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Working professionals. Single parents. Caregivers. Rural residents — in Idaho and halfway around the world.

Boise State University is known for the blue turfed football field, but did you know it is also Idaho’s leader in online healthcare education?

Respiratory Care student holds an oxygen mask to camera
A respiratory care student holds an oxygen mask.

For the past 15 years, Boise State has made its mark in the online education space, starting in 2007 when the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Respiratory Care launched its first online programming. The pioneering respiratory care initiative has evolved to become the largest respiratory program in the country, in person and online. Since then, thousands of healthcare professionals and soon-to-be professionals have taken part and graduated through the college’s 11 fully online programs.

Online education does not mean students are isolated

Boise State’s online health programs are created to help students succeed and make a positive impact on the world through flexible delivery options, varied course lengths and access to student success resources. With few exceptions, students are not required to come to campus. No matter where in the world a student is located, they are part of the larger Bronco family. They interact with other students who are passionate about health through online courses designed to encourage interaction and support for clinical and field placements in the students’ local communities.

Current online Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences student, Nathan Montiel, shared his appreciation for the opportunities to engage with his classmates, faculty and program staff, saying, “You don’t feel disconnected because you’re always checking in. Boise State creates that with group projects and discussions, so you still feel connected.”

Faculty see the online environment as an enriching opportunity for students to network and learn from one another’s experiences.

“The student composite is expansive, and the discussions generated are fascinating,” Scott Chyna, clinical assistant professor of social work, shared. “As one can imagine, providing a social work intervention in New York City is vastly different from providing a social work intervention in Twin Falls, Idaho. If one purpose of education is to introduce experiences outside of one’s own, we accomplish this tenfold in the online program.”

Adilene Ambrez portrait
Adilene Ambrez, first generation student in the online Bachelor of Arts in Public Health program

Regardless of a student’s background or responsibilities they can find success in an online health program at Boise State. Adilene Ambriz, a first generation student in the Bachelor of Arts in Public Health program, appreciated the flexibility of the online program in being able to stay at home with her parents while completing her degree and not having to relocate to the Boise area.

Course participation is flexible and the per-credit fee, the same for in-state and out-of-state students, is affordable, making higher education accessible for those who continue to work and those on budgets. Investing in education is a smart choice for our students and many programs lead to licensure or certification that significantly increase their earning potential.

Priority Number One: Student Success

Student success is, and always has been, the goal of the College of Health Sciences and a commitment that all faculty live by. Online instructors know that the online environment can be challenging, which is why full-time faculty members are dedicated to smart program design and the time it takes to build community within classes and cohorts.

“Strong connections are made, and a lot of that is intentionally built in,” Associate Dean Lutana Haan said. “We have folks who are obviously top in their clinical knowledge, but they are also experts in online education … We’ve really developed quality online educators, and set up programs that are specific to working individuals who want to find a way to flexibly finish degrees.”

Jhaymie Cappiello, a Respiratory Care online bachelor’s degree advancement program professor, blends research and the online educational environment. He brought his recently published article into the classroom with several of the authors, giving students a chance to ask questions. Students reported: “It was amazing to see the content we are learning in the classroom help to transform the practices of actual physicians in real time!”.

Haan and other program designers and instructors have a keen sense of the emerging needs of students in higher education, needs that are very different than they were even 10 years ago.

Master of Social Work alumni Amy Rigenhagen listens to a patient's struggles with addiction
Master of Social Work alumni Amy Rigenhagen listens to a patient’s struggles with addiction at the VA

Online delivery was once considered innovative, but the circumstances of the past few years have reinforced the value of this option. Now more than ever, with complicated lives, stretched budgets and finances, concerns about travel and transportation and for a multitude of other reasons, those in healthcare professions, those looking to make a mid-career jump and those wanting to move into meaningful jobs and careers, all are looking to Boise State and the College of Health Sciences for the knowledge and know-how offered by the college’s caring and highly skilled online instructors.

“The world has changed, and everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on,” Haan said. “They’re juggling multiple priorities that we’re needing to be supportive of. It’s a different lens than the traditional student that we’re used to thinking of.”

High caliber education at students’ fingertips

AGNP students practice suturing during on campus intensive
AGNP students practice suturing during on campus intensive. The AGNP program is one of the few online programs that require an annual trek to campus.

Over time, the programs have earned recognition, rave reviews from graduates — and a reputation for excellence. The college has received more than 13 awards and recognitions in the past two years for its online programs. U.S. News and World Report ranked Boise State’s online undergraduate degrees in the top 15% of ranked schools and the online master’s in nursing program in the top 5%. The Master of Population and Health Systems Management program received a national award for its innovation in education.

The Master of Social Work Online is the largest program at Boise State, bar none, and has received countless recognitions for program affordability, quality and more. The college will celebrate the program’s 1,000th graduate in December 2023. Given the need for mental health providers, and the critical demand for social workers to address the significant ongoing mental health crisis and the many other societal challenges people are facing the world over, Boise State’s program is likely to dominate the field well into the future.

Genetic counselor explains complex topics to a patient using visual aids
Genetic counselor explains complex topics to a patient using visual aids.

Boise State’s Master of Genetic Counseling, the first fully online program in the nation, is another example of meeting workforce demand. Boise State created the program to meet the growing need for genetic counselors and the demand is evident – the number of applicants to the program number ten times the student spots each year.

“These are desirable programs, both from the standpoint of a workforce need and students’ interest in them,” Haan said. “And they’re programs that have a high return on investment. They lead to job growth and new career opportunities.”

Daniel Connaughton is a student pursuing the new online Bachelor of Science in Advanced Medical Imaging and a Certificate in Interventional Radiology and Interventional Cardiology.
Daniel Connaughton is a student pursuing the new online Bachelor of Science in Advanced Medical Imaging and a Certificate in Interventional Radiology and Interventional Cardiology.

Over the years, the COHS online ecosystem has gathered dozens of community and industry partners similarly scattered across states and boundaries, creating a rich and growing network of internships and graduates who go on to become preceptors and instructors for incoming students. This ensures that participants, no matter where they are, can get needed field experiences and meet licensing requirements. Graduates of COHS programs, like Daniel Connaughton an Advanced Medical Imaging student, are attractive candidates to employers who look to Boise State as producing high-quality, industry ready graduates.

The popularity of the programming has also, among other things, been a boon for rural Idaho, Haan said. “It lets us have programs that financially wouldn’t be viable if we only had Idaho students,” she said. “In a lot of ways, we’re able to offer programs to Idaho because of our national reach.

“We really are without boundaries.”

From low-costs, industry experienced and caring faculty to the variety of in-demand programming COHS attracts students from all 50 states, multiple countries and U.S. territories overseas.

To learn more

Interested in one of Boise State’s flexible, affordable online healthcare programs? See our list of online health program options and request information to get started.