Marquette University is continuing to expand its online education offerings to meet the evolving needs of students, particularly within the Graduate School.
The Graduate School boasts several new online degree programs that empower students to earn their masters or doctorate degrees in a way that is conducive to busy schedules that require flexibility.
Here in a brief Q&A, Dr. Douglas Woods, dean of the Marquette University Graduate School, gives some insight on the importance of online higher education, new online programs, the interest they have generated and more.
First, why is it important for Marquette to prioritize online education?
Marquette’s primary place in the higher education space has been to provide traditional 18- to 22-year-old residential college students with a transformative experience. This will always be a central goal of Marquette. However, nationally, 18- to 22-year-old residential college students only make up about 16% of all college students in the country. This would suggest that most college students in the country may not see themselves at Marquette and would therefore potentially miss out on the tremendous education we provide..
Indeed, going online with our graduate and undergraduate programs makes a Marquette education more accessible in a number of ways.
First, there are a large number of potential students who have completed classes at one or more other institutions, but would really like to finish their degrees at Marquette in a convenient way. Online bachelors degree completer programs, like our new online completer program in Business Administration make that possible.
Second, there are a number of students who may have an affinity for Marquette, but live too far away to be on campus. By offering online degrees, we make a Marquette experience available to them.
Third there are a large number of students who work full time or are in the active military who would love to receive a Marquette education but find coming to campus during the week either impossible or too much of an added burden. An online education at Marquette would make it possible for these students to attend.
Finally, we believe our prioritization of online education is actually quite consistent with the university’s Jesuit heritage. Saint Ignatius urged us to live with “one foot raised.” By this he meant that we were not to remain static and never changing, but rather we should always be firmly grounded in our beliefs and values while moving into new areas and responding to the needs of others in their world. We believe that offering an online Marquette education affords us this opportunity.
Historically, what graduate programs have been offered online, and how has the graduate school grown these program offerings?
The Graduate School has historically offered three online degree programs before it began a rapid expansion.
The Graduate School started with an online Masters in Christian Doctrine, a Master of Science in Computing Degree and a hybrid direct-entry Master of Science in Nursing program.
Today, there are 19 different graduate and undergraduate programs that are either fully online or in flexible or hybrid format.
How has enrollment been impacted with the increase in online program offerings?
In Fall 2018, we had nearly 300 students enrolled in online programs. In Fall 2021, we had nearly 600 students enrolled in online programs.
What are the driving forces behind the increased enrollment?
We have grown by creating new online programs, creating online versions of successful on-campus programs, and demonstrating an increased effort on marketing and recruitment through re-organizing the functions of the graduate school and by partnering with third-party providers specializing in marketing and recruitment. These companies include Orbis Education and Everspring.
What is the cost of online education through Marquette (per credit)? Have we made any changes to the cost?
The cost of online education varies by program. The standard per-credit cost for graduate courses is a little over $1,200 per credit, but this varies by program.
What are some standout online programs?
Our most successful online program has been the online Direct Entry MSN program. The enrollments are strong, the graduation rates are high and the performance of the graduates has been stellar.
Our most highly rated program has been our Master’s in Computing program, and our masters in clinical mental health counseling, which was established in 2021, has also been very successful.
We have also started a suite of masters degree programs in data analytics, and we have great hope these will be highly successful as well.
We also converted the campus MBA program into an online format, and that has also enrolled very well.