Three Northwestern online degree programs ranked as best in the country


Three Northwestern State University online graduate programs have been ranked as the best in the country by The website ranked NSU’s Doctor of Education in Adult Learning and Development, the Master of Science in Nursing nurse practitioner program and the Master of Science in Homeland Security in the top spot.

The 2020 rankings were calculated through a unique scoring system which includes student engagement, potential return on investment and leading third-party evaluations. analyzed schools with comparable programs on a scale of 0 to 100. The methodology uses an algorithm that collects and analyzes multiple rankings into one score to easily compare each university’s degree program. The student-focused comprehensive research guide is based on an assessment of 1,604 accredited colleges and universities. Each program is evaluated based on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment.

The Adult Learning and Leadership Program offers a Doctor of Education degree for students who intend to pursue or advance their careers in the professional practice of adult learning, professional development or post-secondary leadership at the community college level. The comprehensive, 63 semester hour, cohort-based program provides foundation courses in adult learning and organizational leadership, along with coursework targeting each of the two concentration areas:  Community College Leadership and Adult Learning and Workforce Development.  Within the concentration areas, students may pursue specialized areas of interest and study through elective courses and gain practical experience within their own organization or area of interest through an individualized practicum experience.

“The number one ranking as the Intelligent Pick among the top Doctor of Education programs is a reflection of our course and instructor quality, cost and flexibility of career paths available to graduates,” said Associate Professor of Adult Learning and Development Dr. William Morrison, who coordinates the doctoral program. “The program has a broad appeal in that it emphasizes rigorous,  practice-based learning for those who wish to pursue advanced practice careers and leadership roles in the many different venues where adults learn, including community colleges, universities, adult education programs, workforce development programs and corporate training programs.”

The MSN nurse practitioner program prepares the advanced practice registered nurse in the following NP concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PCPNP), Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Across the Lifespan (PMHNP). According to Dr. Pamela S. Simmons, senior director and professor of nursing in the College of Nursing, nurse practitioners can help fill the void of access to primary care, especially in rural communities and underserved areas.  The program is among the producers the largest number of nurse practitioners in the state.

“It takes a team of knowledgeable and creative faculty and staff with a variety of skills working together to provide an environment that supports student learning,” said Simmons. Our team believes in and tries daily to promote our College of Nursing and School of Allied Health values of excellence, respect, caring, teamwork and professionalism.  We want excellent clinicians who can provide excellent care to the citizens of Louisiana and beyond.”

The Master of Science in Homeland Security degree is designed to provide graduates with the capabilities to analyze and understand the emerging challenges of evolving security conditions on the domestic and international stage. From the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to the current National Security Strategy, students gain a distinct appreciation for the complexities of homeland security organizations, leadership, policies, ethics and challenges, through the review of pertinent literature, critical thinking, research and reflective analysis and evaluation. The Master’s Degree in Homeland Security is unique in that it pushes students to develop plausible solutions to the inexorable national, international and transnational, threats currently challenging global security through the innovative delivery of transformative student learning experiences which prepare graduates for life and career success in this ever-growing occupational field.

“It is always a pleasure to see the dedication and hard work of the faculty in our homeland security and criminal justice programs acknowledged,” said Dr. Mark Melder, head of the Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences. “The availability of a superior education coupled with an online format at an affordable price ensures that we continue to accomplish our mission of providing our students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their chosen fields.”

Information on Northwestern State’s online programs is available at