For the third time in its four years of existence, and against stiffer competition, West Virginia University’s online Executive MBA program is ranked among the top 30 in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

The program, offered by the College of Business and Economics, is 25th among 196 online MBA programs in the rankings released Wednesday. The program currently has 210 participants enrolled from 22 different states and Canada.

Other WVU online programs ranked highly by U.S. News were the nursing graduate program, 36th among 133 programs, and graduate education, 86th out of 252 ranked.

“Online programs at WVU are aligned with our academic mission that extends the knowledge of subject matter experts with sound instructional design pedagogy to people across the globe. We’re honored with this recognition of our commitment to online learning,” said Sue Day-Perroots, associate vice president, Academic Innovation.

Jose “Zito” Sartarelli, B&E Milan Puskar Dean, said, “The arena of online academic offerings is a highly competitive, rapidly changing environment. We are very happy that our quality Online Executive MBA program has been ranked 25th this year, and has been ranked in the top 30 for three consecutive years. Our Online Executive MBA is strong and this ranking encourages us to continue building our program.”

Click below to hear the WVUToday radio spot about the executive MBA program.

This year’s rankings saw major universities who had not participated in past rankings, as well as continued high standards of rankings criteria. The MBA rankings are based on five general categories, including student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology.

Sartarelli said one area where WVU had excelled since the inception of the program was that of student engagement, which is the most heavily weighted component in determining the U.S. News rankings.

“We’ve taken a very hands-on approach to student engagement because we wanted to create an environment where there is plenty of opportunity for students to interact with professors and one another,” Sartarelli said. “That’s critical, plain and simple.”

Sartarelli said two other important factors that drive B&E to continually improve its Online Executive MBA program — its accrediting organization and its mission.

“We have been accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) since 1954, and we take that accreditation very seriously,” Sartarelli said. “AACSB accreditation is the gold standard for business schools around the world, and that drives us to raise our own standards and best practices for online learning. And we have found that going the extra mile most certainly pays off. We have certified instructional designers and course evaluations. Students sign an ethics statement, because we believe so strongly in ethics in business and overall. Student engagement also encompasses components such as class size, one-year retention and time to degree, all of which are very important for students.

“The second component is that of our goal to elevate ourselves from a good business school to a great one. Everything we do to improve this program is part of what we do to improve our school and ourselves,” he said.

The true progress of the WVU program, Sartarelli said, is how it helps students in all facets of life.

“The feedback we’re getting is that our graduates are thrilled with the education they’re getting in our Online Executive MBA program. They are substantially helping their careers, they are gaining skills and developing insight they can use the rest of their lives,” said Sartarelli. “Our students tell us the program has helped them become more valuable in their professional lives and better people overall. I believe that should be the goal of any program.”

The Nursing Program jumped to 36th from 65th.

“Our nursing faculty are extremely dedicated to the quality of our online graduate programs,” said Tara Hulsey, PhD, RN, dean and E. Jane Martin Professor , School of Nursing. “This year’s ranking is indicative of the commitment we have to preparing leaders in health care and contributing to the nursing workforce needs of our state and beyond.”

The online M.S.N. program allows advanced practice nurses to specialize in the areas of family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, women’s health nurse practitioner or nursing leadership. Preparation at the master’s level provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate self-direction and effective interactions with other health professionals in promoting and restoring health. The online program was designed so its required credit hours could be completed by nurses in their home communities.



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