Southeastern Illinois College just inked an agreement with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to offer an accelerated path to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) that would allow students to complete their general education courses at SIC, earning an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, then complete their baccalaureate nursing coursework online through SIUE in as little as one year.

“This is huge for aspiring health professionals in this very lucrative profession,” said SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice. “SIUE administrators were positive, listened to our needs and concerns, and were nimble enough to have real agency for quick change. They were amazing to work with on this project.”

Rice saw more than just a simple agreement, however. He believes, “If higher education doesn’t change from the way it used to work 10 or 20 years ago, some institutions will become extinct.”

He maintains that working together is much better than working apart in terms of higher education collaboration.

“Students need an affordable option to get their BSN, and this is it,” said Executive Dean of Academic Services Gina Sirach, herself a former nursing instructor.

Local students can take classes at SIC for three years and begin a job in their profession while working online to obtain their BSN from SIUE.

“Convenient online options and leveraging the affordability of community colleges like SIC make for a strong option for students to achieve their dreams,” said Sirach.

SIC had the state’s top practical nursing (PN) and registered nursing (RN) programs for the past two years and just learned that 2018 pass rates for licensure exams among SIC nursing grads were 100 percent in 2018. Only four out of 42 RN programs in Illinois received 100 percent pass rates. And of course, SIUE is a national leader in nursing education.

Amy Murphy, Director of Nursing & Allied Health at SIC, said the program will be vigorous as always.

“This is not an easy BSN, but it is a very affordable one that can be done right from here,” said Murphy. “This agreement is a win-win for local students, SIC, SIUE and all of southern Illinois.”

The best option for success is if a student in their sophomore or junior year of high school knows they want to pursue a BSN, SIC advisors can map out a plan for dual credit options, early college options and summer courses to ease the stress of the first year of general education requirements.

That planning could result in a streamlined program where the student can focus the second year on the PN license and then the third year on the RN license and Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) with some coursework online at SIUE before they transfer to complete SIUE’s online RN to BS baccalaureate nursing program.

“The cost of this program can’t be beat. It would be a misuse of taxpayer funds for us to try to secure a BSN on our main campus or in a consortium,” said SIC Board Chairman Dr. Pat York. “We have the most affordable BSN around with this partnership with SIUE. That’s fulfilling our mission for sure.”

In addition to the BSN completion program, through this agreement, SIUE has offered to provide professional development for SIC’s faculty as well as planning for a healthcare and nursing administration track and a nurse educator track for students interested in continuing their education for a master’s degree in nursing. This will assist colleges in the region with securing qualified nursing faculty.

“The partnership between SIC and the SIUE School of Nursing demonstrates a mutual commitment of offering high-quality, affordable and accessible education to students who want to become nurses and advance within their profession,” said Laura Bernaix, PhD, dean of the SIUE School of Nursing. “This partnership will undoubtedly contribute toward ensuring a robust nursing workforce in Southern Illinois.”

“This agreement not only benefits current and future nursing students but our faculty as well by helping them stay current on healthcare trends and allowing them to bring that knowledge back into the classroom,” stated SIC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Karen Weiss. “That is a great benefit for our faculty.”

Nursing program applications for fall 2019 must be submitted by March 31. For more information on nursing and the new accelerated BSN program, contact Amy Murphy, director of nursing, at 618-252-5400, ext. 2331 or Additional information can also be found online at

About SIC
The Southeastern Illinois College nursing program is ranked No. 1 in the state of Illinois. The program began in 1955 with a class of 13 students in the lower level of Harrisburg High School. It was the only program of its kind in Illinois, south of St. Louis, at that time. Since then, it has grown to approximately 100 students each year and includes online and traditional classes.

About SIUE School of Nursing
The SIUE School of Nursing’s programs are committed to creating excellence in nursing leadership through innovative teaching, evidence-based practice, quality research, patient advocacy and community service. Enrolling nearly 1,300 students in its baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs, the School develops leaders in pursuit of shaping the nursing profession and impacting the health care environment. SIUE’s undergraduate nursing programs on the Edwardsville campus and the regional campus in Carbondale help to solve the region’s shortage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses and enhance the quality of nursing practice within all patient service venues. The School’s graduate programs prepare nurses for advanced roles in clinical practice, administration and education.