Archives For College of Business Administration

Sam Houston State University Online students come from many different places and life situations, and all face unique challenges as they work to earn their degrees. Angela Cravens, who just graduated this past week with a bachelor’s degree in general business administration, has successfully balanced work in the information technology sector and raising a young family while also earning her online B.B.A. at SHSU… and she intends to take her education even further.

Cravens had previously attended SHSU as a traditional student, but had discontinued her earlier studies due to financial constraints. She earned a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation while working at global software firm BMC in Houston, and her company also encouraged her to seek a bachelor’s business degree.

Cravens2She was quick to select SHSU’s online B.B.A. program. “I have attended many other state universities in the past, and SHSU by far offers more interaction and technology to accommodate the best online experience,” Cravens notes. “I also liked the fact that if needed, I could be advised via Skype or phone, or even drive to campus if absolutely necessary. Either way, there was always a way to get the guidance I needed.”

Flexibility was also very important to her. “I chose the SHSU Online degree program for convenience and well-rounded nature of the program,” she says. “As a full-time working professional with children and work-related travel, having the flexibility to do my studies was key.”

Another factor in favor of SHSU Online’s program for Cravens was her ability to transfer a generous number of hours from Lone Star Community College, and to take courses at the University Center. As she says, “I was able to maximize my hard-earned educational dollars.”

Though online learning by its nature involves a large amount of solo effort by students, Cravens was also able to make some important connections with fellow students as she approached the final year of her B.B.A. program. “It was in my final year of studies that the assignments required heavier collaboration in a team structure for projects, and I’m still in contact with several classmates outside of school as a result,” she notes. “There were many working adults, parents, and non-traditional students that I could identify with in the online program, and we inspired and encouraged each other along the way.” She also appreciated many professors in the online program, including Mrs. Cathy Lockwood (statistics), Dr. Robert “Chip” Matthews (entrepreneurship), and others who, she says, “inspired me to examine things from different angles and try my very best.” Cravens3

On May 8, Cravens celebrated her graduation with her husband, Aaron J. Cravens (SHSU ’11 and U.S. Army veteran), her two children, and her grandmother—who, she notes, grew up working on a cotton farm and did not have the chance to attend college. “Ever since I was a little girl, she has very much inspired me to become a woman in business,” she says.

While achieving her B.B.A. is an important milestone that she hopes will help advance her professional IT career, she already has a further goal – she hopes to return to SHSU to earn a master of business administration degree in the future. Cravens believes SHSU Online’s program is one of the best in the nation for both the quality of education and the ability to meet the needs of returning or continuing students.

2015-USNews-Web-Hero(NoSwoosh)-1940x746For the fourth straight year, Sam Houston State University has earned national recognition in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of online education programs.

2014 was the first year that SHSU was invited to participate in the ranking process for Best Graduate Online Criminal Justice degree programs, and the university came in at #5 in the nation.  In the Student Services and Technology area of the ranking dimensions for this program, SHSU is second nationwide. The Student Engagement and Faculty Credentials and Training dimensions of the rankings also contributed to the program’s overall top-shelf ranking. And the new student retention rate for this program is 85 percent for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Another standout ranking for SHSU was in the Graduate Online Information Technology Program listing. Here the university notched a rank of #7, again with exceptional scores in Student Services and Technology, Student Engagement, and Faculty Credentials and Training. This program has earned similar high rankings in past years in the U.S. News & World Report listings. SHSU’s overall rank of #7 places the school in the top sixth, or top 16 percent, of all schools included in the ranking report for Graduate Online Information Technology Programs nationwide.

In the rankings of Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs, SHSU fell within the top 25 percent of all universities included in the survey. Similarly, in the Best Online MBA Programs rankings, the university’s rank is comfortably in the top third (31 percent) of all schools surveyed.

Bill Angrove, associate vice president for distance learning, says: “The #5 ranking of the Best Graduate Online Criminal Justice degree programs is especially rewarding to me as this is the first program to be put online after my arrival at SHSU Online in 2009. In helping to develop this program, I was honored to work closely with the former Dean of the College of Criminal Justice, Dr. Vincent Webb, and I am sure he is as thrilled as I am to receive this recognition. It’s also an honor to be recognized by U.S. News and World Report with high rankings for so many additional online degree programs.”

SHSU Online’s service plays a key role in the university’s placement regarding U.S. News & World Report’s “Student Services and Technology” indicator by providing student support and highly accessible technologies and services and strong support to its students.

U.S. News & World Report’s “Student Engagement” indicator measures the degree to which programs promote quality participation in courses, allow students opportunities to both readily interact with their instructors and fellow classmates similarly to a campus-based setting, and allow students to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

SHSU offers more than 35 fully online degree programs, including two doctoral programs, as well as 24 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit

A complete listing of the U.S. News and World Report online rankings can be found at

The College of Business Administration offers a unique perspective on project management through the online Master of Science in Project Management degree, a program committed to positioning students to launch new products and services into rapidly changing environments.


Pamela Zelbst, Ph.D., PMP, associate professor of Management and director of the Center for Innovation & Technology, says the College of Business Administration took their time to ensure the online program would prepare their students to make an immediate impact in the workplace.

“Developing the online M.S. in Project Management is something we’ve been working on for a very long time; five years ago we began meeting to determine what would most benefit our online students,” she says. “The nice thing about this degree is most project management degrees will be in Information Technology, whereas our degree is offered through the College of Business Administration. There are very few programs in the country with that emphasis, and we feel we bring a unique perspective to the table.”

One of the requirements for admission into the program is three years of significant managerial and professional experience. Zelbst says this requirement allows for students to contribute to meaningful class discussions as well as act as a facilitator for personal experience amongst peers.

The program emphasizes student preparation for certification by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the premier certifying organization for the project management discipline.

Zelbst says she consistently receives feedback from her students throughout the semester regarding how quickly students are able to incorporate their coursework into their professional settings.

“The program is practical in nature, which allows for students to assess situations quickly and incorporate change when necessary,” she says. “Our faculty work very hard to develop our curriculum for the program and a whole team of people are working to push the program forward. Project management is a passion, and companies are looking for people who can make things happen”

The program’s thinking outside of the box philosophy has led students to working alongside top businesses across the world, including a recent project with NASA.

Visit to find out more about the online Master of Science in Project Management offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

A Sam Houston State University finance professor invested long-term in teaching online, and says the return on his investment has been worth its weight in gold.

Balasundram Maniam, a professor in the College of Business Administration, was at the forefront of online learning for the college when he began teaching online courses in the Fall 2009 semester.

“To prepare for teaching online, I read a lot about what was developing in the field of education, and I saw how technology was changing things; what was available and what could be done in courses,” he says. “I had my reservations, but I soon went from a skeptic to a believer; I’m preaching online learning now.”


In November, Maniam was recognized as a Regents’ Professor by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System for his “lengthy record of consistently superior student evaluations,” and “commitment to innovation in teaching, as evidenced by his groundbreaking development of online courses in finance.”

Maniam, better known to his students as “Bala,” began teaching FINC 5310, Introduction to Institutions, Investments, and Managerial Finance, as his first online course and has continued to update the materials, presentation, and supplements of the course often through the years.

He says updating the methodology and approach of the course to keep it fresh served as a representation for teaching online in general, as the key to keeping the course relevant to students is adapting to both their personal and professional needs.

“It takes a lot of time and energy to both design and execute a course properly, and making yourself availability to students 24-hours a day, seven days a week, is part of that process,” he says. “But the students see your dedication to their learning experience, and they return your effort through quality responses and questions about assignments.”

Maniam was so confident in the resources and approach of his online course that in the Fall 2013 semester, he invited students enrolled in his face-to-face FINC 5310 course to utilize the resources of his FINC 5310 online course in addition to classroom discussions. He says students gave resounding positive feedback after accessing online course content such as streaming video lectures, notes, and supplemental readings.

“Certain aspects of face-to-face learning only give so much to students, and communication is key to their success,” he says. “Online students have the ability to pause, rewind, and review online lectures, communicate directly with me via email, and control the speed of their learning on their terms.”

-Professor Balasundram Maniam

Looking back, Maniam says the process of learning to teach online, one that he initially met with reluctance, made him a better professor.

“I saw that educators were getting more and more online, and I didn’t want to be on the sidelines; I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, keep up with the technology, and be comfortable moving forward in the future,” he says. “Teaching courses online has made me a better professor, and I really appreciate what online can do; 10 to 15 years ago I wouldn’t have thought so, but the advantages of online learning are undeniable.”

For the third consecutive year, Sam Houston State University has earned national recognition in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of online education programs.

Of the four programs SHSU submitted for review in the 2014 report, three of SHSU’s online programs received a ranking in the top 20 percent in the nation and one program garnered a national ranking in the top ten.


The overall rankings placed SHSU No. 7 among “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs” and also earned a No. 1 national ranking in the “Student Engagement” indicator for the category.

SHSU also received national recognition with a ranking of No. 20 among “Best Online Graduate Education Programs,” No. 41 among “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” and No. 43 among “Best
Online Graduate Business Programs.”

The rankings effectively garnered SHSU in the top 10 percent in “Best Online Graduate Education Programs,” top 19 percent in “Best Online Graduate Business Programs,” and top 15 percent in “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.”

“SHSU Online is fortunate to work with our esteemed faculty, and we are dedicated to providing students with quality and convenient online learning options,” says Bill Angrove, associate vice president for distance learning. “We view the results from the 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings as evidence that we are succeeding in our goals, and we will continue to work hard to further improve our services and assistance to students.”

In “Student Services and Technology,” an indicator used to determine schools’ overall rankings, SHSU ranked as high as No. 4, and no lower than No. 25 nationally, among all schools.

U.S. News & World Report rates the incorporation of “Student Services and Technology” indicator through the use of both diverse online learning technologies that allow greater flexibility for students to take classes and labs from a distance and a strong support structure providing learning assistance, career guidance, and financial aid resources comparable to campus-based programs.

SHSU Online’s service plays a key role in the university’s placement regarding the “Student Services and Technology” indicator by providing student support and highly accessible technologies and services and strong support to its students.

Moreover, in “Student Engagement,” the primary indicator encompassing 30 percent of the school’s score, in addition to SHSU’s No. 1 national ranking in “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs,” the university earned a No. 21 national ranking in “Best Online Graduate Education Programs” and No. 28 national ranking in “Best Online Graduate Business Programs.”

U.S. News & World Report rates the “Student Engagement” indicator as programs that promote quality participation in courses and allow students opportunities to both readily interact with their instructors and fellow classmates similarly to a campus-based setting and to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

In addition to three online undergraduate degree programs, SHSU offers 24 graduate degree programs, including one doctoral program and one special program for members of the U.S. military, as well as 22 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit

A complete listing of the U.S. News and World Report online rankings can be found at


Living room in SHSU Online's gamingSHSU Online‘s Instructional Multimedia Group works with faculty to provide students with personalized and contextualized online learning experiences through the use of interactive gaming.

Using gaming technology such as Unity and Photon Cloud, a 3D game engine and server, and Second Life, a virtual world where thousands of users interact with players across the world, the group collaborates with faculty members to create instructional multimedia, immersive environments, and simulation models for their online courses.

Jennie Powers, graphics coordinator for the SHSU Online Instructional Multimedia Group, says the fusion of a complex technological landscape and a strong online culture created an opportunity for educators to cater to students in a familiar setting.

“We are beginning to use online gaming technology as a vehicle for collaborative activities, as well as for reflective exercises, ” she says. “We construct each educational game or simulation to meet learning objectives outlined by professors who are seeking innovative methods to provide their online students with interactive experiences comparable to the activities of face-to-face students.”  Continue Reading…