Missouri Online to expand educational access for students across the state and beyond

Missouri Online

UMSL alumna Lila Kertz, who completed her DNP in 2020, is featured is an informational video for Missouri Online, the University of Missouri System’s new unified resource and administrative structure to support online certificate and degree programs at all four UM System universities. (Screenshots)

Lila Kertz remembers what it was like more than two decades ago trying to complete her master’s degree in nursing while also working full-time.

She’d finish an overnight shift at the hospital early each Wednesday, make her way home hoping to sleep three or four hours before she had to drive to the University of Missouri–St. Louis campus for a full day of classes.

It takes a toll.

Missouri OnlineMissouri Online aims to make things a little easier for busy students across the state and beyond. The University of Missouri System launched the new unified resource and administrative structure on Tuesday to support online certificate and degree programs at all four UM System universities.

The Curators of the University of Missouri as well as University of Missouri President Mun Choi have made it a strategic priority to expand the online education enterprise and upgrade learning technologies to help more Missourians and others achieve the dream of earning a college degree and further their success in the workforce.

“Together with the Board of Curators, I set a goal three years ago for the UM System to become the premier eLearning provider in Missouri and beyond,” Choi said in a statement announcing the launch of Missouri Online. “As an accredited, highly ranked four-campus university system that spans the geography of the state, we are best poised to provide programs for students that improve the economic and social vitality of the region.”

The new one-stop resource allows prospective students to view the online offerings of all four universities on a single website. The combined catalogs total more than 260 online degree and certificate programs, with 22 additional programs coming online in 2021.

“Having the option to do online will certainly allow so many more people the ability to receive higher education,” Kertz said in an informational video about Missouri Online that premiered during Tuesday’s virtual launch event.

Mary Edwin

Mary Edwin, an assistant professor in UMSL’s College of Education, speaks about the need to create a rich learning environment for online students in an informational video about Missouri Online.

UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik was among the featured speakers during that event.

“The entire University of Missouri System has been working diligently to bring the collective firepower, the quality and quantity of our portfolio of online offerings to bear for the citizens of Missouri,” Sobolik said. “We are focused on the success of countless students and families across the state, nation and world who will gain access to our high quality and affordable online degrees, no doubt leading to meaningful careers and lifelong accomplishments.”

UMSL is a central partner in this collaboration and has long been lauded for the strength of its online programs, with U.S. News and World Report ranking it 42nd nationally on its 2021 list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

“This excellence did not come by accident,” Sobolik said. “It came from long-term, focused efforts and investments to develop core strengths in the areas of online learning, teaching and instructional design to create effective and engaging online courses and degrees to meet the needs of students.”

Sobolik praised the expertise of UMSL’s Center for Teaching and Learning, who have long worked hand-in-hand with faculty to build high quality online courses and programs. She noted that many of the CTL staff members have transitioned to the UM System Office of eLearning to help develop Missouri Online.

They’re helping ensure students will get a rich learning experience outside the physical classroom.

“The faculty has to be intentional about helping students foster that space, whether it’s telling them to talk, group environments, group activities, doing things where they’re showing their faces, they’re talking to each other, so they start to know who each other is,” said UMSL Assistant Professor of Education Mary Edwin, who was also featured in the informational video. “I think that helps to foster that community.”

Missouri Online will offer high-quality degrees at every level, so not only will it make it easier for the thousands of students across the state who started college but didn’t finish to go back and earn their bachelor’s degrees, but it will also provide opportunities for others to expand their knowledge and skills with advanced degrees.

“Missouri Online will provide the type of resource working adults need to continue their education and move our economy forward,” Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan said. “Easier access to online programs will empower Missourians to complete the degrees they once started, or start a new career they previously thought was unachievable.”

Kertz took advantage of the flexibility of online courses offered in UMSL’s DNP program as she earned her second UMSL degree last year.

“It’s extremely important to be involved in education,” she said. “When seeing patients, I’m educating. That’s part of my job. So to understand how to do it, how to do it efficiently, how to do it effectively, how to be able to talk to people, listen to people and make decisions together is huge. I had the foundation of how to do that, but this new degree really affirmed and taught me a little more about doing that.”

To learn more about Missouri Online, visit here or watch the video below.



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