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Online graduate programs within the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the College of Education and Human Development showed dramatic improvement in recently released rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

UD colleges rise in rankings

Photo by Evan Krape

Online master’s degrees in education and business ranked in top 50

Online graduate programs within the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the College of Education and Human Development showed dramatic improvement in recently released rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

Lerner’s Online MBA program ranked No. 26 in the magazine’s 2019 Best Online MBA Programs list, placing UD’s program in the top 10 percent of ranked schools. This is a jump of 46 spots from the program’s 2016 U.S. News & World Report ranking of No. 72.

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) rose 168 places to 46th in the 2019 Best Online Graduate Education Programs rankings, placing it in the top 15 percent out of 311 online graduate education programs nationwide.

Online MBA

Since its establishment in 2013, the UD online master’s in business administration program has grown rapidly in rankings and in enrollment. For the fall 2018 semester, enrollment hit 357 students.

“Our program has seen explosive growth this past year,” said Jack Baroudi, a professor and senior associate dean for academic programs. “The number of students has doubled from the prior year, and the quality of the applicants has been outstanding.”

Lerner Dean Bruce Weber explained that the Online MBA program “has become UD’s largest graduate program by enrollment. It continues to grow and innovate through the efforts of Lerner faculty and our Graduate and Executive Programs office headed by Jack Baroudi.”

“With expanding competition, we have established ourselves in the top decile of accredited programs,” Weber continued, adding that in recent years, publications like U.S. News & World Report have “enhanced their methodologies and expanded the factors considered in their rankings,” making such rankings increasingly credible and useful for prospective students.

The rankings are also significant, Baroudi said, “because they measure the quality of the program by looking at the faculty, students, admission policies, curriculum, student services and the achievements of our graduates. These are all areas to which we pay close attention. Student success is our top priority.”

In this area, the UD Online MBA program focuses on delivering real change in the careers of its graduates. For the class of 2017, for example, 66 percent of students either changed careers or received promotions from the time they started the program to within four months of graduation.

So how does the program deliver results like this? Baroudi said a key factor is that Lerner’s program is accredited by AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

“Most importantly, we are AACSB accredited and our faculty who teach in the program are Ph.D. qualified, with extensive experience in studying contemporary business issues,” Baroudi said. “Many work as consultants and advisers to major corporations. They are constantly updating their courses to reflect the changing needs of business. Our faculty teach in both our on-campus and online programs and work hard to create an engaging learning environment.”

Further, Baroudi added that the program partners each instructor with an instructional designer who is an expert “in how to design and deliver an online course in the most effective and engaging way. We work hard to make certain that our curriculum is preparing our students to be leaders in their chosen fields.”

Online MBA student Jennifer Merrill said that she certainly feels she is being prepared for new challenges. As a mid-career professional, she said that she chose the UD Online MBA to find new approaches to these challenges, and to round out her technical knowledge with stronger business development, management and administration skills.

“The coursework has been challenging and diverse, including accounting, business leadership, finance and corporate governance,” Merrill said. “From team building to managing books, the breadth of fields and topics has been refreshing and rewarding.”

Merrill also said that she appreciates the flexibility of the online course structure, as well as the accessibility of the faculty members.

“The courses and team projects have provided me with new tools to examine and resolve management situations, budget scenarios and invigorate my leadership,” she said. “The online MBA has been an excellent use of my time, resources, and will be an important contributor to my career — and that’s even before graduation.”

Fellow student Krista Burke called her UD Online MBA experience both challenging and rewarding.

“My favorite thing about the UD Online MBA program was the courses that gave me the opportunity to view perspectives from those with diverse backgrounds,” Burke said. “I am a full-time working parent of two children, and the convenience of the online format has also proved invaluable.”

What’s next for the future of the UD Online MBA?

“We are adding more faculty to our programs and increasing the number of concentrations and majors we offer,” Baroudi said. “Our goal is always to make certain that our students are successful, whether this means moving into a more senior role in their current organization or changing careers altogether.”

Education and Human Development

CEHD offers four online master’s degrees in Literacy, Teacher Leadership, Educational Technology, and Exceptional Children and Youth.

“We first started offering online programs in 2013. So in five years we achieved a top 50 ranking,” said Christina Mason Johnston, CEHD assistant dean for graduate services. “That’s outstanding.”

For this ranking, U.S. News ranked schools based on five general categories: student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, expert opinions from high-ranking academic officials, and student excellence. Within these categories, U.S. News accounts for a variety of factors, including graduation rate, class size, time to degree, student indebtedness, support services and teacher preparedness to teach distance learners.

CEHD’s programs scored highly on student services, technology and engagement. These elements are of particular importance to students who are considering an online program. They want to know classes will not just be static lectures, but interactive between faculty and students. This ongoing engagement through multiple digital platforms ensures that students develop specific knowledge and skills that positively impact their careers.

“The online master’s allowed me the freedom and flexibility to balance a busy work schedule with graduate work,” said Jake Zalkind, a physics teacher at Bohemia Manor High School who recently completed the online M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership. “Despite being online, the professors were still in contact with you on a regular basis and made themselves available if you needed to reach out for guidance or advice.

“The way the professors set up their classes is actually pretty conducive to building a sense of community. Some assignments required us to collaborate with each other through discussion posts or by submitting a voice or video recording for our peers to view, and UD provides the tools and resources that allow us to do so.  So even though I am not meeting with my peers every other day and sitting with them in a classroom, I can still talk with them, hear what they have to say and listen to their feedback as I could in a traditional classroom setting.”

Sophia Sadock is an English Language Learner teacher in the Brandywine School District, and she is currently enrolled in online M.Ed. in Literacy.

“So far this program has improved my practice significantly,” Sadock said. “This year, I started working with kindergarten students, and I used numerous strategies I learned in my courses to help these young students develop early literacy skills.”

Enrollment in CEHD’s online graduate programs averages about 100 students with class sizes under 25 students. The graduation rate is 89 percent. Based on data from Join Delaware Schools, a nonprofit supported by the Delaware Department of Education, graduates can recoup their investment in about five years.

“Our outstanding students, faculty and staff continue to demonstrate the kind of leadership, innovation and tenacity that makes this one of the top programs in the nation,” said Chrystalla Mouza, director of UD’s School of Education. “Our students graduate with the knowledge and skills to advance their careers in education and human services and make a lasting impact on society.”

CEHD’s on-campus graduate programs were ranked 34th in the nation in U.S. News’ Best Grad Schools 2018 edition, placing them in the top 14 percent of programs evaluated. Students in CEHD’s graduate programs can earn doctoral or master’s degrees in both the School of Education and Department of Human Development and Family Sciences. CEHD also offers interdisciplinary graduate degrees in collaboration with the business and health sciences.

To learn more about graduate degrees available through the College of Education and Human Development, attend the Online Master’s Virtual Open Houses on March 5 or April 9.

For more information on rankings by U.S. News & World Report, click here.

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