The master’s degree program in accounting in UConn’s School of Business has received accolades for its online programming in the U.S. News and World Report’s first annual rankings of online degree programs.
The magazine, well-known for its annual rankings of undergraduate and graduate programs across the nation, in its latest ranking evaluated business programs in four categories: admissions selectivity, student engagement and accreditation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology, but did not issue an overall ranking. UConn ranked seventh in the admissions area and 17th in student engagement.
U.S. News evaluated a total of 523 online master’s programs in business, education, nursing, engineering, and computer information technology.
“We are very pleased with these rankings, given that this was an inaugural survey,” says Andrew Rosman, executive director of the online master’s degree program in accounting. “In some areas, our best practices, which have been recognized with two awards from the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), are not reflected in the survey. We believe that over time the survey will begin to reflect some of these best practices, which will be to our advantage. For example, the use of live streaming video is a way to improve scores for the Student Services and Technology category. However, we do not use them because they promote passive learning. Rather, we have designed courses to take advantage of the learning environment’s ability to promote active student-centered learning through activities that include simulations and role playing.”
U.S. News based its admissions rankings on the ability of a university’s online program to create an atmosphere where students interact and network with classmates much as businesspeople would interact with each other in the professional world, which makes it important for enrolled students to have strong ambitions.
In the student engagement category, the magazine’s editors contend the most reputable online business programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and are also schools that make it easy to communicate with classmates and instructors, as professionals would in the business world. The UConn business school has been accredited by AACSB since 1958.
Rosman says the school’s rankings should have been better in a number of categories based on its programs and thinks that, with the feedback that will surely come to U.S. News editors in the wake of their inaugural online rankings, the next issue will reflect that.
“For example, the type of training we do for faculty is a one-on-one mentorship process with an instructional designer, which is a best practice but not something we recognized as “training” when completing the survey,” Rosman said. “Rather, we view this as faculty development, and with the publication of the results, we now better understand the intent of the questions on the detailed survey.
“Similarly,” he continued, “with respect to Student Engagement and Accreditation, our faculty often do not hold specific assigned office hours, which is a vestige of face-to-face classroom settings. Instead, our faculty and their teaching assistants monitor their courses seven days per week and respond to students much more frequently than if they held specific set office hours. Because the survey doesn’t take this into account, we were ranked lower than we believe the program should be ranked, because we actually provide more opportunity for student and faculty engagement.”