Thunderbird Ranked Among World's Best for Distance Learning MBA
(GLENDALE, Ariz.) Jan. 23, 2008 — Thunderbird School of Global Management was named one of the top business schools worldwide for distance learning by the Economist Intelligence Unit Jan. 23 in its first ranking of distance learning MBA programs.
Thunderbird’s Global MBA On-Demand landed the No. 7 spot overall, No. 4 for program content and No. 5 for quality of students. Thunderbird was one of only two U.S. schools to make the list.
Now in its third year at Thunderbird, the Global MBA is a 19-month program for working professionals that blends Web-based learning with on-site intensive seminars on the school’s Glendale, Ariz., campus and abroad in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
“Distance learning MBAs are becoming an increasingly important sector of business education, allowing students from around the world to earn degrees from top-quality schools without having to change jobs or move abroad—often at a fraction of the cost of a full-time program. For these very reasons they are also becoming increasingly popular with employers,” the EIU stated in a press announcement.
“The idea that distance-learning programs are in some way the ‘poor relation’ of the MBA, particularly compared with full-time programs, is no longer tenable,” the report said. “Most distance-learning programs have now achieved equal standing with, and have the same academic rigor as, other delivery methods. Because the corporate world has largely embraced them for its own employees, they also accept them as an important qualification for new recruits.”
Thunderbird’s Senior Vice President and Provost Rob Widing, said the school completely agrees with EIU’s observation about the exceptional quality of these programs. “Our own learning outcome assessment program indicates this to be the case at Thunderbird. The high level of satisfaction expressed by our distance learners is equally as good as those who go through our on-campus program.”
Sixty percent of the EIU ranking is based on a survey of distance learning students, with the remaining 40 percent based on quantitative data supplied by schools. The survey has taken into account three basic criteria to judge the schools: program content; the quality of fellow students; and distance-learning elements, including such things as the effectiveness of distance-learning materials.
Because distance learning programs are often studied in isolation, a sense of connection to the school and good virtual learning materials are essential, according to EIU, so those elements were also factored into the rankings survey.
“This is certainly true at Thunderbird,” says Dr. Bert Valencia, vice president for distance learning programs.
“In order to create a strong sense of belonging to the school, Thunderbird emphasizes high faculty and student interaction, collaborative learning and four one-week onsite seminars.