UW MBA Consortium's Impact on Recent Graduate
Posted: February 1st, 2023
Dr. Bradley R. Burmeister was still in his residency when he began thinking about pursuing an MBA, recognizing that having a stronger understanding of finance, marketing and accounting would serve him well in his medical career.
His search for a graduate program that "felt right" - one that would provide him with a well-rounded education at a fair cost - eventually led him to the University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium program.
"Since committing to the UW MBA Consortium, I haven't looked back and am very happy with this choice," says Burmeister, an emergency medicine physician in Green Bay who earned his MBA in December 2022 and previously earned a business certificate from the program.
Burmeister and the growing number of other professionals who enroll in the consortium program are choosing well, according to U.S. News & World Report.
In its 2023 rankings, the prestigious publication ranks the UW MBA Consortium, managed by UW-Eau Claire, as the top online master's degree program in business administration in the Upper Midwest and among the best in the nation.
In the newest rankings, the consortium that includes UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse and UW Oshkosh, is ranked ninth in the country. This is the fifth consecutive year and the sixth time overall that the consortium has been among the top 10 online MBA programs in the U.S.
"We are excited to again be included among the best of the best," says Jessica Franson, UW MBA Consortium managing director. "The rankings recognize our impressive graduation rates, phenomenal faculty and our ability to educate professionals wherever they are while also offering the education and support they need to be successful."
The UW MBA Consortium is ranked ninth in the country out of 366 MBA programs, making it among the top 2.5% in the U.S. It also is ranked seventh in U.S. News' Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans.
Of the eight other online MBA programs from Wisconsin included in the rankings, UW-Whitewater and Herzing University are the next closest to the UW MBA Consortium, coming in at the 27th and 169th spots, respectively.
"The UW MBA Consortium - a vibrant, highly successful program - is perhaps the greatest value in online MBAs today," says Dr. Brewer Doran, dean of UW-Eau Claire's College of Business. "It's offered at a highly affordable price, and the teaching and curriculum is outstanding despite limited resources. This program is small and self-funded yet competes with the best-funded and best-known programs across the country."
U.S. News ranked the online MBA programs using five categories: engagement; expert opinion; faculty credentials and training; student excellence; and services and technologies.
The program's national recognition is well earned given its interesting courses and talented faculty, says Burmeister. The "tremendous" amount of knowledge he's gained from his classes is helping him be a better doctor, he says.
"It has changed my perspective and understanding of the world in which we live," Burmeister says. "It has helped me relate better to my patients and has optimized my leadership impact within healthcare. This is a wonderful program with many outstanding faculty from around the UW system."
Among the program's strengths is that every course is "unique" and relevant, Burmeister says. For example, in one course students simulated a new business and had to make decisions as a group to maximize the success of their company while competing with their peers.
"It required skills such as teamwork, group decision making, leadership, business modeling and marketing," Burmeister says. "I think it helped translate well what we were learning to real world applications."
Many MBA students are drawn to the program because of its flexibility and affordability, says Dr. Paula Lentz, UW MBA Consortium academic director. However, once they enroll, they most value the "enthusiastic and highly engaged instructors who provide them with an outstanding learning experience," she says.
Each year, nearly 50 instructors from four different UW System schools teach the 70 courses the program offers. The program's three governing institutions and UW-Parkside, a participating campus, provide instructors.
"We have exceptional instructional designers who partner with faculty, and that partnership ensures each course is designed and delivered according to best practices for online pedagogy," Lentz says. "Each class is creative, responsive and applicable to students' individual academic and professional goals."
The MBA program has experienced significant growth in recent years, expanding by 21% in the past three years. This academic year, nearly 400 students are enrolled, a number that program leaders expect will increase as the program adds capacity. Students from 37 states are currently enrolled. About a third of the students are from Wisconsin, with 50% from the region consisting of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota.
With about 80 students graduating annually, more than 800 students have graduated since degrees were first awarded in 2008.
As the program looks to the future, Franson says directors are excited to develop new pathways for students to focus their MBA experience in different professional areas. For example, the program recently added a health care management specialization option to its MBA degree after receiving funding through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.'s Workforce Innovation Grant program.
"The UW MBA Consortium is a shining example of what can be achieved with collaboration across campuses," Doran says.