Over the past few years, the graduate program enrollment rate here at UW – Whitewater has continued to climb, with this fall 2020 setting a new record of 1,567 students. Much credit for this success can be given to the online MBA, which was established over 20 years ago within the College of Business and Economics. The recent 2019 installment of UW-Whitewater Online has also now expanded accessibility to many students. To achieve such a successful graduate program, a lot of adaptation took place over the years to expand online learning for a wider array of students.
Many students, especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, need flexibility to balance their education, work and social lives, so in order to cater to those needs UW-W had to create a high quality and affordable way to deliver coursework. Many programs such as the business school and Communication Department now conveniently offer programs fully online in communication, business administration, cybersecurity, instructional design, special education and more.
“I’m really excited about our new master’s in communication that launched this past September because it’s uniquely composed of ‘stackable’ certificates in health advocacy, organizational communication, social and new media, and strategic communication. A student can complete just one or two of these standalone certificates, or they can stack three together with a professional capstone and earn the full M.S. degree. Not only can students simultaneously earn three professionally oriented graduate certificates and a master’s degree, but they can do it in as little 18 months.”
Adaptation is important now more than ever in a constantly changing world, and a big change within recent years that furthered the graduate programs dealt with UW-W offering even more advanced and specialized degrees. For employers, undergraduate degrees are a major step up from a high school diploma, but a graduate degree can be even more appealing due to the specialization of the degree and professional orientation. Graduate degrees enable an individual to become even more advanced and prepared for their field of work.
“I am excited that we have the right mix of programs that makes UW-Whitewater very attractive to meeting their career and education goals. I am also excited about the opportunity to attract a more diverse student body to UW-Whitewater. Traditional graduate programs offered on-campus favor those students who can afford to take time off to commit to full-time graduate studies. The flexibility and convenience in our current part-time and online programs appeal to a broader inclusive audience,” said Ambrose.
Among others, the College of Letters and Sciences can also be credited with the increase of enrollment rates. In former years, the college only had one graduate program, a master’s degree in school psychology. However, recognizing a need for expansion, the College of Letters and Sciences and the College of Business and Economics together created a new masters in cybersecurity. The College of Letters and Science now also offers a masters in social work and computer science.
“The development and expansion of these programs is exciting because it allows us to introduce the great work that we do here at the UW-W to many more students. The computer science program is attracting international students to their program who otherwise would not come to UWW. Non-traditional students who may have completed their undergraduate degrees elsewhere are now enrolling in our graduate programs,” said College of Letters and Sciences Franklin Goza.
UW-Whitewater graduate programs have been increasingly successful over the years due to faculty and staff tending to students’ interests, as well as expanding on inclusivity, accessibility and affordability of the coursework. Adaption is clearly the key to success for these programs as they focus on what is in the best interest of graduate students.