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Student and faculty experience lead to high rankings and reputation

Posted: March 25th, 2024

U.S. News & World Report recently released its annual rankings of top online master’s degree programs in business administration, and once again the University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium finds itself ranked among the top programs in the country.

The program, which includes UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, and UW Oshkosh, was ranked 12th overall for online master’s programs. Additionally, the UW MBA Consortium ranked as the 12th best program in the nation for veterans, and 13th overall for general management programs.

"We're proud to again be recognized among the best programs in the nation, in the top 3.5% of all schools considered for this distinction," says Jessica Franson, UW MBA Consortium managing director.

The U.S. News rankings are based on scores in five core program categories: engagement and accreditation; faculty credentials and training; student services and technology; student excellence; and peer assessment.

A closer look at the individual category scores shows that the UW MBA Consortium received the top ranking in faculty credentials and training, a ranking reflective of the guiding principles that drive the growth and success of their efforts. This score came as no surprise to Dr. Paula Lentz, academic director of the UW MBA Consortium and faculty member for one of the program’s core courses.

"We take great pride that we earned top marks in faculty qualifications," Lentz says. "All our faculty come from distinguished academic and professional backgrounds, creating a rigorous, relevant and contemporary MBA program. We have worked hard to build a community of inquiry and a community of practice among our instructors. Our faculty really are the very best at what they do."

Recently, other organizations also recognized the UW MBA Consortium in their rankings, including Poets&Quants, Fortune, and Princeton Review. So, what makes the UW MBA Consortium stand out? The people and the value proposition.

Seeking out unique personal and professional backgrounds in faculty and students leads to program diversity and quality. Paired with a lower price point than other leading institutions, it equals a prestigious program at an approachable price point.

With a focus on continuous improvement and quality as the underlying foundational building block, the program sees itself as the little engine that could by competing with, and thriving among, nationally known universities offering higher-cost programs. Leveraging the strengths of three universities and their world-class faculty creates a stronger whole.

"The collaborative culture across our partner campuses along with the collective insights of our faculty elevates each student's intellectual journey and experience," says Dr. Frank Braun, Dean of the UW Oshkosh College of Business.

Growing by leaps and bounds in cohort numbers, the program has created a broad network of successful alumni of nearly 1,000 and counting. Representing the program in a wide variety of industries and professions, a few noteworthy alumni have returned as instructors in the program. This means students have instructors who truly understand their journeys and can meet the students where they are.

Boasting an average undergraduate GPA of 3.4 and 10 years of professional experience before starting the program, our students are successful and driven. They seek applied experiences during the program that they can use immediately in their field.

“Since its inception, the UW MBA Consortium program has been a flexible, affordable and high-value option for students, many of whom tell us that they would not have been able to earn their MBA without the flexibility our program provides,” says Franson.

The lower cost is an attractive differentiator among top programs and can be offered without sacrificing quality or flexibility, giving students the best of all worlds. The program is significantly less expensive than other leading competitors, creating quality at a cost-effective price for students.

While the program’s focus on the high-quality general MBA remains central, the program is beginning to add certificate and emphasis pathways to offer students a more personalized experience.

“Our first pathway options in healthcare management launched in Fall 2023, giving students the option of pursuing an MBA with a healthcare management emphasis. For students not ready to pursue a full degree, we also offer a graduate business certificate in health care management that can feed right into a degree once a student is ready to take the next step,” Franson says. “We already have 50 students in the MBA program pursuing the healthcare management emphasis. Given the initial success of these pathway options, we plan to add additional specialized, stackable options to broaden the appeal of our program.”

Dr. Lisa Jepsen, the new dean of the College of Business at UW-Eau Claire, is eager to take an active role in working with the UW MBA Consortium, a program that she says influenced her choice to seek the dean position.

“I look forward to furthering the collaborations in this groundbreaking consortium, which has reached beyond Wisconsin,” Jepsen says. “By design, the online program has made the dream of a master’s degree in business a reality for state, regional, and national graduates. The UW MBA Consortium shows exactly what can happen when leaders seek new ways to meet the needs of students in the evolving landscape of higher education.”

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