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Graduate degree goes online

PSU students can now receive an MBA without having to compete for parking spaces. The Portland State eMBA program was recently rated among the nation’s best distance-MBA programs in the Oct. 15 edition of U.S. News and World Report. The magazine surveyed over 2,000 schools, and ranked Portland State in the top 25 for online graduate business programs.

Students that are accepted into the program combine computer and Internet-based technologies with short intensive weekend visits to the campus. Most of the learning involves the Web, CD-Rom, videotape and interactive TV. Distance learning has been going on in Oregon since 1988, although previously it had been almost exclusively videotape based. Participants would watch video recordings of classes and then do the required work. Video has now been almost completely phased out of the curriculum, with the Internet taking its place as the primary carrier of information. This fall marks the first year that PSU has used an almost entirely Internet-based distance learning program.

The students visit the campus four times per academic year, twice during the fall, once during the winter and once during the spring. These on campus sessions usually begin Friday and conclude on Sunday, and include lectures, presentations and group work.

Cost of the eMBA program is similar to that of taking standard graduate classes, approximately $240 per credit hour. Some classes also require a $38 per credit hour charge, which is billed as a distance learning fee. The tuition includes all regular university fees, but not the additional $15 per credit hour SBA resource fee.

The program includes 17 elective credit hours, which are drawn from a pre-selected group of courses covering a wide range of subjects. The electives available are somewhat limited due to the nature of the classes, but students are able to enroll in classes on campus in addition to Internet to fulfill their elective requirement.

The online classes are made possible by a system called WebCT. WebCT is a Web-based course management system that connects the students and professors in an online virtual classroom. To access the program your home computer must be equipped with 56k or faster modem, although broadband is recommended. Your hardware must also have an audio card and speakers, at least 16 MB RAM, and 100MB or more free disk space.

The eMBA administrators caution that this may not be the best choice for students that need one-on-one interaction. It is also recommended that students enrolling in this program be self-motivated, disciplined and efficient with their time. Efficiency with computers is also a good skill for those intending to purse an eMBA degree.

The G.P.A. requirement for the program is 2.75, although it can be lower if students have a minimum 3.0 G.P.A. in at least 12 hours of already completed graduate work. The average undergraduate G.P.A. to the entire MBA program is 3.20.

The current enrollment for the eMBA program totals 32. The application deadline for next year is April 1.

Students interested in pursuing an eMBA degree should contact Tom Luba, the Director of the PSU eMBA program, at 503-725-4822. There was an informational meeting in September, but if you missed it there is another being planned, although the dates have not yet been set. More information on the Portland State eMBA program can be found at