AUGUSTA — Kaplan University will start enrolling students next month for a nursing program set to begin in February, and two information technology degree programs should follow later in 2013.

Kaplan received approval from the State Board of Education this week to offer a bachelor of science degree in nursing and associate and bachelor’s degrees in information technology at its new Augusta campus.

Following approval last week by the Maine State Board of Nursing, the nursing program now needs only to receive accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Kaplan University Maine President Christopher Quinn said he expects that to happen within the next few months, so the school will admit 25 to 30 students for the term beginning Feb. 27.

The private school opened this fall in the Marketplace at Augusta with an initial enrollment of about 125 students. Combined with its campuses in South Portland and Lewiston, Kaplan University’s statewide enrollment is about 1,200.

The IT degrees are offered at its other two campuses, but this is Kaplan’s first nursing program in Maine.

Quinn said there’s a need for higher-level education to prepare nurses for specialized fields. In Maine, eight institutions offer an associate’s degree for registered nurses, but only five have a baccalaureate program.

“We know from our research around nursing that this is the direction nursing is going on the national level and at the state level,” Quinn said.

Quinn said Kaplan’s goal is to admit about 30 nursing students for each of the school’s four to five 10-week terms a year.

He said the information technology programs also will serve a statewide economic need.

“We see reports coming out of state government, out of industry, about the dearth of qualified IT graduates in the state of Maine,” he said. “We think it lines up very well.”

Kaplan has to make additional capital improvements to expand its information technology laboratory space in Augusta, and then officials will decide how many students to accept and when to begin the program, Quinn said.

Approval of the degree programs was recommended by a team of education professionals who reviewed Kaplan’s admissions processes, degree requirements, faculty, student services, policies and facilities.

The group found that Kaplan University Maine has the “organizational, academic and financial resources needed to carry out” the programs, its report states.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

smcmillan@mainetoday.com