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        U.S. News & World Report: Harbert College online graduate programs among nation's best

        January 12, 2016 By Troy Johnson

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        Best Online Schools from US News and World ReportBest Online MBA Programs from US News and World Report

        Smart phones and tablets have changed the way we shop, socialize and conduct business. We count our steps per day, stream our favorite movies, share work files and family photos, rate our experiences with retailers and restaurants, and chat by video with family and friends all over the globe.

        When we’re not Tweeting or Instagramming, we’re making purchases and paying bills. Given the amount of time we spend with portable electronic devices in our hands and our ability to access information anytime and anywhere, it’s only natural that they will become increasingly prominent in learning.

        “We are moving to an environment of `omni-education’ – an environment in which the boundaries between online and `traditional’ education are necessarily blurred,” said Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Bill Hardgrave. Students of all types – full-time, part-time, undergraduate and graduate – have come to expect “education when, where and how they need and want it.”

        According to U.S. News & World Report, the Harbert College ranks among the nation’s best schools of business for providing graduate-level online educational programming. The college’s MBA and non-MBA offerings (including accounting, information systems management, and finance) each earned top 10 rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 survey of the nation’s best online graduate business programs.

        The college tied for seventh among non-MBA online programs, while the online MBA program shared the No. 10 ranking in its category. U.S. News & World Report’s rankings are based on such factors as faculty credentials and training, student engagement, student services and technology, and admissions selectivity.

        Hardgrave said online programs are ideal for students who may be balancing career or family obligations. Harbert College’s online students find that their learning experience mirrors that of an on-campus graduate student. Online students have the option of joining classes live or watching recorded content at their convenience. The college’s online MBA program has ranked 12th or better each year since U.S. News & World Report began assessing the quality of online graduate business programs in 2013. The college’s other online graduate programs, which includes the Master of Accountancy (MAcc), Master of Science in Finance and Master of Science in Information Systems, have earned top 10 recognition both years since the publication also began focusing on non-MBA specializations.

        In recent years, Auburn’s online MBA program has earned national recognition from Poets & Quants, U.S. News & World Report and PayScale for its value as well as the mid-career salaries of its graduates.

        “This recognition is a testament to the quality of our program, faculty, staff and students,” said Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs Stan Harris. “One of the things we emphasize in our online MBA is return on investment and value proposition for students. Given the average program cost of the other schools in the top 10 is over twice Auburn’s cost, it is easy to see why we have a big head start on offering value.”

        While the Harbert College of Business was among the early innovators in distance learning, initiating its MBA program for off-campus students in 1989, Hardgrave said the college remains focused on evolving to meet the needs of students as technological changes affect the ways we live, work, and learn.

        “In the not-so-distant future, we are likely to see the dichotomy of online and traditional [education] fade away,” he said. “Overall, the challenge is how do we successfully blur those lines between traditional and online without sacrificing quality or eroding the student experience? We’re taking on this challenge as a great opportunity to enhance our role as an innovator in content delivery and as a provider of a superior student experience.”