In its recently published rankings, U.S. News & World Report has named the UCF College of Nursing among the top 25 “Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs for Veterans” for 2015. The college ranks 23 in the nation and is the highest ranked program in Florida.

UCF has long supported veteran students and has been named a “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs magazine since 2011. The university’s Veterans Academic Resource Center is specifically designed to help veterans achieve academic success by providing a one-stop solution to support their needs during the transition from military to student life.

The College of Nursing has a strategic relationship with the Veterans Affairs medical facilities for clinical rotations. For former U.S. Army flight medic John W. Rothwell, III, BSN, RN, this relationship was one of the primary factors for selecting UCF.

“There are numerous reasons that UCF outshines other  nursing programs, including the high first-time pass rates for RN and ARNP board certification, and the clinical resource coordinator that arranges clinical residences in the community,” said Rothwell, a family nurse practitioner DNP student. “But the strategic relationship with the VA, to me, was critical. As a veteran, there are not only career benefits in performing clinical rotations at the VA, but there is a strong emotional and psychological bond when helping your fellow soldier, marine, seamen or airmen.”

For veterans or active duty military members seeking flexibility to take courses when it’s convenient, the College of Nursing offers numerous distance learning programs with online and hybrid options for both graduate and undergraduate degrees. “The best word to describe my experiences with the online nursing program is ‘simple,’” Rothwell continued. “Faculty also utilize innovative technologies to enhance learning, including digital clinical experiences such as avatars.”

Nurses with a BSN degree or non-nursing baccalaureate may apply for graduate programs, while those with an associate’s degree may apply for an RN to BSN or RN to MSN program. Scholarship opportunities are also available to veterans and active duty military.

“Our nation’s veterans have served our country, and we’re honored to help them continue to serve their communities by advancing their career in nursing,” said Susan Chase, associate dean for graduate affairs. “Even veterans who are nurses but have bachelor’s degrees in other fields may apply to our graduate programs. These students would simply complete a three-course sequence before starting the graduate coursework toward their nursing degree.”

To be considered in the rankings, colleges had to participate in key programs that offer educational benefits to people with military service and be among the top 75 percent of schools in the U.S. News 2015 Best Online Programs rankings. Those rankings, in which the College of Nursing is ranked among the nation’s top 25 for graduate nursing programs, are determined based upon numerous factors, including affordability, faculty credentials, student services and reputation.