The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business had one of the biggest jumps in this year’s ranking thanks to massively positive alumni survey results. RIT moved from 22nd in last year’s ranking to 10th this year by placing first in the academic experience category and second in the career outcomes portion. Both are based solely on feedback from the alumni survey which was sent to recent graduates between June and September.
For the academic experience category, we average the results of 11 questions that are based on a one-to-10 scale. This year, RIT had the highest average with an incredible 9.6 across all 11 questions. In the career outcomes category, Saunders was one of just two schools to have all survey respondents say both their primary and secondary career goals were met directly because of the online MBA. To be sure, the school has poured some resources and energy into ensuring students have the best experience possible.
“From our own surveys as well as industry research, we know that executive MBA students want more than a simple transfer of business and management theory and concepts; they want a high level of engagement with faculty and especially with their peers,” the school declares at its online EMBA program website. “The opportunity to discuss, argue, compete, and collaborate with other seasoned managers on strategic and topical issues and projects is an essential feature of a strong EMBA program, and one that has direct and immediate applicability to their own professional development. The RIT EMBA is designed to deliver exactly these experiences.”
LARGE FULL-TIME TECH STAFF
At about 31%, RIT Saunders Online Executive MBA has the lowest acceptance rate of all 35 schools ranked this year. At 14 years, the school also has one of the highest work experience averages among its students. It’s also one of the smallest programs on this year’s ranking with just 20 students currently enrolled. The average age of current students is 37, so it’s also one of the most senior programs on the list.
The 47-credit program, which takes about 18 months to complete, has a relatively high rate of minority enrollment, at 23%, and is not overwhelmingly male, with 48.7% female enrollment. Nearly half of enrollees — 44% — receive some sponsorship from their employers.
The program features 24 credit-granting courses taught by 12 full-time and four part-time instructors. There are also eight full-time tech staff.
YOU’LL GET TO KNOW YOUR COHORT WELL IN THIS PROGRAM
In the RIT Saunders Online Executive MBA, collaboration between online and campus-based students is mandatory. (Additionally, all students must attend a three-day on-campus orientation session prior to the start of classes, and a seven- to 10-day international seminar near the end of the program.) The program is on the Desire2Learn platform and includes both recorded and live streaming video and audio and has a nearly 100% student retention rate. Students take two courses every six weeks, with a curriculum identical to the on-campus program and many of the same faculty teaching in both formats. Classes are delivered via weekly synchronous sessions offering high-quality video and audio functionality for optimal interaction, and all sessions are recorded for later viewing. Faculty also are available in all the usual ways: email, phone, etc.
“Our program utilizes a user-friendly platform that allows for a high level of collaboration between instructors and peers,” the school told us. “Two faculty members teach each course together, ensuring regular access to instructors. Additionally, all of our lectures are recorded, so if a student is unable to synchronously attend a session, the lesson is available for them to view when their schedule allows. The program is also very applied. All students will work on real projects for firms both internationally and domestically. Many classes include work that will be adopted by partner companies.”
The Saunders program is an AACSB-accredited, 17-month, four-semester program with two starts each year: late August and January. The 24 courses are evenly distributed across the four semesters, with some modification over the shorter summer semester. It’s a cohort-based program, which means that all students enter the program at the same time, take the same classes, and move through the program with their initial cohort; some courses are taken with another cohort (i.e., dual-cohort). Students are assigned to teams at the start of the program and will remain with their team for the duration.
The RIT Saunders online MBA costs $1,659 per credit hour, in-state or out, or $78,000 total. Average student financial aid indebtedness is $32,669; two-thirds (67%) of students graduate with debt.