- The College of William & Mary will expand its online graduate business degree offerings through the new School of Business Center for Online Learning funded by a longtime supporter's $10 million gift, one of the largest donations the department has ever received.
- The W&M Raymond A. Mason School of Business will offer a wider array of students more access to online graduate-level instruction. The center is the next step in the college's plan established five years ago to offer an MBA online, which started in 2015, and a business analytics master's degree, which launched this summer. Officials say they expect to quadruple online offerings soon.
- W&M has one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios among U.S. institutions, according to college officials, including in its online business school courses. They also say the low ratios help attract prominent faculty members to the online business program, which has an average retention rate of about 90%, above the national average.
The Seattle Times reports that with slumping enrollment, MBA programs are increasingly providing online options, pointing to the growing numbers attending Western Governors University Washington's roughly $8,000-per-year online MBA program, as well as flexible business programs at the University of Washington.
Enrollment has dropped in MBA programs at most universities because students are finding effective, efficient training offered by tech companies like Google and for-profit bootcamps, one expert says. MBA programs also are being diminished by employers' unwillingness to pay the high salaries demanded by graduates with considerable student loan debt, and because more students are questioning the value of an MBA unless it was earned at a top business school.
The University of Pennsylvania announced last month it will offer an online master's degree in its computer and information technology program, which is the first online graduate degree the institution has launched. At about $2,500 each, the online courses will cost $4,000 less than similar brick-and-mortar classes.
Online law school offerings are increasing, too. The American Bar Association in February agreed to let the Syracuse University College of Law offer 66 out of 87 required credits online. At that time, Syracuse was only one of three law schools the ABA had given such approval. Earlier this month, an ABA panel approved a measure that allows law schools to offer one third of all credits online.
Some online degrees are offered because they allow universities to quickly and less expensively fill a niche education need and compete with programs in the private sector. The Georgia Institute of Technology, for instance, is initiating an online master's degree in cybersecurity following successful launches of online graduate-level programs in computer science and analytics. The online cybersecurity degree will cost about $10,000, while the traditional degree earned on campus costs about $20,000 for in-state students and $40,000 for out-of-state enrollees.
Other colleges — particularly some smaller private universities — are offering courses online just to stay open.
Correction: This article has been updated to clarify the nature of the $10 million gift.