University of Missouri faculty excel in their fields, bringing discoveries and creative achievements into the classroom as well as publishing in prestigious journals.

Rui Yao

One such faculty member is Rui Yao, an associate professor of personal financial planning in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, who has identified key factors that cause people to make common investment mistakes.

The recent stock market decline is concerning for many investors who are affected by short-term market trends. However, experts say now is an important time for investors to remember that many mistakes can be made in this economic environment


Yao’s study, published in the Journal of Personal Finance, identifies several risk factors for people who are more likely to make investment mistakes during a down market. “During a down market, every mistake an investor makes is magnified,” Yao said. “If financial planners can identify those who are more at risk to make these mistakes, they can more effectively work with the investors beforehand to help prevent them from making such mistakes.”

Read the full story here: Overconfidence, loss aversion are key predictors for investment mistakes

Yao is the director of graduate studies in the Department of Personal Financial Planning and teaches courses in the online master’s and online graduate certificate programs.

The master’s is 36 credit hours and has no thesis component, but requires a practicum and capstone course that focuses on case studies.

The graduate certificate program is 18 credit hours and focuses on employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, and case analysis.

Want to help individuals and families make informed and effective decisions so they can achieve their financial goals and grow stronger? Learn more about MU’s online master’s and online graduate certificate in personal financial planning.

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Graduate certificate in education improvement is first of its kind in the U.S.

The University of Missouri’s College of Education is now accepting applications for a new online graduate certificate in education improvement. The 100 percent online program helps professionals working at all levels of education gain experience in quality management.

The 12-credit-hour graduate certificate in education improvement is the first of its kind nationally and is designed to allow students to continue working in leadership roles while taking classes.

Blake Naughton
Executive Director of the Hook Center for Educational Renewal
University of Missouri College of Education

“When you enroll, you get a solid foundation in data-driven educational improvement,” said Blake Naughton, coordinator of the education improvement program and Executive Director of the Hook Center for Educational Renewal. “You will also create, as part of your course work, a real project that you can actually put to work to help improve your school district’s performance.”


The education improvement graduate certificate is aligned with the NIST Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, a data-driven approach to strategic planning and knowledge management that is being adopted by a growing number of school districts in Missouri and across the country.

“We seek constantly to help improve outcomes for schools, their teachers and their students,” said Kathryn Chval, acting dean of the College of Education. “Our hope ultimately is to help students make the most of their education experience.”

Like all graduate distance programs offered by MU, the education improvement graduate certificate program is available to students everywhere at in-state tuition rates.


The College of Education is accepting admissions to the program on a rolling basis and no GRE scores are required. The first course begins this March. Prospective students can submit an application for post-baccalaureate admission (graduate) to enroll for the first semester and then formally apply to the program.

Learn more information about the online graduate certificate in education improvement at

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John Scanlan discovered his lifelong passion for photography as a teen, leafing through photos of photos from the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War in Life and Look magazines.

Five decades later, Scanlan has enjoyed a rewarding career as a photojournalist. Recently retired, he took the time to apply his experience in earning an online master’s degree from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.

“I didn’t go into this with a tremendous amount of confidence,” Scanlan said. “I didn’t know whether I had what it took.”

As it turns out, he did. Scanlan received his master’s from the University of Missouri in December, 42 years after he first enrolled at MU.

As a young man, Scanlan had earned a bachelor’s degree in literature before enlisting in the Army, where he served as a photographer. In 1972, he left the military and planned to attend grad school.

A commercial photographer recommended he try MU. “He told me it was the best school in the country for photojournalism,” Scanlan said. “It was the best advice I could have received.”

At MU Scanlan studied under Angus McDougall, who instilled an intensity and passion for photojournalism in his students.

“He let us know that if we cared about the profession, we were going to have to fight and argue and proselytize others in the industry to prove that we knew what we were doing so that our voices would be heard,” Scanlan said.

Before he could finish his master’s project, however, Scanlan found work as a photojournalist through MU alumni at The Coffeyville (Kansas) Journal. He went on to become photo editor at The Greeley (Colorado) Tribune before accepting an offer in 1986 to become a picture editor at The Hartford (Connecticut) Courant and, eventually, director of photography.

At every step of his career, Scanlan found classmates from Mizzou and other alumni who also had studied under McDougall. “We shared the same values and trusted each others’ judgment,” Scanlan said.

Over the years those alumni, and McDougall himself, encouraged Scanlan to finish his master’s degree. So when Scanlan retired in 2011, he enrolled in the online master’s program from the MU School of Journalism.

Despite his abundant experience, Scanlan was apprehensive. But MU staff and faculty gave him the support he needed. “Being able to talk to someone or email someone and have them answer your questions makes you think, ‘Gee, I can really do this,’” Scanlan said.

In his master’s project, Scanlan examined how digital media can boost or hinder narrative. His research focused on long-form digital storytelling best embodied by The New York Times’ story “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” by John Branch.

Scanlan dedicated the project to his MU mentor. “McDougall wanted you to give your all to the profession because he thought that’s what it would take to be successful.”

McDougall’s passion continues to influence and inspire new generations of MU journalism students, Scanlan said. “It’s still there, whether you get it online or on campus.”

Upon the recommendation of his master’s committee, Scanlan wants to turn his master’s project into a university course in visual narrative.

If you’re a working journalist and want to update your knowledge while expanding your professional network, consider an online degree from the University of Missouri. Earn your master’s in health communication, interactive media, strategic communication or media management.

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Photography by Kyle Spradley

The University of Missouri has pushed the frontiers of research and scholarship for nearly two centuries. Faculty inventors and creators — including online educators — share discoveries with students and link Missouri industry, agriculture, emerging businesses and innovative ideas.

One such effort involving distance-learning faculty is the biomass boiler at MU’s power plant. The 100 percent biomass-fueled boiler went on line in 2013, joining an older, conventional plant in generating heat and power for the MU campus. Up to 40 percent of the plant’s total fuel is expected to come from sustainably sourced biomass.

In expanding their use of renewable fuels, power plant staff sought the assistance of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to help develop sustainable biomass resources.

Researchers in the college and at the MU Center for Agroforestry established research plots to test various species of trees as energy crops, while developing guidelines to protect the sustainability and health of the forests.

Read the full story here: Wood chips and CAFNR

Many of the researchers working on the MU power plant biofuel project also teach courses in the online master's degree program in agroforestry.

The first such degree program in the nation, the online master’s in agroforestry prepares professionals to advise landowners on how to diversify farm income; improve soil, water and air quality; sequester carbon; and increase biodiversity.

If you want to work with industry-leading researchers and broaden your career opportunities in forestry, agriculture or resource management, explore MU’s 100-percent online master’s in agroforestry.

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When you enroll in a distance learning program or course from the University of Missouri, you gain the opportunity to study under some of the best scholars in your chosen field.

Two such academic leaders from MU’s College of Engineering recently were elected fellows by the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 2015.

Dong Xu and Yuwen Zhang were among 347 fellows in this year’s class.

Yuwen Zhang

The AAAS selects fellows for their contributions in 24 different disciplines. Zhang was selected for engineering, while Xu was selected in the biological sciences category for his work in the bioinformatics field.

Read more about the fellowship here: Two professors earn prestigious fellowships from AAAS

At Mizzou, Zhang chairs the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, one of six departments contributing to MU’s online graduate certificate in energy efficiency.

Energy management is an important concern nationally. From natural resource extraction to automobile manufacturing to home building, the challenge is to use our resources efficiently.

MU’s online graduate certificate in energy efficiency helps engineers create and implement energy-efficient technology, advocate for the use of sustainable practices and craft sustainability plans.

If you want to advance your career in engineering, manufacturing, design, construction, energy policy or energy management, you owe it to yourself to look into this 100-percent online program from MU.

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A study by researchers at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing (SSON) may help make nursing homes safer for elderly residents.

Associate Professor Amy Vogelsmeier led a team that investigated the role of nurses in identifying medication errors that could pose safety risks to nursing home residents.

Nearly 66 percent of all adverse events experienced by nursing home residents, such as falls, delirium and hallucinations, could be prevented, in part, by monitoring medication more closely.

“Nursing home work is hard,” Vogelsmeier said. “The ability to manage patients’ care and keep them stable is a clinical challenge that requires highly educated, clinically savvy nurses.”

Read more about the study here: RNs more likely to identify high-risk medication discrepancies.

Vogelsmeier is the John A. Hartford Foundation Claire M. Fagin Fellow at SSON, where she also coordinates the nursing leadership and health care systems area of study.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the SSON online program as a Top 50 program for graduate education in 2015. calls SSON the best nursing school program in the nation in terms of affordability, academic quality, accessibility and board exam pass rates. ranks MU’s online nursing master's programs as "Best Buys."

Want to advance your career in nursing and learn from acclaimed researchers like Vogelsmeier? Join us online Jan. 14 for a live presentation on the Sinclair School of Nursing's DNP program. Program director Dr. Robin Harris will share information on the curriculum and answer your questions. Register today!

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Integral to the mission of the University of Missouri is a commitment to public service — the obligation to produce and disseminate knowledge that will improve the quality of life in the state, the nation and the world.

This weekend MU will host commencement exercises to celebrate a diverse group of graduates who have taken up that challenge. Among them are more than 300 scholars who are receiving degrees they earned online, often while working full time.

Carlos Blanco is one of them. A veteran educator, he holds a PhD in reading and critical thinking and a master's in higher education, both from the University of Arizona. He currently chairs the English and reading program at St. Louis Community College, where he has taught for 17 years.

Blanco's latest achievement is an educational specialist degree in educational, school and counseling psychology with an emphasis in mental health practices in schools. He earned the degree online through the MU College of Education.

"I believe I have the duty to seek out experiences that will help me develop my skills in the service of students, specifically with respect to the understanding of positive mental well-being practices for students," Blanco said.

Blanco wanted to continue his professional development with a distance-learning program that would allow him to continue working full time.

"I chose MU because of its affordability, and because the campus is in close proximity to my home," Blanco said. "This has permitted me to visit the campus multiple times to conduct school business and likewise meet with various professors throughout my studies.

"Educators need to foster positive mental health in classrooms, in addition to encouraging students' academic skills preparation," he said.

Blanco says his course work, particularly his 12 credit hours in multicultural education, will help both him and his students.

"My campus is diverse, representing varied underrepresented groups, including the LGBT community, diverse religious groups, etc.," Blanco said. "It is imperative that I continue to develop my knowledge and skills related to the teaching of diverse groups and their unique circumstances."

For Blanco, studying online offered not only convenience but also interaction between peers and instructors. "An important factor is the requirement for students to engage with one another through discussion boards, which are part of every course," he said.

Blanco recommends the program to other educators and emphasizes that the multicultural education graduate certificate would also benefit professionals in counseling and human services.

"I trust this degree will contribute to my students' positive mental health, and to my professional development as teacher," he said.

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Fall 2015 commencement is this weekend (Dec 18–19). Among the hundreds of successful graduates who will receive their diplomas are 394 distance students who have earned their degrees through online courses.

"Members of the online class of 2015 come from all over the United States and as far away as Australia, the Czech Republic and Korea," said Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director.

The graduates range in age from 22 to 73. Most of them have completed post-graduate degrees; 320 are receiving doctorates, educational specialist or master's degrees.

"These students have demonstrated tremendous persistence and effort. Many of them completed their courses while simultaneously working full time and taking care of their families. And that's no mean feat," Siegenthaler said. "All of Mizzou — students, staff and faculty — have reason to be proud of their scholarship and stamina."

As a tribute to these students, Mizzou Online has created a commencement website where graduates can share photos and friends and family can write congratulatory notes in the online guest book.

Much like the on-campus commencement exercises taking place this weekend, the online commencement includes video remarks from Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain and student speaker Carlos Blanco (EdSp).

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

Congratulate a graduate today by posting in the guest book!

For the seventh-consecutive year, the University of Missouri has received the Military Friendly School® title from Victory Media. The designation is awarded to the top institutions in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students and dedicate resources to ensure veterans’ success both in the classroom and after graduation.

“Mizzou has given me the peace of mind to go back to school while working full time,” said Heath McGill, a student from Sikeston, Missouri, who is pursuing his undergraduate degree online. “Being a military veteran and married with two kids at home, it has been a smooth transition to the online classroom without the stress of a traditional college environment.”

The bond between MU and the military dates back to 1890 when the university named its athletic programs in honor of the Tigers, a local militia that defended Columbia from rebel assaults during the Civil War. Mizzou continues to honor that bond today with benefits such as the MU Veterans Center, which has helped military personnel and their families transition between service and academia since its founding in 2008. At the start of the fall 2015 semester, Mizzou had more than 358 veterans enrolled. In addition, the MU Veterans Center serves dependents of veterans, taking the total number of students served by the Veterans Center to 837. The campus is also home to the Mizzou Student Veterans Association.

“We are extremely proud to receive this honor again because it acknowledges the University of Missouri’s continuing commitment to providing a friendly and supportive campus environment that allows veterans, active military and family members to realize their higher education goals,” said Robert Ross, director of the MU Veterans Center. “The staff and student workers at our full-service, one-stop resource center are dedicated to supporting veterans from their transition to college through graduation.”

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

“Through distance learning, military women and men earn nationally respected academic credentials and enjoy the flexibility they need to balance their education with other commitments,” said Kim Siegenthaler, director of Mizzou Online. “Academic quality is baked in. All our online courses, certificate and degree programs are taught by the same faculty—many of them award-winning leaders in their fields—who teach on campus.”

In addition to flexibility and academic quality, MU offers considerable value. In 2015, the university began offering a 10 percent tuition award to veterans and their families toward online degree programs.

“The Mizzou Online Military Tuition Award is just one more way MU honors veterans, active duty service members, National Guard, reservists and their families for their service to our country,” Siegenthaler said.

The Military Friendly Schools® designation provides service members and their families with transparent, data-driven ratings about post-military education and career opportunities.

“Post-secondary institutions earning the 2016 Military Friendly Schools® award have exceptionally strong programs for transitioning service members and spouses,” said Daniel Nichols, chief product officer of Victory Media and a Navy Reserve veteran. “Our Military Friendly Schools® are truly aligning their military programs and services with employers to help students translate military experience, skills and training into successful careers after graduation.”

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.

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When you choose to study online with the University of Missouri, you get more than just a degree. You also learn from scholars and industry experts who serve our citizens by making contributions to state and national policy.

Take Barton Wechsler, dean of MU’s Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs, who was recently elected to the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).

The U.S. Congress created NAPA to help public sector leaders meet the important and varied management challenges of today and anticipate those of the future.

Wechsler joins more than 700 other trusted and experienced NAPA fellows in improving the quality, performance and accountability of government.

In addition to serving as dean of the Truman School, Wechsler teaches graduate courses in public management, including strategic planning and performance measurement, organization dynamics and leadership, and social innovation.

Wechsler’s research on public management has been published in Public Administration Review, Administration and Society, Journal of the American Planning Association, Public Productivity and Management Review, Review of Public Personnel Administration, other academic and practitioner journals, and numerous edited books. He serves on the editorial board of Public Productivity and Management Review.

Want to advance your career in public affairs with an online degree from the Truman School? Speak to a Mizzou Online recruitment adviser today. Call us at 1-800-609-3727 or send an email to

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