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Busy MBA students take advantage of online opportunities

Want to get an MBA totally online through Mississippi institutions of higher learning?

Even though other colleges and universities offer some online options, Mississippi State University (MSU) and University of Mississippi are the only two schools in the state that allow students to complete the entire program online.

The Bulldog MBA

MSU, which has the oldest business school in the South, has fine-tuned the Distance MBA program since establishing it in 2001. More than 150 students have graduated from the online program.

MSU graduate students may earn a straight MBA degree (30 hours) or one with a concentration in project management (32 hours). They may enter the flexible program during any semester and have the potential to earn an MBA within two years. Courses are taught in fast-paced, intensive eight-week modules via the Internet.

“In the old days, 75% of MBA students chose their program for one main reason: location,” said Barbara Spencer, Ph.D., director of graduate studies in business for the College of Business and Industry. “Now, with the advent of new technologies for teaching and learning, students aren’t confined to any particular geographic location. We’ve found that by offering our program online, we can attract students to MSU who might never have considered us before. We have great students in Texas, California, Florida, Japan, Iraq and even a fellow who works for Chevron in Africa.”

The MBA curriculum includes 24 hours in accounting, economics, finance, marketing, statistics, management and management information systems; a three-hour elective; and a capstone business consulting project, in which students apply what they have learned to a business problem. vTotal cost: $13,312.50. Additional fees include textbooks, a $30 application fee, a $50 graduation fee and expenses related to fulfilling missing prerequisite business undergraduate courses. Students should have, of course, a computer with high-speed Internet access.

Allen Nichols, director of the Wadsworth Public Library in Wadsworth, Ohio, had earned an industrial management degree in 1989 from the University of Akron and a master of library science degree in 1991 from Kent State University when he decided to pursue an MBA. He sought a distance learning program that was accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and called the MSU Distance MBA program “truly a hidden gem.”

“For me, the degree program took 18 months of mostly full-time coursework — a worthwhile investment of my time and energy,” he said. “The faculty was responsive and willing to help in any way necessary. They used the latest technological resources to provide me with a rigorous level of coursework that I could log into at any time, day or night. The curriculum exposed me to the wide range of issues facing business leaders today, and even though I did the work from my home computer, I don’t believe I missed out by not being on campus.”

The Rebel MBA

The Ole Miss Professional MBA (PMBA) program costs slightly less ($11,016, plus a $10 per semester-hour technology fee and other regular expenses), is less flexible (starts every January) and requires some on-campus participation (two weekends per year, typically in January and July). The two-year, year-round program requires 36 hours of coursework and is limited to 25 students. Full-time employment is an admission requirement to the program, and all students must have completed at least two courses in accounting, two courses in statistics and one course in each of the following: calculus, finance, management, marketing and management information systems.

“Our program is fairly small,” explained John Holleman, Ph.D., director of MBA program administration for the School of Business Administration, so “that we are able to be more responsive to individual student needs. Also, the students in our program tend to work together extremely well. Faculty who teach in our program have developed assignments that encourage students to quickly become a very cohesive unit. Moreover, they enjoy most of their assignments because they can see how the work relates to experiences and challenges they have faced in the business world.”

Dottie Berry, vice president of information technology strategy management for FedEx Services in Memphis, a PMBA online student, said “the camaraderie of the PMBA students has surpassed my expectations.”

“My fellow classmates are smart, diverse in their experience and excellent team players,” she said.

Initial PMBA courses focus on essential skills in statistics and mobilizing technology. During the first summer, students develop advanced capabilities in managerial communication and managerial economics, and move into the fall semester emphasizing global business and organizational behavior. The second summer coursework concentrates on contemporary business analysis, business planning and entrepreneurship before students complete program requirements through concept integration and project analysis.

Janice Stevens, an accountant at the University of Mississippi, and a PMBA student, said the program “provides a greater return on classroom knowledge. The skills that you learn throughout the program can be immediately applied to the workplace. What you learn on Monday can have an effect by Friday.”

About Lynne W. Jeter

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