January 09, 2014

Online MBA program earns recognition

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Although it is just a few years old, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s online MBA program is already earning national acclaim.

U.S. News and World Report this week ranked the program among its “Best Online Graduate Business Programs” at No. 51.  This is the third year the publication has released online education program rankings and the first year SIU’s program has earned a spot.  SIU launched its program in summer 2009.  Rankings were determined following a survey of nearly 1,000 accredited schools that feature 100 percent online course delivery. 

“It is always great to see confirmation that we are on the right track in designing and delivering a non-traditional program format.  Earning a rank that is higher than some elite programs this early in our development is a validation of our efforts,” said Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business.

Cradit said a number of reputable business schools’ programs, including three that top the list, were studied as SIU designed its program and “this tells me that we focused on the right elements.” 

“We never want to focus on rankings purely for the prestige,” he added.  “The usefulness of these rankings is that they tell us how we are performing and where we should focus in ways that are important to our students.  These rankings also tell us who is best of class in each focus area so we can learn from those schools and improve our services.”

Rankings were computed on the basis of a number of weighted factors including student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training and student services and technology.  The greatest weight, 33 percent, was given to student engagement.   Peer reputation and admissions selectivity also each accounted for 20 percent of the score. 

According to the online ranking website, quality business programs “promote participation in courses, allowing students opportunities to readily interact with their instructors and fellow classmates as is practiced with colleagues in professional business settings” and have accessible, responsive instructors that create a rewarding experience for students that encourages them to complete their degrees.  The site also notes that prospective employers often perceive peer reputation and selectivity as indicators of a quality program.

SIU begins a new online MBA cohort each summer and the program takes 23 months to complete.  There are currently 110 online students. 

The program will expand again this summer with a new twist.  The College of Business is partnering with the College of Agricultural Sciences to offer a joint program whereby students can earn their MBA online with a concentration in agricultural economics.  Like the original program, it will be taught completely online, allowing students to advance their careers without interrupting them.

The accolade for the online MBA program is the most recent of numerous notable rankings SIU has earned from U.S. News and World Report.  SIU was ranked No. 174 among “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” the first time the university has earned a spot on this list as well.

In addition, the university is ranked among the top 100 public, national universities and is 177th overall among U.S. institutions according to Sept. 2013 rankings.  In November, U.S. News and World Report ranked SIU 46th on its inaugural “Best National Universities for Veterans” list while the College of Business earned the No. 23 spot on that list.  Numerous other SIU programs have earned recognition as well. 

The Princeton Review also included the College of Business in its 2014 edition of “The Best 295 Business Schools.”  The book does not rank the featured business schools.  Princeton Review named SIU one of the best universities in the Midwest in “2014 Best Colleges:  Region by Region” and recognized SIU in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges:  2013 Edition” as well.