Culverhouse online degree ranked nationallyBy Mackenzie Ross | 04/21/2015 10:46pm
The Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration’s online Bachelor of Business program just received its first national ranking by BestColleges.com as the third best online business program in the country. CW File
Humber, the director of Online Student Services for the C&BA, coordinated the online program since it became official in 2008. Not only has the number of students grown in the past nine years, but the online Bachelor of Business program has higher retention rates than most other online degree programs, she said.
The program has a close to equal number of in-state and out-of-state students, including students from seven different countries. Humber said the age range of participants spans from 19 to 65, and many of them work full time, have families or are not able to physically be on campus.
“I would not be able to continue my education without the program,” said Cecily Deavours, a junior majoring in general business through the online program. “I depend on my income from my career, so leaving temporarily to attend on-campus classes was simply not an option. I am able to enjoy the best of both worlds because of distance learning.”
Because most online students are part-time students, Humber said it takes them a little longer to complete their degree, but even then, the program graduates between 20 to 30 students each semester.
“I use the same exams, discussion questions, examples and lecture materials as I would in a traditional class,” said Eric Williams, a professor of health care management for the C&BA. “The major difference for me in an online class is that I record my lectures.”
While the virtual and traditional classes are very similar, Humber said many on-campus students think the online classes are easier and try to register for those classes. However, online students get preference for online classes because they cannot take classes on campus.
“With over a thousand distance learners that we serve, we can’t just let campus students get into those online classes if we know our distance learners aren’t being served first,” Humber said. “So I have a lot of frustrated [on-campus] students every semester, but I have to tell those that don’t have a good excuse that they can’t do that.”
Once on-campus students transfer to the online program, they cannot return to on-campus classes, but Humber said the program allows students to complete their degree if they have to leave for an extended period of time.
Humber said she is proud of the faculty and staff for all they have done to be named the third best online business program, but she also wants the students to feel proud they graduated from such a successful program. Humber hopes the national attention will attract more students and donors to grow the program.
“While we’re very proud of the award, we’re not going to let it slow us down,” she said. “It gives us the encouragement to say, ‘You’re doing a good job at what you need to do. Now how do we get to number two? How do we get to number one?’”