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While Drexel Business students may have a long commute to their offices, the distance they have to travel for class will soon be non-existent. Drexel's Bennett S. LeBow College of Business introduced this week what it calls the country's first "techno-MBA" program, in which all classes will be taught online. The new degree, MBA Online: Drexel's Technology Management Program -- which will begin offering courses to a group of 20 students in April -- is designed for professionals who do not have time to attend classes at the campus full-time. "This is a very exciting program that has the potential to make the MBA available to a whole new type of client who previously did not have the opportunity to get an MBA," said Thomas Wieckowski, director of masters programs at Drexel. Wieckowski, who began designing MBA Online about two years ago, said the program is different from other online courses because it integrates academic content and current theory in business specialities, including e-commerce management and the management of information systems. "It's an interesting marriage of technology content and technology delivery," said LeBow Dean Pamela. The program is being launched with support from, a Denver-based company that helps colleges and universities offer courses via the Internet. The company is providing Drexel with a $235,000 grant, software and other services for the delivery of the MBA program's 13 online courses, which will be delivered over seven academic terms. Students also have the option of enrolling in a two-year program that would require them to attend three four-day seminars on campus. The techno-MBA program is the advanced level of Drexel's online MBA program. Over a year ago, Drexel launched accredited foundation courses online for the MBA degree. Lewis said many prospective students inquire about the quality of the online programs. "There are other online programs but not of the quality [of techno-MBA]," she said, adding that all of the courses are developed and taught by full-time Drexel faculty. And in relation to the traditional, in-class MBA program, the admissions criteria for the new online program is at least as stringent, Lewis added. Students must have a minimum of five years of working experience in order to enter into the techno-MBA program. Also, like non-online classes, there are plenty of opportunities for professors and students to get to know one another. "Just because it's online doesn't mean there's no interaction," Wieckowski said. "It is not self-study? and interaction is not just face to face." In fact, according to Lewis, 85 percent of the approximately 250 students who were enrolled in the original online program -- which offers only base-level MBA courses -- last year said they felt they had more interaction with professors in the online course that they had in traditional classes. And 70 percent of those students said they felt they had greater interaction with their peers. Lewis said the more introverted students, who often hesitate to take part in regular classroom discussions, are likely to participate in an online environment, in which they have more time to formulate their thoughts. Tuition for the techno-MBA program will be about $26,000 -- the same as for Drexel's traditional MBA program -- plus a 5 percent technology fee.

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