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WVU Online Executive MBA: Ranked nationally, recognized by veterans

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Jose Sartarelli Jose Sartarelli
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Jose “Zito” Sartarelli is the Milan Puskar Dean at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. He is a former pharmaceutical industry executive, having worked for three Fortune 500 companies over a 30-year career.

Even though it has been in existence for a little more than three years, the Online Executive MBA program at West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics has received national rankings and recognition for its educational offerings to veterans.

The program was ranked No. 23 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in its 2015 Best Online Programs Rankings, the program’s second consecutive top 30 ranking by the publication; No. 8 by U.S. News & World Report in its Best Online Graduate Business Programs for Veterans listing, the program’s second consecutive top 10 ranking on this list; and No. 12 in the Military Times’ “Best for Vets: Business Schools” list for business schools across the U.S. for the second straight year.

This year’s online Executive MBA program has close to 200 participants enrolled from 19 different states. I believe the program’s growing enrollment and rankings reflect B&E’s commitment to students and continual improvement of the program.

We have improved in some very important areas critical to the quality of our program. For example, student engagement and faculty credentials and training.

Student engagement is critical for a number of reasons. We want to create an environment where there is an abundance of student interaction with professors and other students. We are accredited by (AACSB) the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which is the gold standard for business schools around the world, so it is paramount that we raise our own standards and best practices for online learning. We have certified instructional designers, course evaluations and students sign an ethics statement, which reflects our strong view on the importance of ethics in business and overall. Also related to student engagement are components such as class size, one-year retention and time to degree, all of which are critical for students.

B&E’s Executive MBA is taught primarily by Ph.D.-qualified, full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty. Additionally, WVU invests in training that focuses on online teaching best practices, with technical staff at the business school available to assist faculty in their teaching efforts. The creation of the online Executive MBA program was facilitated by WVU Academic Innovation, formerly WVU Extended Learning. The unit provides the infrastructure and technological support to B&E faculty to advance online teaching.

I also want to note student services and technology, which include efforts such as technical support, financial aid, live tutoring and career placement, among others. We have put resources behind helping our students succeed by doing things such as providing a dedicated advisor that works with our students to assist them with their plan of study and helping them progress toward graduation.

With regard to working with veterans, we are both honored and excited that we continue to be highly ranked in the U.S. News and Military Times listings for veterans programs. Our commitment to offering programs to service members and their families and looking for ways to continually improve those programs is stronger than ever. This goes well beyond our land-grant mission, but also to the commitment we have to the men and women who protect this country.

I want to emphasize that high rankings are great, but schools are held to the expectations of their students. Our graduates are elated with the education they’re getting in our Executive MBA program. They tell us they are enhancing their careers, gaining invaluable education and increasing their upward mobility and earning potential. That’s a pretty good barometer all by itself.