-Learning at the University of Missouri. "Mizzou faculty and staff are working collaboratively to ensure student success."

ADEIL Helen Williams University Course Award

Dr. Nikole Cronk, clinical assistant professor in the MU School of Medicine's family and community medicine department, was honored by the Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning (ADEIL) with the 2014 Helen Williams Award. Cronk's Psychology 3830: Health Psychology is an online, self-paced course and features video, engaging commentary and detailed instructor feedback. Cronk worked with Educational Technologies at Missouri (ET@MO) for instructional design assistance.

This recognition is named for Helen Williams, a distance education pioneer from the University of Iowa. The award recognizes the accomplishment of the instructor, author, primary editor and/or course developer in creating exemplary college-level courses that focus on student learning outcomes and overall design and content.

A representative from Mizzou Online accepted the award on Cronk's behalf at the association's annual conference at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, on Oct. 15.

UPCEA Research and Publication Award

Terrie Nagel, Mizzou Online Assistant Director, won the University Professional and Continuing Education Association's (UPCEA's) 2014 Research and Publication Award, as part of the group's Central Region Celebration of Excellence Program. UPCEA selected Nagel's dissertation, titled "Academic Achievement and Persistence in Online Self-Paced Courses" for its originality and impact on the field of adult and continuing education, recognizing Nagel's research as exhibiting promise to make a significant contribution to the study of education.

"The specific purpose of the study is to examine academic achievement for students enrolled in online self-paced courses who have different prior course delivery experiences," Nagel said. "The goal is to investigate how students relate to their academic achievement in online self-paced courses, given their prior course delivery experiences. These areas were previously un-researched in the literature."

A University of Missouri staff member for 20 years, Nagel is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education. She earned her master's degree in Educational Psychology from Mizzou and two bachelor's degrees from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Nagel will accept the award at the UPCEA Central Region Conference on Oct. 23 in Denver.

UPCEA Marketing Award

Mizzou Online won gold for the radio advertising category in the UPCEA's annual Marketing Awards competition. Each year the organization's Marketing, Enrollment and Student Services Network sponsors the competition to recognize effective marketing and recruitment practices in the field of professional, continuing and online education.

A representative from Mizzou Online will accept the award on Nov. 6 during the 23rd UPCEA Marketing and Enrollment Management Seminar in Atlanta.

ADEIL is an association that provides professional development and networking opportunities for all those engaged in or interested in distance education.

UPCEA is a national association advancing leadership in professional, continuing and online education. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA builds greater awareness of the vital link between adult learners and public policy issues.

For the sixth-consecutive year, the University of Missouri has been awarded the Military Friendly® school title by Victory Media, a media company specializing in information for military personnel transitioning to civilian life. The list honors the top-20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America's military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

From veterans of the Spanish-American War to current military personnel, countless service men and women have attended and graduated from Mizzou.

"MU was one of the first schools in the nation to create a full-service, one-stop shop to help our veterans transition from the military to the classroom," said Carol Fleisher, director of the MU Veterans Center. "We are very pleased to receive this award and to be recognized for our work in assisting our veterans."

In 2008, MU became one of four universities in the nation to have a full-service Veterans Center for student veterans, military personnel and employee veterans. The center has taken the lead in facilitating veterans' transitions to and from active duty and from the military to academia.

At the start of the fall 2014 semester, Mizzou had more than 350 veterans enrolled. In addition, the MU Veterans Center serves dependents of veterans, taking the total number of students served by the Veterans Center to nearly 700.

Availability of online courses and degrees also makes MU a good choice for the military. More than 90 degree and certificate programs are available entirely or partially online.

"It's the breadth of online options we offer that gives active duty, on-base personnel and veterans so much from which to choose," said Kim Siegenthaler, director of Mizzou Online. "Because Mizzou's online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on the MU campus, graduates are earning a respected credential. Plus, the format of online courses allows students the flexibility they need to meet family and work commitments."

The Military Friendly Schools® media and website, found at, feature the list, interactive tools and search functionality to help military students find the best school to suit their unique needs and preferences. The schools on this year's list have world-class programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility, and other services for those who served.

"Inclusion on the 2015 list of Military Friendly Schools® shows Missouri's commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students," said Sean Collins, Vice President at Victory Media and a nine-year Navy veteran. "The need for education is growing and our mission is to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools."

For more information about the MU Veterans Center and its services, visit

Independent college search website chose the top online program in each state; Mizzou was selected as the best online institution in Missouri.

The website's editors indicate their selection was based on a combination of academic excellence, faculty strength, reputation, awards and the number of online degree programs offered. The group previously listed Mizzou among the 30 Best Online Colleges for 2014 when additional criteria, such as teaching methods and tuition were factored in.

"Providing access to Mizzou for those who can't relocate to the Columbia campus is integral to our land-grant mission," said Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. "Faculty in Mizzou's schools and colleges are actively working to develop courses and degrees that meet the growing demand for high quality, well-respected online education."

Sarah Smith-Frigerio, graduate adviser for four distance master's programs in journalism, won the Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award for staff support. She also teaches in the program.

"Sarah has the aptitude to inspire, guide and mentor students through independent and creative thinking. She serves as a mentor, collaborator and consultant to other faculty and teaching assistants by helping to enrich the scholarship of teaching and learning," says Melissa Ingram, Mizzou Online senior program coordinator, who nominated Frigerio-Smith for her ability to engage students both in and out of the classroom. "She is a positive example for faculty and staff across campus to help them cultivate an approach to using technology to enhance teaching and improve student learning."

Smith-Frigerio oversees the advising for MU's online master's of arts journalism degree programs in health communication, interactive media, strategic communication and media management.

The university's annual Excellence in Teaching with Technology Awards recognize the extraordinary efforts of faculty, staff, teaching assistants and graduate instructors involved in using educational technologies to meaningfully improve teaching and learning at Mizzou.

All 2014 Excellence in Teaching with Technology Awards recipients include:

  • Graduate/Professional Teaching Award — Marilyn James-Kracke, Department of Medical Pharmacology & Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award — Sarah Bush, Division of Biological Sciences, College of Arts & Science
  • Graduate Instructor/Teaching Assistant Award — Jessica Klockow, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts & Science
  • Staff Support Award — Sarah Smith-Frigerio, Graduate Program, School of Journalism

A celebration luncheon for the winners and members of the award selection committee will be scheduled later this fall.

As the new academic year started at the University of Missouri on Aug. 25, Mizzou's students — on-campus and distance alike — once again created record first-day enrollment figures.

With 90-plus online degree offerings to choose from, 2,245 distance students currently are working toward certificates and bachelor's, master's, educational specialist and doctoral degrees. In addition, 5,793 MU students already are enrolled in one or more of the 994 classes offered through Mizzou Online (nearly 800 of which are taught completely online).

Read more about Mizzou’s record numbers of first-day enrollments for the 2014-15 academic year.

Ranking more than just the prices of tuition, recently compiled a list of the most affordable online colleges in the United States, taking into account both cost and quality, among other indicators. Each school was then stack-ranked by the sum of the weighted scores. The University of Missouri ranked No. 8, with a total ranking score of 686.

The organization started with the U.S. News and World Report "2014 Best Online Bachelor's Programs" list (in which Mizzou ranked No. 48 out of 209 schools listed in the results and then re-analyzed that pre-filtered group of schools by assigning a score to each school, using the following "major factors of affordability":

  1. retention rate: the percentage of freshmen that continue on to sophomore year
  2. graduation rate: the percentage of freshmen that acquire a diploma in a designated period of time
  3. resident (in state) price score: a measure of the relative price per credit hour of education for an in-state student
  4. nonresident (out of state) price score: a measure of the relative price per credit hour of education for an out of state student
  5. breadth of offering score: a measure of the relative number of degree programs offered by the school

For more information about the Edudemic rankings, visit the group's "The Truth About Cheap Online Colleges & Affordable Online Schools" write-up.

The University of Missouri's College of Education is now accepting applications for three new online programs: a graduate certificate in positive psychology, an M Ed in English education and an M Ed in mathematics education.

"Our goal is to offer curricula in unique and meaningful ways that improve teaching and leadership," said Daniel L. Clay, dean of the College of Education. "Providing access to more online graduate programs enables students at all levels to advance."

Positive Psychology Certificate
The 15-credit-hour graduate certificate in positive psychology is a personal and professional development course series focused on the science of well-being and flourishing, which aims to enhance the effectiveness of people in helping professions, leaders in business and government, and those transitioning careers.

"We are excited to have built one of the first education credentials stemming from the field of Positive Psychology," said Cory Elfrink, adjunct instructor in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology. "The track will enhance the capability and marketability of professionals involved with life/career coaching, teaching, managing, organizational consulting and more."

Applicants should submit their materials as soon as possible in order to be ready for classes that begin Aug. 25. The GRE is not required for this graduate certificate.

English Education M Ed
The master of education in learning, teaching and curriculum with an emphasis in English education is intended for certified teachers who focus on writing, language arts, media, reading or literature.

The online graduate degree also can be used by professionals in other industries. "The program will help people in several types of careers, such as professional editing, corporate training, public relations or technical writing positions," said Roy Fox, faculty coordinator.

Admission applications are due Oct. 1, and classes begin January 2015. The GRE is required for admission.

Mathematics Education M Ed
Certified mathematics teachers who want to advance their knowledge and careers can now earn a master’s degree in mathematics education completely online from the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum.

"The program can be tailored to any grade level," said Sam Otten, faculty coordinator. "Each student will have their own advisory committee to help plan courses that meet their individual goals, such as focusing on equity and diversity in mathematics education or teaching math with technology."

Admission applications are due Oct. 1, and classes begin January 2015. The GRE is required for admission.

Online graduate students pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live.

For more information about these and other online graduate degrees and certificates from Mizzou’s College of Education, visit

In today's ever-growing, online-educated job candidate pool, Mizzou is setting its distance graduates apart by equipping them better as students, with more access to mainstream-campus programs and resources, as the Columbia Business Times discusses in its July 24 "Degrees from a Distance" online feature.