Claflin University is planning this year to launch a graduate nursing program and a climate change focus for its graduate biotechnology program.

The university also intends to introduce a graduate and undergraduate certificate program in a new center for artificial intelligence, according to university Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Karl Wright.

Nursing students attending Claflin will be able to receive a master of science in nursing in fall 2020 as the university introduces the program into its degree portfolio, Wright told those gathered for the quarterly meeting of The One Orangeburg County Initiative.

“There is a great need for graduate-level nurses in South Carolina,” Wright said, citing a university-commissioned research study. “They will help meet the nursing needs in the rural communities that are underserved by the health care profession.”

Wright said the program still needs to receive accrediting approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which the university will hear from in June. If the program is OK’d, Claflin will be the only historically black college or university in the state to have a graduate nursing program. Less than a handful private colleges offer such a program.

Wright said the degree would have two tracks — nurse practitioner and nurse educator.

The graduate degree in nursing would follow on the heels of the university’s launch of a bachelor of science in nursing in 2016.

Claflin is the only HBCU in the state offering a BSN degree.

Since the program’s inception, 52 graduates have completed the 100%-online program.

Claflin’s RN to BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Board of Commissioners, meaning that the nursing program consistently demonstrates quality in mission and governance, institutional commitment and resources, and curriculum and teaching-learning practices.

The program was also awarded Best Nursing Program at the 2019 HBCU Awards ceremony this past August.

The university is also planning to re-engineer its master of science in biotechnology and turn it into an online delivery format focusing on climate change. The climate change track would include such courses as bio-mathematics, Wright said.

The track most likely will be unveiled after the 2020-21 academic year. Read more via Index Journal.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD. This article originally ran on thetandd.com.