The University of the Southwest will soon offer its first doctoral degree through its School of Business — a doctorate in business administration degree, which is the first to be offered in New Mexico.
The School of Business at USW will offer the DBA degree through an online program. Ryan Tipton, USW School of Business dean, said getting a DBA degree available at USW has been in the works for the past two to three years. “We noticed our students were wanting more,” Tipton said. “We wanted to be able to offer this final piece for them. We started working toward this — it’s not something you can really put together over night. It’s something that takes years of planning. In terms of New Mexico and West Texas this will be the only (DBA degree) program of this type.”
In order to be able to offer the DBA degree at USW, Tipton and the School of Business faculty wrote a proposal that was approved by the administrative staff and the board of trustees. It was then sent for accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission where the proposal was accepted. Then the Higher Leaning Commission sent a site team to review USW and its School of Business to determine if it has the stability to offer the doctorate program to students.
“One of the ways that they (the Higher Learning Commission) were able to accept it was they actually sent this proposal to two different business firms to have them read it and evaluate it,” said Larry Guerrero, USW provost. “It came back with outstanding evaluations. Then they brought in two site team reviewers and they were here for two days. After being here they approved it, pending the final approval of HLC.”
Once the Higher Learning Commission gives its final approval, which is expected to happen in the next month, USW officials plan to offer the DBA program in its Fall B cohort that starts Oct. 23 or its Spring A cohort that starts in January.
The degree is a 60 hour program past a masters degree with a two residency requirement.
“We expect somewhere of around maybe 15 students per cohort,” Tipton said. “We’re going to have five cohorts a year so we would expect to fill those cohorts every term. If students are very aggressive and get through the dissertation process and don’t drag their feet they can get through they can finish in three years.” Along with being the first university to offer the DBA in the state, USW will also offer a new technology that will help its students pursuing a DBA degree with their dissertations. Tipton said the technology is first of it’s kind and will make dissertations a simpler task for students.
“One of the biggest challenges with doctoral students is the dissertation,” Tipton said. “We’ve spent the last year or so working with some of our technology partners and software engineering groups to build a platform that will help students with that particular piece. We’re taking this big giant project that is a challenge for students and we’re breaking it into manageable pieces. Then giving students blue prints and road maps to complete those pieces. They can see their progress along the way. Currently, nothing like that exists in the field of doctoral programs anywhere.”
Tipton said they have many students interested in the new DBA program and will start taking applications soon.
“There are students that really want to be in this program,” Tipton said. “We are going to be very careful to make sure the students that are admitted are the right fit because it’s a specialized program. It’s designed for students that already have a masters degree in the field of business and at least five years of executive level experience.” Guerrero said USW being approved with the DBA degree program is a historic moment for the university. He said offering a terminal degree shows how well the university and the School of Business is doing.
“This probably is one of the most single monumental important events that have ever taken place,” Guerrero said. “To be able to offer a terminal degree says a lot about your institution. It certainly maintains the integrity of your institution and it says the School of Business is strong, has stability, integrity and certainly is robust.”