Virginia plans online nursing degree program

(Richmond Times Dispatch) Virginia nursing students can earn a bachelor’s degree in three years under an agreement announced today with a nonprofit online university.

The guaranteed admission agreement between the Virginia Community College System and Western Governors University will take effect this academic year and will keep the total cost of the degree to an estimated $17,000 in tuition and fees.

Western Governors University was created by 19 governors to expand access to higher education through online degree programs. A private institution, WGU opened in 1999 and now enrolls more than 34,000 students from all states.

The agreement with VCCS requires students to earn their associate’s degree in nursing from one of the state’s 23 community colleges.

To be accepted into the university program, students also must have a license to practice as a registered nurse and be working as a registered nurse.

They would then complete nine additional courses, for a total of 26 credit hours, through WGU online classes to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois said the agreement could be a blueprint for offering similar baccalaureate opportunities in other high-demand fields, such as information technology, business and other health-related programs.

Secretary of Education Laura Fornash said the program offers “a tremendous value for students and future health care professionals.”

VCCS has more than 30 statewide guaranteed admissions agreements with public and private universities, but this is the first agreement created with a goal of keeping the total cost of tuition and fees for a bachelor’s degree to less than $20,000, state education officials said.

Information on the VCCS transfer agreements can be found at the Virginia Education Wizard website,