23 Nov 2011
MBA graduates are known to be intelligent, focused, and hard-working, but completing the degree can be a challenge. As managers progress through their careers in a workplace that demands long work days, extensive travel, and weekend hours, how can they accommodate a class schedule that requires them to be in a particular classroom at specific times each week for as many as sixteen weeks at a time?
How can executives complete MBA degrees when they have highly irregular hours and their employers require living in different locations for extended periods of time? Online education offers an opportunity for these business leaders to complete their MBA degrees from widely varying locations, and accommodating busy work schedules.
What is a “good” online MBA programme?
Choosing an MBA, whether online or face-to-face, takes time and research. What questions should potential MBA students ask? How can programmes be compared? What does a “good” MBA programme look like? The most important question to ask when evaluating online MBA programmes would be about the quality of the faculty. What are their qualifications? Are they part-time faculty hired at low salaries with little connection to the college? Are they capable of using the latest technology, enhancing their delivery of course material with video lectures, discussion forums, and practical exercises?
At the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, all faculty in the MBA programme are qualified with doctoral degrees and continuous, current research in their fields. All online faculty are full-time, regular faculty who teach the same courses in the classrooms on campus as well as online. Faculty teaching internet-based classes complete training related to best practices in online learning. They record lectures with accompanying slides in a studio and stream those lectures to students anywhere in the world, at any time of day. Outside evaluators review all online courses, assuring that stated course objectives are carried out with appropriate assignments and evaluations.
Experience in online teaching
Another consideration for evaluating online learning opportunities would be the length of time that a university has offered classes online. Many schools are seeing internet-based learning as a component of their MBA degrees, but they have minimal experience and little knowledge of the time and technical expertise required to deliver the classes. Beginning in 1998, the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater offered busy executives the opportunity to complete their MBA degrees in an online format. These 13 years of experience provide a rich background with extensive study in best practices and a full understanding of the technology needed to deliver the best class experiences.
Price, of course, is another criterion. Executive MBA (EMBA) degrees often charge exorbitant amounts of money to participate in weekend on-location programmes taught by adjunct faculty. Some of the EMBA degrees top out at over $100,000 US. UW-Whitewater’s online MBA currently costs about $22,000 US for a full MBA curriculum.
Accreditation is another means of verifying the quality of a specific degree. EQUIS accreditation is well-known in Europe, and for international accreditation, AACSB (the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business International) is a premier standard. Only five percent of business schools are accredited by AACSB International. The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater’s College of Business and Economics has been accredited since 1974. AACSB International visiting teams regularly measure a number of criteria including standards for faculty qualifications, for curriculum, for financial stability, for admissions, and for measurement of student learning, assuring students that a broad range of criteria have been evaluated.
And then there is the question of whether the curriculum is “general” or includes emphases as well as core functional areas. Most MBA degrees include coverage of the basic business functions such as finance, accounting, marketing, and management. UW-Whitewater’s degree includes those core areas of study but then allows students to delve into additional areas of study in order to develop expertise in one or more emphasis areas. Emphases can include finance, international business, management, marketing, or operations and supply chain management, among others. Giving students the opportunity to develop within a field can add career marketability.
Fully online degrees have the advantage of being truly global. Students from every region of the world can participate, whether the student is a supply chain expert on the Congo River, a medical doctor in Russia, a teacher in Thailand, or a pilot in Germany. The opportunity to share experiences and work in international teams lends a rich experience not generally available in land-based classrooms.
Taking advantage of international student diversity is a standard for faculty teaching at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. One marketing MBA class pairs teams of students from Whitewater classes with teams from Cologne University of Applied Sciences. Cross-national teams of students from the two graduate programmes work together to create reports assessing the potential for specific exports from third-world countries to the US and/or German markets. The highest quality reports are submitted to the United Nations International Trade Center in Geneva for possible publication as Market Briefs, giving students the opportunity to work closely across borders and to work with yet another developing nation making real differences in business success.
These evaluative criteria: the quality of the faculty, the length of expertise in online teaching, the price, accreditation, the curriculum, and incorporation of global projects, are some of the most important aspects that potential MBA students should consider as they make decisions about which degree offering to choose.
The college’s long history in online education complemented by a bricks-and- mortar historic campus underlines that the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater MBA is a “real” degree. The college has developed an award-winning remote learning MBA degree that maintains high quality while delivering flexibility to students around the globe. The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater’s MBA degree has earned accolades from GetEducated.com and the Princeton Review. Furthermore, UW-Whitewater business college has been designated as a Military Friendly school. Recognition from European CEO for remote learning in North America is an honour we value highly.
For more information visit University of Wisconsin – Whitewater’s Online MBA website at: www.uww.edu/cobe/onlineMBA