Title

Hybrid Degree Programs

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date

6-7-2012

Campus Unit

College of Business & Public Administration

Abstract

The College of Business and Public Administration has contributed greatly to the success of online degree programs at the University of North Dakota. The CoBPA offers three graduate degree programs in a hybrid format, consisting of the Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Administration and Master of Science in Applied Economics. Currently, about 63 students in the MBA program are at a distance; the MPA and MSAE programs have approximately 45 students and 40 students enrolled in hybrid courses, respectively. Each program has grown since implementing the hybrid format.

The hybrid format is unique in that local students attend courses on-site at UND while students at a distance are essentially "in the classroom" from any location via Adobe Connect. With the use of this technology and students' required equipment, the delivery of the program to distance students is synchronized with that of local students. Local students can see and hear distance students, allowing class discussions to take place. In addition, distance students can be placed into virtual break-out rooms for smaller group discussions. However, online education can still create problems when encouraging interaction between online and on-campus students. However, Cullen Goenner, Ph.D., MSAE program director, says that this challenge is "an important part of the learning process."

Jason Jensen, Ph.D., director of the MPA program, explained many of the advantages of the hybrid format. "The benefits that we have realized since making the transition have included a great expansion of the number of distance students in our program as well as an overall increase in the admissions selectivity of the program," says Jensen. The overall quality of students, as measured by entrance exam scores and undergraduate GPAs, has improved. Another distinctive advantage of the CoBPA's hybrid graduate programs is the greater diversification of students. "We are also better able to serve the state of North Dakota because our program is now available throughout the state, rather than just in Grand Forks and Bismarck," says Jensen.

The MSAE program has also seen substantial growth. "There are only a small number of Masters programs in economics available online, which creates a large demand for our program by online students," says Goenner. In the fall of 2010, 40 of the program's 49 students were enrolled as distance students.

Recently, an MBA degree was awarded to the first graduate who has never visited the UND campus. Timothy O'Keefe, Ph.D., director of the MBA program, says that the student delivered her pre-graduation presentation to faculty from Columbia, South America. Along with the increased diversity, "our hybrid students tend to be a little older or have more work experience than our on-campus students, and consequently, they add positively to the educational environment," adds O'Keefe.

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