The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has approved Level II status for Georgia Highlands College, paving the way for the institution to begin offering four-year degrees, according to a GHC media release. GHC had already announced that it planned to begin offering a Bachelor of Science curriculum in nursing in 2013 pending SACS and Georgia Board of Nursing approval. The SACS approval means that GHC can officially offer that degree and others if approved by the Board of Regents and SACS.
The University System of Georgia granted GHC state college status last May, allowing the institution to offer four-year programs for the first time. GHC currently offers an Associate of Science in nursing, which makes students eligible to take the licensure exam to become a registered nurse. The new degree allows R.N.s to complete their B.S.N. Only nurses who have received a license as a registered nurse will be admitted.
About 75 percent of the R.N.s in hospitals within Northwest Georgia are currently at the associate’s level. The GHC program, which will be offered in Rome, will give these professionals an opportunity to upgrade their degrees close to home. Much of the bachelor’s curriculum will be offered online to accommodate working nurses.
GHC’s interim vice president for academic and student affairs Dr. Laura Musselwhite, who serves as the institution’s SACS liaison, says that the approval will create a pathway for Georgia Highlands to investigate future four-year programs to benefit its communities. She states, “The process of a level-change application is complex. SACS is not only approving one program in particular, but baccalaureate status in general. An institution must demonstrate that it is capable of providing all the academic and student services necessary for a four-year degree program.”
Georgia Highlands College currently maintains its nursing program in Rome and Marietta, at WellStar Health System.
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