The GW School of Business is developing an online master’s of business administration to boost enrollment in the school.
The new curriculum will allow for greater customization beyond subjects already offered by the five established MBA programs.
“It’s going for a broader audience,” Liesl Riddle, the associate dean of MBA programs, said. “It will be an online MBA program that will be for various, different kinds of focus.”
The school is devising courses for the new program, scheduled to launch in 2012. A task force of business school faculty with expertise in online education formed last year to review the programs already in place and to provide recommendations to the dean.
Murat Tarimcilar, vice dean for programs and education in the business school, said the University of North Carolina’s decision to start on online MBA program this year “changed the game plan for everyone.”
The MBA@UNC program – created in a partnership with online higher education facilitator 2tor, Inc. – makes UNC one of the first major business schools in the country to offer an online program for MBAs.
“We had the strategy of saying we’re going to be ready whenever the technology and methodology is there, we’re going to move in,” Tarimcilar said.
He said GW’s graduate programs, which came in at No. 52 in the U.S. News rankings this year, need to make strides to surpass other budding online programs.
“We’re probably all learning from each other. A lot of schools have started within the last year or two, so I guess we’re all trying to get input in accordingly,” Douglas Shackelford, associate dean of the new MBA program at UNC, said.
An August report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that just 29 percent of the general public felt a course taken online has the same educational value as one taken in person. Fifty-one percent of college presidents felt the same.
“Online programs have this kind of stigma around them,” Tarimcilar said, adding that, while several second-tier schools are in the online market, those in the first-tier “never had the courage to step up.”
Riddle said the GW Business School’s initiative is responsive to students who are increasingly pressed on time and have a growing interest in online activities.
“With so many layoffs and pressures to do more with less on the job, many feel they may lose a competitive edge if they must step away from the job for coursework at a fixed time and day in their work week,” Riddle said.