The University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium program — an online business administration masters program operated through a partnership among UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Parkside — was ranked among the best in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report.
The UW MBA Consortium ranked ninth out of 302 evaluated programs in the publication’s 2019 rankings for Best Online MBA Program, tying with three other programs: Auburn University (Harbert), Pennsylvania State University-World Campus and the University of Mississippi.
The ranking marks the highest the program has ever received. Last year, the program came in 14th.
Robert Erffmeyer, director of the UW MBA Consortium and a professor of management and marketing at UW-Eau Claire, said ranking within the top 10 in the country is exciting — especially when reflecting on how much the program has grown in the near 20 years since it was launched.
“It’s been rewarding to see how the program’s developed over the years,” Erffmeyer said. “We’re very pleased. I work with a lot of people and it’s nice to see their efforts are paying off.”
The UW MBA Consortium was initially launched, Erffmeyer said, when the four currently collaborating campuses decided working together would be the best way to create a program of this nature, that offers working adults an innovative, flexible way of pursuing a master’s degree.
“It made more sense to work together rather than independently so that we could pool our resources,” Erffmeyer said. “So now we’re able to offer a wider variety of coursework.”
In 2009, nine students graduated from the program. This year, Erffmeyer said more than 75 students will graduate.
Rankings for the U.S. News & World Report list are based on criteria such as faculty credentials and training, services and technologies, student excellence, admissions selectivity and career support services offered to students.
What sets the program apart from others, Erffmeyer said, is the solid reputation the program has built over the years, as well as the flexible nature of the online program.
Flexibility, Erffmeyer said, is extremely important because 99 percent of students in the program are currently working.
“Students like that because it’s accessible wherever they need to do their homework,” he said. “Whether it’s after the kids have gone to bed, at 4 in the morning before work or in the middle of the day — its there.”
The program is also flexible in the courses students can choose to take. Erffmeyer said a little less than half of coursework is composed of electives, which can revolve around topics like health care management or administration to international business.
“Students can really mix and match their elective courses to meet their own particular needs, while the core programming hits all the basics they need,” he said.
Another aspect of the program that’s grown over the years is the technological capabilities, said Jessica Franson, distance learning coordinator with the program.
The program initially consisted of interactive video, but now is fully online and accessible whenever students need — something that didn’t seem possible when the program launched.
“We were really pleased to see the ranking because we put a lot of time and effort into continuous improvement for the program,” Franson said. “So when this ranking came along and we had broken into the top 10 this time it was just really gratifying to see all that work pay off and be recognized.”
The program also ranked fifth in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans list. Erffmeyer credited the program’s flexibility, as well as the UW-Eau Claire Veterans Center to the ranking.
Because UW-Eau Claire is the managing partner of the program, handling administrative aspects of the program since it’s start, students of the consortium are able to utilize the Veterans Center’s resources like any other UW-Eau Claire student.
The program currently has more than 20 veterans enrolled.
“We’re real pleased to be able to service those in the service as much as we can,” Erffmeyer said.