Dillard University receives SACSCOC approval to offer graduate education in fall 2023

NEW ORLEANS —The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) announced today that Dillard University has been approved for substantive change to offer graduate education beginning fall 2023. 

The approval will move the University from a Level II degree offering institution to a Level III. The Level III status grants the University the ability to offer graduate courses and confer master’s degrees.

Dillard has plans to commence its graduate program with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). According to Dr. Sharon Hutchinson, dean of the College of Nursing, the college is in the candidacy application process with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), which is the final step on the University’s road to officially offering an MSN. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing (LSBN) is also aware of the University’s intent to offer master level nursing education.

“With the continuous support of the University administration and our collective efforts in continuous development of ourselves and our programs, the right faculty credential mix, and focusing on the needs of our stakeholders, we achieved our goal,” said Hutchinson. “For us, the offering of a graduate degree in nursing is a manifestation of Dillard University’s motto, through faith and strength. We persevered, and received God’s blessing to begin graduate education and the continuation of the legacy of the Dillard nurse, at the next level,” she added.

The application to SACSCOC to request a level change was submitted in early fall 2022. Although faculty and administrators led this effort prior to President Rochelle Ford’s arrival at Dillard, she says she is pleased that their work is being recognized. 

“Nursing at Dillard has a legacy of excellence and Dr. Hutchinson and her colleagues are taking our program to an even better level of excellence and relevance,” Ford said. “Through graduate education in nursing, Dillard is meeting industry and higher education demands for nurses and nurse educators. We have a great opportunity to use this program as a launch pad for other programs to prepare others to be ethical leaders,” Ford added.

The College of Nursing has hit several milestones since its restructuring began in 2017. It celebrated its 80th anniversary this past October. The college is fully approved by LSBN; has continued accreditation with ACEN until 2025; and its 2021 graduates achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the NCLEX-RN. Additionally, the college has expanded its simulation skills labs to include a women’s health/maternal-newborn lab and a community health lab. The maternal newborn lab contains birthing simulators and a newborn section; the community health lab has a dual role for both primary care and home health visits. An article authored by Hutchinson, Dr. Charlotte S. Hurst, senior level coordinator curriculum committee chair, Dr. Sheila C. Haynes, psych-mental health course/sophomore-level coordinator and Falicia McKarry, skills lab coordinator, entitled, “Simulated Learning at Dillard University College of Nursing,” was featured in ACEN’s quarterly newsletter.
Although an MSN will be the first master’s degree offered at Dillard, additional master’s programs are under consideration. “We will evaluate the effectiveness of our first degree. Our faculty are developing several additional proposals for master’s degrees. They will undergo thorough evaluation by faculty, the University’s review/approval process, including our Board of Trustees, and then determinations will be made,” said Mablene Krueger, interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and enrollment management.

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