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Brenau to offer doctorates

GAINESVILLE — Brenau University is preparing to launch a doctor of nursing program in August and at least two other doctorates as early as 2012.

The Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approved Brenau’s application to become a Level V doctoral degree-granting institution on Nov. 22 and officially published notice of that action Wednesday.

Brenau will post applications and detailed information for prospective applicants on Jan. 15, said Christina White, dean of graduate admissions at Brenau. Following informational sessions in January, February and March, the university will admit students for the first class between March and May in time for coursework to begin in August.

“This is a significant step toward the fulfillment of the Brenau 2025 Strategic Plan and its goal to develop and implement a wide array of socially responsible, professional graduate programs, including doctorates in a number of fields,” Brenau University President Ed Schrader said. “The SACS action represents a broader recognition of the university’s expertise and its ability to deliver on those goals.”

Gale Starich, dean of both the Sidney O. Smith Jr. Graduate School and the College of Health Science, said the university will notify the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Georgia Board of Nursing of its intentions to offer the advanced degree. She said Brenau will begin the doctoral program by admitting 12 to 15 students for the fall term and build up to about 25 new admissions a year by fall 2015.

“We will probably limit the class size to about 25 unless there is an inordinate demand for more seats,” she said.

Prior to this week’s action, SACS classified Brenau as a Level IV institution, which meant it could offer only masters and education specialist degrees. The Level V classification permits the university to offer three doctorates; more than that requires an application to the highest SACS classification, Level VI.

Brenau plans to round out its Level V field with a Ph.D. in adult education in 2012 and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy by 2013.

Technically, Brenau already offers one “terminal” degree — the highest degree attainable in an academic discipline or profession. In the fall the university seated its first class for a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design. The clinical doctorate in nursing, however, will be the first doctorate. The advanced nursing degree program, which comprises seven semesters, focuses on practical, but high-level, applications of the nursing disciplines.

“It is about developing nursing leadership for positions at the decision-making table as we work on health care reform in our country,” Starich said. “It focuses on the advanced clinical aspects of nursing rather than the purely academic doctorate in the field.”