Despite rapidly growing competition and more demanding ranking criteria, West Virginia University's Online Hybrid MBA has been ranked in the top 40 programs in the nation for the fourth consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report.
The program, offered through the College of Business and Economics, has been in existence for a little more than five years and has been highly ranked for four of those years. The 2016 Best Online Programs Rankings were released by U.S. News on January 12, placing WVU at #36.
"Our commitment to the Online Hybrid MBA program is an ongoing process, and I really believe the fruits of our efforts are visible in being ranked in the top 40 for four straight years," said B&E Interim Dean Nancy Mclntyre. "Online education, especially at the graduate level, is very competitive and is changing by the minute. We will digest the rankings information we have received from U.S. News, and will continue to build and improve upon this strong program. Our rankings over the past four years speak volumes."
The program currently has 202 participants enrolled from 24 different states and Canada.
The rankings are based on five general categories, including student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology.
WVU's Online Hybrid MBA was formerly known as the Online Executive MBA. While presented in an online format, the program also includes four residencies — three on the WVU campus in Morgantown and one in Washington, D.C. The Washington Experience is comprised of an agenda that demonstrates where government and business intersect.
McIntyre said the strengths of the program are many, particularly those of quality of faculty and student engagement. Those two categories are among the most heavily weighted components in determining the U.S. News rankings.
"We continue to commit Ph.D.-level faculty to our online MBA program because we believe the quality of instruction is one reason our program graduates have been so successful," said McIntyre. "We have also embraced the opportunity to improve student engagement. Students should have plenty of engagement with their professors and with one another."
B&E also received its five-year accreditation renewal from AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) in 2015. McIntyre worked on reaccreditation requirements and data for WVU's business school for the 2010 and 2015 renewals, and said that designation is important in B&E's makeup.
"We have been accredited by AACSB since 1954, and there's something very special about that," McIntyre said. "When you are part of a distinct group of business schools and you've been singled out because you operate in a manner that's considered to be the gold standard, that's really something. And the students who attend B&E at both the graduate and undergraduate levels know that."
Couple that with a dedication to ethics in business that is so strong that students are required to sign an ethics statement plus a fully committed Center for Career Development that seeks out internship and employment opportunities for MBA students and the program continues to see growth.
"This is a program on the rise and we are a business school on the rise," McIntyre said.