WPI Business Programs Earn International Accreditation

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5706

Worcester, Mass. - The bachelor's and master's degree programs in business at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have achieved accreditation from the discipline.s standards organization AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The official announcement will be made on April 24 at the AACSB International Conference and Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Less than 21 percent of all business programs nationwide are accredited by AACSB.

Offered through the university.s Department of Management, business programs at WPI focus on the management of technology, and feature an interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizing leadership, ethics, communications and a global perspective. The programs have been developed to meet employer and employee needs. With its AACSB accreditation, WPI becomes the only institution in the United States that has both AACSB and ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited programs housed in the business academic unit, according to McRae C. Banks, head of WPI's Department of Management.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment by our faculty members," notes Banks. "Both accrediting bodies have demanding standards, yet there are similarities in their emphasis on outcomes assessment and continuous improvement. Striving to meet each group's standards actually made us stronger for the other."

The accreditation of WPI's business programs is the culmination of an intensive process that began in 1994 when the department applied to AACSB for pre-candidacy. To achieve accreditation, business programs must satisfy the expectations of a wide range of quality standards relating to strategic management of resources, interactions of faculty and students in the educational process, and achievement of learning goals in degree programs. These standards are mission-linked. During the accreditation process, WPI was visited and evaluated by business school deans with detailed knowledge of management education, applying accreditation standards that are widely accepted in the educational community.

In granting accreditation, the AACSB board commended several aspects of WPI's business programs, including its identification of a unique mission and strategic focus; interdisciplinary and project-based curriculum that includes "capstone" experiences; distance education option for graduate students; and linkages to the business community, especially through the WPI Venture Forum and the WPI Collaborative for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

"This milestone is another step toward our goal of having WPI's Department of Management become one of the acknowledged leaders in business programs focusing on the management of technology," says Edward Alton Parrish, president of WPI. "And with more than half of our students pursuing studies in majors other than engineering, this accreditation is another sign illustrating that WPI has much more to offer than traditional engineering programs."

The first courses in management were offered at WPI during the 1960s, through the joint efforts of several existing campus departments. The need for a full business curriculum focusing on technology was soon realized, and the Department of Management became its own entity later that decade. Since that time, the department's growth has reflected the evolving needs of a technology-driven economy. In 1979, WPI's MBA (Master of Business Administration) program began, along with the Distance Learning program - becoming the nation's second-oldest MBA program available entirely at a distance.

WPI's business programs took their current form in 1997 with the introduction of its current curriculum focusing on the management of technology. Today the department is home to approximately 220 undergraduate and 250 graduate degree-seeking students, as well as 21 faculty members.

"Our focus on the management of technology makes us fairly unique among business programs and really drives our success," says Banks. "We knew we could not be all things to all people, so we selected a focus critical to businesses that fit with the engineering and science emphasis of WPI."

Banks adds, "From that time our focus has driven everything, from recruiting students and faculty members, to curriculum decisions, to placements, to partnerships with corporations and other universities. We know we can, and do, execute our focus better than any other institution, and that is the essence of our success."

WPI offers undergraduate majors in industrial engineering (this program is accredited by ABET), management, management engineering and management information systems (MIS); and minors in entrepreneurship, management, MIS and organizational leadership.

At the graduate level, WPI offers an MBA, an M.S. in operations and information technology, and an M.S. in marketing and technological innovation; a combined BS/MBA program; and graduate certificates in technology marketing, management of technology, information technology, electronic commerce, and information security management.

To learn more about WPI's Department of Management and its business programs, visit www.mgt.wpi.edu.

About AACSB International

AACSB International is a not-for-profit organization consisting of more than 900 educational organizations and corporations. Its mission is excellence in management education in colleges and universities. Headquartered in St. Louis, AACSB International is the premier accrediting agency and service organization for business schools.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs . including the largest industry/university alliance in North America - that have won it worldwide recognition.