Mizzou tied for the No. 18 spot out of 69 programs rated nationwide as offering the "Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans," in the 2014 U.S. News and World Report Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings, released on May 20. In addition, Mizzou ranked No. 19 of 21 schools considered to have the "Best Online Nursing Programs for Veterans" and No. 36 of 44 in "Best Online Education Programs for Veterans."

Now in its second year, the organization's annual rankings for online education programs geared best towards meeting veterans' needs covers online bachelor's degree programs, as well as online graduate degree programs in business, computer information technology , education, engineering and nursing.

"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 academics," says Carol Fleisher, director of the MU Veterans Center. "Whether they're studying with us abroad, at their homes or on our campus, MU cares about our student veterans, and we're honored by their commitment to pursuing their education with us. They bring tradition, focus, experience and a positive attitude that complements MU's core values. So we are intent in making their academic careers successful."

In 2008, Mizzou became one of only four universities in the nation to have a dedicated Veterans Center. The center facilitates MU's student veterans transitioning in to academia from active-duty or retired military. "MU has provided distance education to non-traditional students for more than a century and was an early adopter of online learning," says Kim Siegenthaler, director of Mizzou Online. "Since the University offered its first online course in 1997, Mizzou has worked to bring more educational options to our country's veterans, especially those who simply cannot be on any campus to attend class. In just the past year alone, we've launched three new online bachelor's programs that are particularly well-suited for students with various military backgrounds, and MU will continue to develop online degrees and certificates that fit veterans' career interests, experience and training."

According to the U.S. News website, there are several reasons why institutions providing online education programs rank differently when it comes to a military audience. (See Why U.S. News and World reports ranks schools for veterans.) "Like other students, veterans and active-duty service members gain most from distance education that is affordable, accessible and reputable. The 2014 Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings measure these factors in consideration of benefits available specifically to people with military experience."

To be considered academically qualified for the veterans ranking, regionally accredited schools not only had to already have performed well enough on a multitude of factors to be counted in the 2014 Best Online Programs ranking, but they also had to meet four federal benefit criteria, which are significantly important to the military community. Then, based on its overarching "2014 Best Online Programs" position among the corresponding disciplines, U.S. News further ranked each veterans-friendly program numerically in descending order. Less than 20 percent (197 out of 998) of the online degree programs that reported data to U.S. News about veterans benefits currently offered for distance education programs are included in the "2014 Best Online Programs for Veterans" rankings. Only two other Missouri schools made the rankings for bachelor's programs, both private institutions.

For more detailed explanation of the U.S. News Best Online Veterans Programs rankings, see the organization's methodologies section. For more information about the MU Veterans Center and its services, visit http://veterans.missouri.edu/.

Nearly 250 online students are joining this week the 274,000 living alumni who proudly count themselves graduates of the University of Missouri. Mizzou’s spring 2014 online commencement ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of those students who have completed their education at a distance.

“These graduates all have exhibited tremendous commitment to achieve their degrees, 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. "We created the online ceremony to honor these students who have made their education a priority despite the challenges. And we hope that the graduates will forward the commencement link to their supporters so that many of their friends and families can also celebrate this life accomplishment."

This semester’s online graduates range in age from 22 to 59 and come from 28 states and China. 150 of the graduates are from Missouri.

The online ceremony consists of video remarks from campus officials, much like the on-campus commencement exercises taking place this week. The virtual graduation experience features speeches by several campus leaders, including Mizzou’s new Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, Vice Provost for e-Learning Jim Spain and Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies Leona Rubin.

At the site, well-wishers can leave congratulatory notes for individuals or groups of online graduates in the guest book, visitors can read inspiring messages written by others, and graduating students can even post pictures of themselves in the photo gallery.

Friends, families and supporters of MU: 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.

Kim Siegenthaler has been named director of Mizzou Online, after serving as interim co-director for the last three years. Siegenthaler has held primary administrative responsibility for program coordination and marketing units in her interim position and played a major role in the merger of MU Direct, the Center for Distance and Independent Study and Extension Marketing to create Mizzou Online in 2011.

"It is an exciting time to work in distance education and at Mizzou," Siegenthaler said. "I feel privileged to lead Mizzou Online as we continue to enhance the support we provide distance programs and students."

In the past three years, Siegenthaler coordinated a collaborative effort to establish new policies and procedures for identifying, tracking and enrolling distance students; assessing tuition and fees; and reporting on distance students and programs to internal and external audiences. She also formed the Mizzou Online Recruit, Engage and Retain Team to focus on distance students.

"Distance education at Mizzou has come a long way in recent years," Siegenthaler said. "Numerous offices around campus have supported efforts to mainstream distance education into the University and many academic units have launched new distance programs. I look forward to continuing the momentum we are experiencing."

Prior to her stint as interim co-director, Siegenthaler spent one year as assistant director of MU Direct.

"We are excited to have Kim lead Mizzou Online," said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies and e-Learning. "She has been a valuable contributor as we have transformed distance education at MU. We are appreciative for the leadership she has already provided and anticipate great things ahead for Mizzou Online."

Offering more than 90 University of Missouri graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificate options, Mizzou Online has seen significant growth in enrollment, along with an increase in degree programs offerings in the past three years. Recently, Mizzou Online was recognized with the Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

"The search committee screened more than 30 great candidates from private and public institutions all across the nation," said Leona Rubin, associate vice chancellor for graduate studies and co-chair of the search committee. "Ultimately, we selected five outstanding candidates to interview on campus and meet with campus stakeholders. After very thorough evaluation and feedback from all stakeholders, the committee overwhelmingly felt that Kim was the best fit for Mizzou and the best candidate for the task of leading Mizzou Online into the future."

Before coming to MU, Siegenthaler spent seven years as the director of continuing education and alumni relations at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, where she directed the development, delivery and evaluation of a variety of online and on-site continuing education offerings.

Prior to that, Siegenthaler was a faculty member at Appalachian State University for eight years and at Texas State University for four years. She served as academic program director for three years at both Appalachian State and Texas State, with additional responsibilities related to curriculum development, program development, recruitment and program accreditation.

Siegenthaler holds a bachelor's degree from Baylor University, a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate from the University of New Mexico. She also holds a Master's of Divinity from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

Lawrence H. Ganong, University of Missouri professor and co-chair of MU's Human Development and Family Studies department, was awarded the 2014 Friend of the Great Plains IDEA Award. Ganong, along with Maurice MacDonald, of Kansas State University, received the award for guiding a new online program and inspiring faculty commitment to human science degrees of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA). The honor came at the Great Plains IDEA annual meeting April 7, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo.

The two men have worked together and led department chairs involving three inter-institutional human sciences programs of the Great Plains IDEA: Youth Development, Family Financial Planning and — a new offering — Family and Community Services.

"Ganong and MacDonald have managed to lead with a sense of mission and dose of humor that has contributed greatly to the recent success and growth of the entire GPIDEA," said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, Kansas State University faculty teaching for the alliance Youth Development program.

Oklahoma State University faculty Glade Topham, who participates in alliance Family and Community Services programming, said: "Larry and Morey brought experience and wisdom to the process that quickly earned the respect of team members. …Both men are self-effacing, unassuming and gentle and effectively utilized humor throughout the process. These characteristics allowed them to prevent and quickly diffuse tension on challenging issues while bringing the group to unanimous agreement on the important issues."

The University of Missouri participates in four of the eight Great Plains IDEA human sciences programs and four of the 10 agriculture programs. There are 20 member institutions in Great Plains IDEA. Students enroll in one alliance university as a home institution. Students then take online courses from any of the universities in the alliance offering their program of study.

For more information about the award, contact Carol Gould, executive director Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance at cgould@ksu.edu, or 785-532-6848.

Missourians who started college but did not graduate are invited to "finish like a Tiger" by applying to one of the University of Missouri's online bachelor's degrees. Mizzou recently added two undergraduate degree completion options — a bachelor of educational studies and a bachelor of science in hospitality management. Other majors include general studies, health sciences, interdisciplinary studies, radiography, respiratory therapy and RN-BSN.

"By adding online bachelor's degree options, we are making Mizzou more accessible to Missourians who can't relocate to campus to finish their undergraduate education," said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies and interim vice provost for eLearning. "If you started school someplace else and would really like to have an MU degree on your résumé, this is your chance to finish like a Tiger."

Courses in the programs are taught by the same faculty who teach on campus. Faculty credentials was just one of the criteria cited in a recent U.S. News & World Report study that ranked MU's online bachelor's programs in the top 50 nationally.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2012 there were more than 900,000 Missourians who had started but never completed college.

"Our effort to increase the number of Missourians with bachelor's degrees is premised on 175 years of being the state's land-grant institution," Spain said. "Accessibility to education should not be a deterrent to those wanting to complete their degrees."

Those who dropped out of college with just a few hours, even many years ago, are encouraged to consider Mizzou. "Watching the post-traditional students move through our program while balancing full-time jobs and families is so rewarding," said Kristofer Hagglund, dean of the School of Health Professions, which offers three health sciences degrees online. "We are used to working with students who come back to school after long breaks; we understand their needs."

Many community college graduates already choose Mizzou to earn their four-year degrees at the Columbia, Mo., campus. This initiative invites those who don't want to relocate to earn bachelor's degree online. The efforts builds on the University's recent Internet connectivity agreement that gives Missouri community college alumni continued access to computer labs to complete Mizzou course work.

"MU provides excellent options for community college graduates to pursue their four-year degrees on campus and online," said Kim Houston, transfer admissions coordinator. "For those who are place-bound after earning their two-year degrees, the option to still be able to earn a bachelor's degree is helpful. There is so much potential for career growth and change with a Mizzou degree."

Those interested in transferring their previously earned credits to Mizzou should apply by early summer to start classes in August. Learn more at online.missouri.edu/finish.

Demand for professionals who understand the impact of global health concerns is at an all-time high. To help meet the need for graduate education in this area, the University of Missouri is making its master of public health (MPH) program available online.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts faster-than-average job growth for health care managers through the year 2022.

"Graduate education in public health opens myriad career opportunities," said Lise Saffran, MPH interim program director. "We have alumni who focus on the aging population, infant health and safety, international travel and food security, and antibiotic resistance and disease control. The opportunities for public health graduates are plentiful."

The new online master's degree requires 45 credit hours and can be completed with 100 percent online course work.

"By making the MPH available online, we are opening the doors for those who have been wanting a Mizzou education — the Mizzou MPH specifically — but who can't relocate away from family and job responsibilities," Saffran said.

Classes are taught by the same faculty who teach in the on-campus program.

"Our program focuses on health promotion and policy, and you will study health program planning and evaluation on the community level, as well as how health policies are made and changed," Saffran said. "The program is multidisciplinary, with teaching faculty from departments across the University of Missouri. The breadth and depth of experience and research expertise you will encounter as a student is unmatched."

Space in the online program is limited, but new students can start the program in June, August or January. Applications for summer entry are due May 1, and those seeking to start course work in August should apply by July 1.

The University of Missouri has won the 2014 Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), at the groups' annual conference in Miami. The award, in its inaugural year, honors Mizzou for its institution-wide commitment to online education.

"Our goal is to recognize institutions that have made the investment in time and human resources to design effective online learning experiences," said Robert Hansen, UPCEA CEO. "This award confers one of the highest distinctions within our profession, honoring, in particular, how an institution develops and meets strategic and innovative goals for online education."

UPCEA is the leading national organization for professional, continuing and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA serves more than 365 institutions across the country, including the University of Missouri. The awards committee sought examples of higher education organizations that had set and met innovative goals in collaborative ways — whether on one campus, within a system or through a consortium — and been strategic in the planning, development, implementation and sustainability in line with the institutional mission.

Mizzou began reorganizing the offices responsible for distance education in 2010 and formally created the Mizzou Online office in 2011 as part of the Provost's Office. The realignment required campuswide collaboration among administrative offices, academic departments, technology and administrative support teams.

Online program availability has grown steadily for years at Mizzou, and there are more than 90 degree and certificate options available wholly or partly online. The growth in programs has come with policy and process improvements affecting many facets of the campus' academic infrastructure.

"The work we have done to form the Mizzou Online office is a great tribute to those before us who positioned online distance education for future success at MU," says Jim Spain, MU's vice provost of undergraduate studies and e-Learning. "This award represents the work of so many faculty and staff who have served distance education at MU for decades. Our success really is a testament to the great partners we have all across our campus who have been integral to our progress as Missouri's land-grant institution."

"Both the awards committee members and the leadership of UPCEA thank the University of Missouri for sharing its initiative and inventive implementation of this online education merger, a model to which others in higher education can aspire," Hansen said.

MU's online commencement ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of more than 300 students across the globe and in 37 states — from Alaska to Florida — who have completed their bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degrees online since May 2013. The website features online invitations for graduates to email, encouraging their friends and family to "attend graduation," sign the guestbook and view video remarks from campus officials, including Dr. Leona Rubin, interim director of graduate studies.

The virtual "Pomp and Circumstance" also includes speeches from Provost Brian Foster, Vice Provost Jim Spain and Mizzou Alumni Association Executive Director Todd McCubbin.

"The virtual commencement site means a lot to Mizzou Online, as we honor MU's latest group of online graduates, their many supporters and all MU alumni," says Kim Siegenthaler, co-director of Mizzou Online. "The videos, photo gallery and congratulatory comments reflect the spirit and dedication of these graduates who've accomplished so much at Mizzou, despite their physical distances from campus."

No matter where you are located — you, too, can now "attend" the ceremony, post a note to the guest book page and read inspiring messages written by others who are proud of the new Class of 2013 Mizzou alumni.

The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine is now accepting applications for its new online master of science degree in biomedical sciences, with an emphasis in veterinary medicine and surgery. Classes begin in January.

The 30-hour program is designed for working veterinarians, as well as veterinary technicians and biological sciences baccalaureate degree graduates, to earn their master's degrees, without having to relocate &mdash or even leave work &mdash to attend classes. "Our goal is to help students better understand the intersection of veterinary and biomedical sciences as a whole, so they can combine their technical knowledge and real-world experience to become more effective in their professions," said C.B. Chastain, DVM, professor in veterinary medicine and surgery, MU Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences.

The program focuses on the scientific principles of veterinary medicine and surgery including the physiology, pathology, toxicology, pathobiology, cytology, clinical chemistry and cell biology of animals, and can be a stepping stone to further scientific research, residency completion or doctoral programs.

Graduates of the program are well-suited for career advancement in scientific study, academia or clinical settings.

The online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach in Mizzou's residential classes.

"The faculty is excited to provide an online program that brings together a complete educational package for our graduate student professionals who are studying at a distance," Chastain said. "Our specialty is educating veterinarians and professionals, and this online option gives more students the chance to study with our faculty."

Graduate students enrolled in the online program pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live.

Applicants seeking admission for the upcoming semester &mdash January 2014 &mdash should submit their materials as soon as possible to the University of Missouri Graduate School. For more information about the online program, including admission requirements and a detailed course planner, visit online.missouri.edu/BiomedSciencesNews or contact biomed@missouri.edu.

Also, read how Mizzou's new online masters in biomedical sciences was featured in the Columbia Daily Tribune on Dec. 1, 2013.

The University of Missouri College of Education is now accepting applications for two online degree programs previously only available to on-campus students. The bachelor of educational studies and the master of education in educational psychology with a focus in student learning and well-being will both offer online classes beginning in January.

"The MU College of Education is committed to providing students access to quality education programs whether they live in Columbia, Mo., or thousands of miles around the world," says Daniel L. Clay, dean of the MU College of Education. "With more than 30 online and hybrid degree programs, the college continues to be an online leader at MU."

"Adding these options to Mizzou's online portfolio is an important step in fulfilling our mission as a public, land-grant institution," said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate students and interim vice provost for e-Learning. "Because Mizzou's online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on campus, students have increased access to the very best Mizzou has to offer."

Bachelor of Educational Studies (BES)

The bachelor of educational studies is designed for professionals wanting to work in adult and continuing education or in workforce training programs. The degree program is especially well-suited to military veterans who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree. College of Education advisers and faculty members will work with the MU Veterans Center to support active duty and veteran military service members in the program.

While the college has been offering online graduate degrees for years, this is the college's first online undergraduate degree option. "The online BES prepares students for a variety of careers working with adult learners. This includes instructional and administrative positions at community colleges, as well as professional opportunities in workforce development programs, human resource training and continuing professional education," said Tony Barbis, BES program coordinator and College of Education associate teaching professor. "Students are given quite a bit of latitude in choosing courses that best meet their particular educational goals."

Because the program is designed for career fields that work with adult learners, it does not lead to Missouri state teacher certification. Applications for the BES are due Dec. 1, 2013. Courses in the program are 100 percent online.

Student Learning and Well-Being (M Ed)

Created by faculty in the Educational, School and Counseling Psychology Department, this graduate focus area is for K-12 teachers who want to focus on the whole student while improving learning. Courses will cover bullying, violence prevention, positive psychology, classroom assessments, human learning and the creation of supportive learning environments.

"We have focused on course work that will encourage teachers to approach learning and student well-being as two inseparable parts of the whole student," said Stephen Whitney, program coordinator and Educational Psychology associate professor. "Teachers will benefit from practical solutions created to decrease barriers and increase learning."

The GRE is not required for admission to the program. Graduate students enrolled in the online program pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live. Applicants should submit their materials as soon as possible in order to gain admission to the University for January 2014 course work.

For more information about both online programs, visit online.missouri.edu/ed-degrees.