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ASU Online programs among top ranked in the country

ASU Online programs ranked among best in the nation by magazine.
January 9, 2018

Master's of business degree is rated second-best in annual U.S. News & World Report list

The online master’s degree from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University has been ranked second best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, earning a score of 98 out of 100.

The program moved up one spot, having ranked third in 2017.

In addition, the online MBA was ranked fifth in the country with a score of 89, the same as last year.

This is the fifth consecutive year that online programs at the W. P. Carey School of Business rank among the top 5 best programs in the nation. The list was released Tuesday.

U.S. News & World Report provides several higher-education rankings throughout the year, most recently rating ASU as the most innovative university for the third year in a row.

Other 2018 online program rankings for ASU were:

  • bachelor’s degree, fourth in nation for the second year in a row, although ASU’s score improved from 92 in 2017 to 95 this year
  • master’s degree in criminal justice, fifth in the country with a score of 89, the same ranking as last year
  • master’s degree in engineering, 11th with a score of 83, up from 13th last year with a score of 71
  • master’s degree in education, 36th, up from 40th last year

The top online non-MBA business master’s degree program this year was Villanova University. ASU tied for second place with Indiana University.

The magazine scored its “Best Online Business Program” based on five categories: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology.

“One element of our online graduate programs that sets us apart is that students take the same classes from the same faculty as they would in our on-campus programs," said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business who also holds the Rusty Lyon Chair in Strategy.

“We began offering online degrees in the early 2000s, long before it was as widely accepted as it is now. So we know from experience how to deliver great content to students and offer a flexible degree that will ultimately help them take that next step in their careers.”

The new rankings cover the W. P. Carey School’s popular online MBA program, online Master of Science in Information Management program, and online Master of Science in Business Analytics.

“The ‘business is personal’ notion is more than just a tagline at the W. P. Carey School. While in our programs, the staff and faculty create community within and among our graduate programs to ensure that students have dedicated support staff for things like financial planning, student services, academic support and close connections to their faculty and peer students,” said Stephen Taylor, assistant dean of graduate programs.

“Upon graduation, our students become part of one of the nation’s largest graduate business alumni associations, allowing students to strengthen the value of their degree through mentoring programs and continued involvement in the school.”

All of the school’s online graduate programs include small class sizes and easy-to-use online-learning technologies.

Almost 27,000 students are enrolled in one of 150 ASU Online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The average age of ASU Online students is 30, and range from age 22 to 60.

The magazine’s top online bachelor’s program was Ohio State University, with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Temple University tied for second place.

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Snobs and slobs: Ants are just like us

January 9, 2018

ASU animal behavior researcher finds that tree-anchored colonies in Panama display different personalities from their neighbors

You’re at your front door, engaged in the universal human pastime of judging the neighbors.

There’s Perfect Guy. His lawn looks like a flawless green carpet. His wood pile could pass Marine inspection. Your place is never going to look that good.

Then there’s The Slob, with the blue tarp over the carport and a car perched on blocks for years. 

You and your neighbors, as it turns out, have a lot in common with ants — according to a recently published study by an Arizona State University animal behavior researcher.

Azteca ant colonies live in Cecropia trees, defending the trees from threats like choking vines and leaf-eaters. But some ants are more active in defending their tree homes than others, revealing that colonies themselves have personalities.

Peter Marting, a doctoral candidate in animal behavior in the School of Life Sciences, discovered that trees with more active, aggressive colonies have less leaf damage, suggesting that colony personality plays an important role in the mutually beneficent relationship between ant and tree.

“There are inherent, consistent differences from one colony in this tree versus one colony down the street in that tree. You could see it even without officially quantifying it,” Marting said. “... This colony just doesn’t respond to anything; they’re being very cautious and reserved about what they respond to. It’s hard to measure their intent, whether it’s caution or apathy or what it actually is. ... Other colonies are just full-throttle.”

Video by Pratt Lab

In the lowland tropical rainforests of Soberanía National Park in Panama, Marting studied five types of behavior: patrolling behavior, vibrational disturbance, response to intruders, response to leaf damage and exploratory tendency.

The study of animal personalities, or behavioral syndrome, is relatively new. The term was coined in a 2004 paper by biologist Andy Sih of the University of California, Davis.

“He pointed out that the field of behavior, in many fields, tend to look at the population average — take what everybody is doing and take the average — and say something about this population versus that population, and not exploring that variation,” Marting said. “Let’s say I take the mean of these ants I just studied, like the mean aggression level. I would be completely losing all this really valuable information about individuality. What’s up with this variation? Where does it come from? What are the consequences of having a certain personality type?”

Some animals will take an aggressive, bold approach, and others will be more cautious and reserved. There is a world of variation going on among them.

“That really opened up a lot of people’s eyes,” Marting said. “I think one of the things that’s really attractive about that concept in this field is that we interact with that conceptual framework on a day-to-day basis with the humans that we know. We’re judging personality all the time. This person has this, that person has that. It’s just something that’s so inherent to our everyday experience. ... It opens up the animal world in terms of thinking about their existence. ... I think that sparks a lot of interested researchers — certainly myself — in thinking about ‘OK, wow, I really want to know why is this bird like that and why is that bird like this?’”

Think about pets you’ve owned that had different personalities, regardless of breed. The same thing goes on in the wild. The advantage we have in observing this behavior in pets is we spend every day with them. It’s tough to study in the wild.

“With wild animals, we see one individual, once,” Marting said. “If you’re able to track wild animals and measure their behavior repeatedly in the wild, you get to reveal these personalities that exist. It’s really hard to do in the wild, so there are very few studies which have shown behavioral syndromes in ecological context in nature. The study system I’m using here with the ants that are locked in the trees — those trees aren’t going anywhere; colonies don’t move — I have a huge advantage in being able to roll right up to these trees and look at it for months or years.”

Don’t mistake anthropomorphism — assigning human traits to animals, long taboo in biology — for behavioral syndrome, Marting said.

“I think anthropomorphism is something you should be cautious about,” he said. “It’s also kind of a nice tool sometimes to open up different aspects of an animal’s existence that you can explore. I’m not as cautious as most biologists about anthropomorphizing. I think it can be a good tool to understand or get a story across. It should always be explored or backed up by research. I tend to be a little loose with it myself.”

He pointed to grackles hunting for crumbs on the Starbucks patio where he was sitting for an interview.

“These grackles right here — there’s probably all kinds of different personalities, and those personalities are interacting, and they have friends, if you would, interacting with some more than others. There’s this whole world of variation going on.”

Three follow-up papers by Marting are coming along. “Colony personality and plant health in the Azteca-Cecropia mutualism” was published in November in Behavioral Ecology.

 All photos courtesy of Peter Marting;

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now