Tips on Researching Online M.B.A. Programs
By SUE SHELLENBARGER
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
From The Wall Street Journal Online
Question: Now that my oldest child is entering high school, I’m considering earning an M.B.A. through online studies. How can I research and select the best online degree program?
— N.J., Niskayuna, N.Y.
Answer: Several Web sites can help, says Robert Franek, vice president, publishing, for the Princeton Review, New York. First, www.GetEducated.com offers free rankings of accredited distance-learning M.B.A. programs. Also, www.BusinessWeek.com profiles distance-learning programs, including state-university programs, Mr. Franek says. It’s best to seek out an accredited program. To learn about accreditation, see www.AACSB.edu, the Web site of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; this organization is “the gold standard in online M.B.A. accreditation,” Mr. Franek says. Also, the site of the Council for Higher Education, www.CHEA.org, offers a directory of other accrediting agencies.
As you search, evaluate the competitiveness of different schools’ admissions processes, Mr. Franek advises. More selective programs require a certain GPA, work experience and admissions exams; in contrast, admission to some for-profit programs “may be no more difficult than owning a credit card,” he says. An M.B.A. program should offer at least 10 to 12 courses under accreditation, he says. Also, ask how long it has been established, how many faculty members it has and how much training teachers receive. What are the rates of acceptance and job placement after graduation? Class sizes should be under 22 students. Ask about dropout rates and the availability of an online library, Mr. Franek suggests.
Make sure the program includes opportunities to develop networking skills and to work on group projects, suggests Craig Cornell, director, enrollment solutions, for Nelnet, the Lincoln, Neb., parent of Peterson’s, an educational publishing and information concern. Request a list of alumni to contact. And gauge the responsiveness of officials. “If they can’t find time to talk about the benefits of their M.B.A. program to a potential enrollee, how much time will they have for you once you do enroll?” Mr. Cornell says.
Question: Re your coverage of anti-discrimination protection for working parents: As parents of an autistic child, we’ve had burdens and duties that most parents can’t comprehend, including chronic sleep loss, missing work for frequent therapy sessions, and so on. What protections are there for parents like us?
— M.O., Morristown, N.J.
Answer: Parents in your situation walk a difficult path indeed; many are forced to change jobs or quit work, even though their parenting costs are higher. Two laws offer limited rights and protection, says Gary Phelan, a Stamford, Conn., employment attorney. The Family and Medical Leave Act offers many employees a total of up to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave each year to care for a family member with a serious health condition; assuming a child’s disability would qualify, this law often gives parents some breathing room. For more information, see www.dol.gov and click on “FMLA.”
Also, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s association with a person with a disability. For example, an employer couldn’t refuse to hire or promote a parent with a child with a disability based on the assumption that he or she will miss more time from work than other parents, or will have higher medical costs, Mr. Phelan says.
The ADA stops short of requiring employers to accommodate such parents with changes in schedules or job duties. However, if parents do good work, some are able to negotiate accommodations.
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June 15, 2007