Online Student-Faculty Participation Soars –

Northcentral University (NCU) is taking the one-on-one approach with its students. Through the one-to-one teaching model, the school encourages a personal relationship between student and faculty member while maximizing faculty-student engagement.

“We don’t offer a cohort program where there’s a professor with 20 students. The 1:1 model is just that. It’s just a faculty member and a student,” said Dr. Lee Smith, dean of NCU’s School of Business and Technology Management. “It’s a classroom of one. A student is not in competition with other students.”

Smith said NCU limits the number of students assigned to each adjunct faculty member to approximately 30 as a way to ensure each student receives adequate personal attention.

In addition to the 1:1 teaching model, NCU offers its students resources such as an online library, writing center, academic advisors, as well as tutoring through a partnership with Smarthinking.

“When you are an online university, the resources that you are able to offer are critical,” Smith said. “Students have told us that our library is pretty renowned. It’s really a mountain trough of information. Our academic advisors’ primary job is to work with students to help them throughout their academic journey and advisors will also reach out to students if they see students falling into trouble academically.”

NCU, which offers degrees in business administration at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level, currently enrolls 4,038 students in its business programs.

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The 120-credit hour Bachelor of Business Administration degree completion program allows students to receive prior learning credit through the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

“For example, a student might have never taken a management course, but spent four years in the military as a military staff sergeant who led troops,” Smith said. “That student has practical on-the-job training and could potentially be able to use that prior learning by going through the CAEL program. The student would complete a portfolio and present that to us for possible credit in a degree program.”

Within the business programs, there are numerous specializations options available to undergrads and graduate students.

“The specializations that we offer are dictated primarily by industry need,” Smith said. “We are constantly talking to the community. That’s what drives us in terms of being a business-oriented university.”

Smith explained that regardless of the specialization chosen, students will take coursework to ensure they graduate with primary core competencies they will need. Using NCU’s Master of Business Administration as an example, Smith said that students are taught a foundation of basic principles for each aspect of business.

“In our MBA program, personally I think the ethics for the business student class is the most important course they are going to take,” Smith said, “especially in an industry where professionals in high levels of organizations seem to have forgotten the importance of ethics as they work through their careers and engage with other people.”

Smith said each MBA student will graduate with an understanding of basic business principles, such as statistics and human resource management.

“Then they branch off into their specializations to further study in the specific areas they choose,” he said.

Smith said NCU has plans to expand its online business offerings, specifically in risk management.

“We’re looking at offering a master’s in risk management. We see a specific need in that particular area,” he said. “We are also looking at offering a variety of graduate certificates. Those would be beneficial for learners that may already have a bachelor’s degree, but do not want to get a master’s. We’re looking at adding them for accountancy and finance. We are always looking for additional programs based on business needs that have been presented to us.”

As far as future goals for the school, Smith said expansion is a priority.

“The primary initiative is expanding our ability to offer courses and make those courses available to our international markets,” he said. “As a global institution, we want to make sure that those looking for an education in different parts of the world have the opportunity to earn a U.S. accredited degree.”

In addition to regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), NCU’s degree programs in the School of Business and Technology Management are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). NCU was the first accredited online university to feature an ACBSP accredited business school.

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