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Magazine ranks Clarkson’s online graduate business programs highly

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POTSDAM — A magazine has ranked Clarkson University’s online graduate business programs among the best in the nation.

The university prides itself on being a hotbed for budding entrepreneurs and engineers, but a whole class of future business leaders is too mobile to come to the north country to complete a degree.

That is why Clarkson developed online graduate business programs four years ago, said Boris Jukic, director of MBA programs.

“When you think about Clarkson, we are in a rural area. There aren’t many white-collar jobs, there aren’t many professionals who can come for evening programs,” he said. “If we want to compete with places like Boston University, we want to give the same and better experience to students who want to come home after work and do it from their living room but also talk with other participants.”

U.S. News and World Report has ranked Clarkson 12th among 213 accredited online business programs. Clarkson is the highest-ranking private school on the magazine’s list.

While most schools allow students to do course work on their own schedule, Clarkson’s online programs have scheduled interactions between students and faculty.

“The faculty and the students are in the same virtual space at the same time. In some ways, it is better than when they are in a real class,” Mr. Jukic said. “We embrace this virtual classroom.”

Mr. Jukic said Clarkson sets itself apart by using full-time faculty to teach online courses, while other schools use adjunct professors for their online programs.

“The same faculty who teach in our residential program also teach in our online program,” he said. “That was something where we are really a leader in comparison to other institutions.”

About 60 students participate in the program. Clarkson has designed its online offerings so that students can complete their degrees completely online. The program’s size is limited by the school’s choice of instructors and the virtual classroom format.

That suits Clarkson’s small-classroom culture fine, Mr. Jukic said.

“We are really dedicated to a small classroom model. Our classes never have more than 50 students,” he said. “We feel that in this environment where you have to use two-way video, the classes cannot be too big. That is something we distinguish ourselves by. It is a technical and mental capacity — having this feeling of belonging to a group online.”

Previously, Clarkson’s business program helped pioneer distance learning using phone conferencing and common slides. Mr. Jukic traces the origins of the program back 50 years.

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