WGU MBA Reputation

  • Last Post 28 June 2011
careerchange posted this 26 June 2011 - Last edited 14 March 2016

Do employers approve of "competency-based education" online MBA programs, such as WGU in UTAH?

VickyPhillips posted this 27 June 2011 - Last edited 26 October 2015

That's an interesting question.

WGU Online of Utah is a very different type of online college and hence one that bears a closer look. It is, as you say, a competency based online college. This means that it awards degrees based not on how many courses one completes or how much seat time one spends in a course or class; instead it awards units based on if one can pass comprehensive competency exams in selected subjects or not.

Do employers accept WGU?

Actually WGU was built with the funding of a group of private corporations who wanted to help seed a new type of university -- one that would focus on certifying career skills or competencies rather than one that certified time spent in a classroom or a lecture hall. The original group of funding employers were concerned that too many people graduate college with degrees and course transcripts but without any real test(s) that show they have mastered concrete skills. WGU is still a private, non-profit college backed by large corporations like Microsoft.

Three great colleges were born to help older working and nontraditional students in the military and those educated on the job in careers like IT and aviation and manufacturing and so on:

Thomas Edison State University

Charter Oak State College

Excelsior College

WGU is a little different. By the time that school was founded -- 1997 -- online learning was gaining public traction and so was the need for a new kind of university for nontraditional skilled career professionals.

The Governors of 19 states wanted to launch an affordable online university for working nontraditional students in rural areas. They wanted this college to be both affordable and have a system where older adults who lived in rural areas who had concrete job experience -- say a computer programmer or a nurse -- did not have to spend 16 or 18 weeks taking an introductory case -- they wanted older adults to be able to document or prove competency so they could enter formal study and take only those new courses where they needed to learn new knowledge. They could take tests to show they already had the basic knowledge and only take formal courses or mentoring beginning where their knowledge base ended.

Some people get spooked by the competency model bcs,. it is not a traditional or known learning model in the USA. (It is however VERY WELL known and used in the UK and Europe). Others think WGU must be a degree mill bcs. of the odd competency model.

On the upside those that have heard of WGU seem very pro on the school and its mission.

SEE: Time Magazines review of WGU Online and it's mission.

I would be concerned that the new type of learning model used by this school may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Most Americans are used to sitting in a classroom, writing some papers and passing a course. AT WGU they use a model that involves more self-paced , self-study combined with mentors rather than instructors.

WGU is on several Get Educated rankings of affordable online degree programs.

BUT these degrees are self-paced so if you procrastinate or get stuck you could end up paying more for these degrees than a conventional degree with structured semester or quarter courses. At WGU you keep paying until you pass the exam so if you procrastinate the meter keeps running and fees can add up!

In terms of career acceptance all WGUs professional degrees hold solid programmatic accreditation so they would be accepted in the work force.

There is some early objective data that employers accept WGU online graduates and students.

80 employers responded as part of WGU 2008 Employer Case Study:

* 95 percent of employers rate WGU graduates as equal to or better than their counterparts who graduated from other colleges and universities.
* 90 percent of employers rate WGU graduates' preparation for the workforce as "Good" or "Excellent".
* 81 percent of employers say they would recommend hiring WGU graduates to business associates and affiliated companies.
* 99 percent of employers rated WGU graduates' ability to analyze and solve problems at or above their counterparts.
* 69 percent of employers rate WGU graduates as "Excellent" employees.


All the Best

Vicky Phillips
Founder - Get Educated


careerchange posted this 28 June 2011 - Last edited 06 August 2015

Thank you so much, Vicky, for your time and helpful answers. I read your post and researched the 3 competency-based education programs in the East Cost. It appears that their method of teaching is similar. Just the academic programs may be different. I guess WGU is an extension of these earlier programs with additional academic program choices? Thank you!