Boston University announces its new virtual department 

By Sophie Jin

Boston University News Service

Boston University announced on Nov. 14 that the university is adding a new department called BU Virtual for graduate students. 

Virtual learning, which first opened to BU students in 2002, has significantly increased at BU since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Questrom School of Business first held its Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program virtually in the fall of 2020 and now the School of Public Health is planning on providing a master’s program online starting January 2023. 

Wendy Colby, BU’s inaugural vice president and associate provost for BU virtual, explained the program further in an interview with BU Today. 

Colby explained the significance of having this virtual department as more students are interested in acquiring more knowledge in fields.

“I believe the pandemic accelerated the call for innovation and digital transformation inside of universities to move beyond the walls of the classroom,” Colby said. “There’s never been a more important time than now to think about scaling for the workforce – to extend our online programming in ways that will position BU as a leader in innovative education delivery.”

Colby added that virtual learning will also provide opportunities for students worldwide to take classes and earn their degrees. 

Current BU students expressed impartial or negative responses about virtual learning. 

Mia McCarthy, a senior at Boston University, said she does not like virtual learning, especially after her experience with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I kind of hate it,” Mccarthy said. “I don’t end up focusing [on my assignment] during virtual classes. I dislike it very much.”

James Buckser, a sophomore at Boston University, also said that he prefers attending class in person as it also benefits him to be more focused and productive with his work. 

“I like having a reason to go somewhere in the day or I end up going to the library and [not do work],” said Buckser.

There were other students such as Sarah Chen, a freshman from Connecticut, who said that virtual learning can be advantageous for some students.

“I think it’s great that they’re trying to accommodate [this program] and for the future,” said Chen.

Chen continued that though the virtual department can be useful, she feels like BU is trying to replicate or follow other universities that have a large remote learning program. 

Coby said that BU is currently focusing on graduate programs in the virtual department, as she believes that in-person learning is highly demanded by undergraduate students. 

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