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U.S. News Ranks Emporia State Online Graduate Programs Among Top Kansas Schools

January 12, 2016

Online graduate programs offered by Emporia State University have brought more accolades from U.S. News & World Report, which released its rankings for online programs today. 

Emporia State ranked No. 1 among Kansas colleges and universities for both online graduate education and online non-MBA programs, and No. 3 for online MBA programs.

Nationally, Emporia State ranked No. 30 of 267 schools for its graduate education programs, No. 80 of 130 for non-MBA business programs, and No. 110 of 228 for MBA programs.

Graduate degree programs offered online are popular especially with “place-bound” students who cannot attend on-campus classes because of job or family obligations, or distance, among other reasons.

“Some may never set foot on campus until their graduation,” said Dr. Kathy Ermler, dean of the Graduate School and Distance Education, “but we consider their successes just as important as our residential students.”

Morgan Penner of Hutchinson is just such a student. The 36-year-old juggles a full plate of responsibilities. Already armed with bachelor's and master's degrees in social work, Penner works full-time as a mental health specialist for Reno County Head Start/Early Head Start. She and her husband Matt are parents to daughter Lauren, 10, and son Evan, 5.

Penner enjoyed the flexibility the distance education program gave her. Instead of cutting back on her work hours to handle commuting — which would reduce her paycheck, increase student loans and slice into family time — Penner completed her degree online in six semesters. During that time, she interacted with other students working in educational settings in Kansas and overseas.

“I could hear from teachers already in the classroom,” Penner said of the online discussion boards, “as well as practices in another country related to education.”

She also was able to complete her practicums with mentors and supervisors at Head Start. Penner earned her degree in December 2015 and did come to the Emporia campus for commencement. Now, Penner is ready to set a new career path.

“I really believe in Head Start,” Penner explained. “This degree will help me transition into other positions with Head Start.”

Caleb Edelman, 21, of Wichita knew he was ready to pursue a graduate degree after earning a bachelor's degree in accounting with a minor in management. He works as an accountant at Koch Industries, which offers a tuition reimbursement program.  He was set to enroll in a traditional MBA program when wife Sarah shared exciting news — the couple soon would be parents.

He realized that a full day of work followed by four hours of evening classes would be difficult. With a new baby's sleep schedule factored in, Caleb could be perpetually exhausted. Online courses offered a better option.

“Emporia State was one of the top online programs that I found, and my mom is an Emporia State alum,” Edelman said of his choice.

Like Penner, Edelman appreciated the flexibility of jumping on discussion boards at every opportunity. In fact, during Sarah's early stages of labor, he tucked himself in a corner of the delivery room to access the discussion boards. Once baby Paisley was home from the hospital, he often hopped online while she was awake at night.

“Even if I’m working on classwork from 6 to 10 at night, I can be here next to my wife in the same room,” Edelman said. “It’s great for work-school life-family balance.”

Emporia State offers 11 graduate education programs online — business education through the School of Business; curriculum and instruction; early childhood unified; educational administration; health, physical education and recreation; instructional design and technology; special education; teaching; teaching English as a second language and instructional specialist through The Teachers College; and library science through the School of Library and Information Management.

The School of Business also offers a master’s degree in accountancy and the MBA program. The MBA program, which moved to a fully online program in spring 2014, includes courses in management, marketing, accounting, finance, information systems and strategy.

The master of accountancy, which was launched in spring 2014, prepares students for careers in professional accounting in the areas of government, management and public accounting. It also prepares them for the 150-hour requirement to sit for the certified public accounting exam in Kansas and other states. The School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

For more information about online degree programs at Emporia State, go to

For more information about the rankings, go to




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