Online MBA program moves down in ranks

From staff reports

The online MBA and executive MBA programs for the WSU College of Business have dropped in national rankings from first to seventh place.

WSU online graduate business programs dropped from first place in 2013 to seventh place this year according to U.S. News & World Report.

“At the time we participated in those (2013) rankings, there were about 120 other schools that participated in those rankings,” said Cheryl Oliver, assistant dean of online and graduate programs. “This year, when we completed the surveys we had over 300 schools and some of those schools already had top-ranked face-to-face. “

Each year U.S. News & World Report changes the way it ranks colleges.

This year the standings changed in how student engagement was ranked, Oliver said. Last year, if a school was entirely online, it was seen as a positive because students didn’t have to come to campus, she said. Oliver said that is no longer the case and now, coming to a physical location is considered beneficial.

“This year you’re scored higher for engagement; the No. 1 school, Indiana, requires students come to campus for a week,” Oliver said. “If a student in Pennsylvania is going to WSU Online and then we say for your program you have to buy a $1,200 plane ticket and spend a week in Pullman, it changes the value proposition for you.”

Another aspect weighed into the methodology of rankings is the universities’ learning management system, Oliver said. Because Angel is an outdated LMS, it negatively impacted the score.

Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business, responded in an email statement.

“… We don’t chase rankings for the sake of rankings; we simply do our best to deliver programs of the highest quality and fulfill our land grant mission of making lives better through education,” Spangenberg said.

John Nofsinger, a finance professor, has participated in online teaching at the business college and believes prospective students rely on different rankings for selecting schools.

“Students will have a whole function of things important to them; prestige level, convenience to juggle professional and family life,” Nofsinger said. “They’re going to get that information from validations.”