A key tenet for success in business is the ability to find opportunity in the midst of crisis.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all classes onto virtual platforms, leadership at the School of Business at Stevens Institute of Technology saw a chance to redefine the online experience for students through stronger engagement — live classes, virtual meetups, and guest speakers and network development.
The results speak for themselves: In its 2021 Best Online Programs rankings, U.S. News & World Report gave the School of Business its highest scores to date, an impressive achievement at a time when more organizations are conducting business virtually.
The School of Business was ranked in the following categories:
- No. 14 in the Online Business (non-MBA) category, an improvement from No. 25 the year before.
- No. 35 in the Online MBA category, rising from No. 40 last year — and remaining No. 1 online MBA in New Jersey for six straight years.
- No. 16 in the new Business Analytics specialty category.
“As a small school that puts a premium on technology, our faculty readily responded to the challenge of how we could make the online experience more meaningful for our students,” said Dean Gregory Prastacos. “Beyond offering all business classes live online, our professors are using technology to foster more engagement, and are using their networks to invite speakers for virtual guest lectures.”
Interaction 'better than it's ever been'
And that increased effort shows, students said. Temitola Kumolu, a distinguished member of the technical team at Verizon, is nearing completion of her online master’s in Business Intelligence & Analytics, but said there has been a noticeable improvement in quality since the pandemic struck — important, she said, at a time when more professionals are working and collaborating remotely.
“It feels like interaction in classes is better than it’s ever been,” Kumolu said. “I’m actually having more interaction with my teammates than before, and I enjoy being able to ask questions during the live sessions.”
For Craig Sem, an associate director in Pfizer’s comparative medicine department, the live class experience of his online MBA ensures that he’s able to apply what he’s learned to his work.
“What I enjoy most about Stevens is the engagement you get with your professors through the live classes,” he said. “Stevens professors bring so much industry experience to each class, and they’re so willing to share their insights with you.”
Notably, it’s the first year Stevens has been recognized as being among the online MBA programs to be ranked among the best in offering a specialty in business analytics. That’s part of an intensive focus by the School of Business to introduce analytics and data into every academic offering, from degree programs and lab investments to guest speakers.
Importance of business analytics
“While we do have programs that offer a deep dive into data science and statistical methods, the reality is that today, every professional needs to be comfortable with analytics — so every course needs to incorporate analytics to some degree,” said Prof. Chihoon Lee, associate dean for the graduate division at the School of Business.
Stevens’ leadership in analytics is getting recognition beyond the online rankings. Alongside AACSB International, the school is leading MaCuDE, a worldwide effort to update business curricula for the digital era; the on-campus MBA is also ranked for its strength in analytics in U.S. News’ Best Graduate Schools rankings.
Rui Ming, who is wrapping up her master’s in Finance online, said the analytical component of her degree helped her impress managers during an internship as a data analyst with transportation firm U.S. Xpress.
“Stevens has done a really good job in terms of balancing — teaching the technology, but not at the expense of core finance skills,” said Ming, an aspiring entrepreneur. “The technology I’m learning is more about how you can get better performance as an investment manager, as opposed to someone who does a lot of programming and coding every day.”