UBalt is ready to meet students' needs and ensure their success
The University of Baltimore's flexible academic programs enable students to earn their bachelor's, master's, law or doctoral degree in a format fit for their lifestyle.
The coronavirus pandemic is shaping the way colleges like the University of Baltimore are running their spring semester. Coursework has been shifted online and campuses, usually bustling with activity as the weather warms and commencement nears, are instead left largely bare. But somewhat hidden behind the rush to revamp how the University would continue operations as usual is the fact that for much of the University of Baltimore, little had to change. Within UBalt's Merrick School of Business, for example, only 50 of the school's currently enrolled students had never taken an online class since starting at UBalt and just one full-time faculty member had never taught online (and that professor underwent training before classes moved online March 23). UBalt's jumpstart on remote education, paired with its low-cost tuition, is just one of the many attributes that could make it an ideal choice for students, in a struggling economy, looking for more affordable and accessible options.
Delivering value for the cost since 1925
A new article in Forbes , citing a national survey of graduating high school seniors, suggests a shakeup is coming in higher education. The majority of respondents say they are rethinking their top choices in favor of colleges that are "likely to be less expensive, closer to home and more familiar to them," according to the study, conducted by the Baltimore-based Art & Science Group. The survey also finds more students are interested in online programs or courses.
"What I have in mind is this," writes Tom Lindsay for Forbes, "after completing their semester online, how many students—or, more likely, how many of their parents—will look at each other when the fall semester college bill comes in the mail—tuition, fees, room and board, and books—and ask, 'What are we doing this for? What of real substance are we acquiring by paying for the on-campus experience? Is it really worth the cost?'"
UBalt, with an affordable tuition and scholarship opportunities, has a long-standing history of helping students earn their degree—through courses available, online, in-person, and sometimes even on weekends—without racking up debt. That's part of why in 2019, Washington Monthly ranked UBalt as No. 1 in Maryland (and 18 overall) on its list of the "Best Bang for the Buck—Northeast" colleges. A strong focus on building the leaders of tomorrow with guidance from professors who represent the best of their fields means UBalt offers dividends that pay off well after graduation, too. A study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce signaled that earning power when it called UBalt the No. 2 public university in Maryland (No. 3 after 10 years) for graduates' return on investment 15, 20, 30 and 40 years after graduation.
An early leader in online learning
UBalt's Merrick School of Business knew it needed to differentiate its MBA program and, in 1999, it became the first AACSB International-accredited school to launch an MBA program that was available to students fully online.
"The Merrick School of Business faculty have been, and always will be, a very flexible and creative and dedicated bunch of people," says Daniel Gerlowski, a professor of economics for the Merrick School of Business. "We teach students things in our classes that they can take to the office with them or take into their career that helps them. I think that's the strength of UBalt historically and today, that's what all of our online offerings do."
In 2019, for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News and World Report ranked UBalt's online MBA as a top program of its kind nationally. This standout graduate business program also ranked as one of the nation's best online MBA programs for veterans. University-wide, UBalt offers five fully online programs in addition to several online courses across its 70-plus undergraduate, graduate, law, and doctoral programs and certificates. Those five fully online options, which include an MBA, M.P.A., M.S. in Interaction Design and Information Architecture, M.S. in Accounting and Business Advisory Services, and a User Experience Design certificate, enable students to earn their degree without ever setting foot on campus. Additionally, students in the four fully online programs pay the same low tuition rate whether they live in Maryland or well beyond its state lines.
An award-winning education, from anywhere
Greg Walsh, associate professor in the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences and director of the D.S. in Information and Interaction Design program, said of the many benefits of teaching online, he enjoys the ability to bring students from anywhere into one virtual classroom.
"We've had students from the Caribbean. We have had students from Michigan, Minnesota, out west. It's worked really well," he said. "And we have a lot of students who started in Baltimore and for whatever reason, end up moving somewhere else and they’re able to keep taking classes."
The M.S. in Interaction Design and Information Architecture (IDIA) program was just one of UBalt’s programs with online courses to earn accolades. The IDIA program is ranked among the Top 50 Best Value Interaction Design/UX/HCI Graduate Degrees of 2020, according to ValueColleges. The same organization named UBalt one of the best Online Colleges in Maryland for 2020. Across UBalt, other programs such as the M.P.A., the M.S. in Negotiations and Conflict Management and the B.S. in Simulation and Game Design, all earned top ranks associated with their online components.
Built for adult learners, working professionals
In the Forbes piece, Lindsay argues that some of the college experience, at least as most people imagine it, has been changing long before COVID-19 became a factor in students' decision-making. Nontraditional has become more of the norm, he writes, with 74 percent of college-seeking students being 25 years or older, working full-time and often also supporting their own families—a demographic familiar to the University of Baltimore.
"We've always been committed to working adults," says Darlene Brannigan Smith, a UBalt alumna and current executive vice president and provost at the University. "For 95 years, in a marketplace in terms of higher education filled with traditionally-minded universities and traditionally-focused universities, UBalt has always been unique because our students are balancing home, work and studies."
While UBalt started out as an evening school specializing in law and business, it has expanded its programs to reach freshmen, transfer students and graduate students. Today, UBalt's student population is one of the most diverse in the University System of Maryland, with students of different ages, races, ethnicities and backgrounds. The average ages of undergraduate and graduate students are 28 and 33, respectively—a statistic that helped Washington Monthly rank UBalt at No. 1 in Maryland (31 nationally) on its list of Best 4-Year Colleges for Adult Leaders. UBalt has freshman straight from high school as well as older adults working toward their first undergraduate degrees after raising families. UBalt is also a community of many first-generation college students, international students, veteran and military-affiliated students, parents and grandparents, and students who fit in classes around full-time jobs. In addition to its online programs, UBalt offers bachelor's degree completer programs to help students that have earned an associate degree from a community college or accumulated credits during military service finish their degree path.
Different by design
The University of Baltimore offers campus life in a variety of ways, whether through student organizations or campus traditions, but on a different scale than traditional universities to focus its education on careers and career advancement for aspiring and current professionals. UBalt has earned regional and national recognition for this model, including for advancing students’ social mobility and maximizing students' earning potential after they graduate.
"Not only do we deliver quality programs at an affordable cost—it's almost as though we guarantee our students long-term earning power," says Smith. "And so everything that we do—from our programming, to our centers, to our learning—is focused on making a difference. Not only in the lives of our students, but equally as important, in the community in which we live."