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McCool Hall is the home of the College of Business at Mississippi State University.

State MBA programs on the rise nationally

Ole Miss students gather around Holman Hall, home of the School of Business Administration on the Oxford campus.


The Masters of Business Administration  degree program at the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration continues to gain national recognition, most recently ranking 36th among America’s public universities in the Bloomberg Business Week News Service annual rankings of MBA programs in the U.S. This was the third year Ole Miss went up in BBW rankings.

Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, said he is thrilled the MBA program is getting the attention it deserves. He attributed the success to the commitment of their faculty, staff, and board to provide excellent graduate educational opportunities.

“We are proud of our MBA graduates and the recognition that the program is receiving and look forward to the future,” Cyree said.

The Ole Miss online MBA program has also been named one of the best in the country. It was ranked number one in the nation by College Choice in 2016, and 21st in the nation in 2017 by US News & World Report.

Ashley Jones, MBA director of admissions, said their campus and online program offers the same quality degree where students are taught by world renowned faculty who are top researchers in their field. She said students are engaged in a 36-hour curriculum that encompasses a broad knowledge of business skills, ranging from finance and accounting to marketing and entrepreneurship. They are taught the latest trends and developments that are shaping the future of business.

“While in the program, we strive to equip our MBA students with tools that will make them stand out in a competitive workforce,” Jones said. “We want Ole Miss MBA graduates to be successful in the job market and have opportunities for advancement in their careers. It becomes ‘full circle’ as we believe our graduates will then share and contribute to future growth of the program.”

Jones said both online or on campus programs carry the same prestige and quality.

“The delivery format is simply different, and each method brings their own strengths,” Jones said. “For our campus students, we utilize opportunities both in the classroom and outside the class. Beyond the classroom, the program provides opportunities for students to develop and hone their professional skills. Additionally, we emphasize the importance of building their professional network by offering a mentorship program, bringing in speakers from various industries, and providing special events throughout the year that allows students to engage with professionals. They obtain the knowledge plus build their network – thus allowing them a competitive advantage.”

Walter D. Davis, faculty director of the MBA programs, said faulty includes top scholars in finance, leadership, marketing, management information systems, organizational behavior, strategic management, and supply chain management.

“Many of the faculty have published in the most prestigious academic journals in their fields,” Davis said.

Davis said it is also beneficial that their students come from a diverse array of professional contexts, which further enhances the learning and professional development of students as they interact with one another.

Almost all of the online students are non-traditional and most are working full-time.

“Since the online degree program online program does require at least 2 years of work experience, we see many students in the program who are currently employed and are looking to improve their skills,” Jones said. “They would like to advance within their company or seek out new opportunities. With the online options, people no longer have to quit their job to return to school. They can keep their job, manage other life responsibilities, and pursue a graduate degree. Our campus program is ideal for recent grads because we have a one year program that requires no work experience.”

Many students come from backgrounds other than business, such as engineering, math or liberal arts. The program is designed to serve students from many different educational backgrounds.

Lilly Meeks, a MBA student from Meridian, said she chose the Ole MBA program for several reasons: flexible course scheduling, strong group of faculty with a variety of backgrounds, and smaller classes that allow interaction with peers and professors.”

“With a goal to become a financial planner, I recognized that an MBA would be essential to couple alongside my Bachelor of Science in mathematics degree,” Meeks said. “I also understood the importance of broadening my network in the business world and collaborating and sharing ideas with others. I have already made connections that will be invaluable for my future career, and you can’t find that in every MBA program.”

The online program has more than 100 students enrolled.

“Students in the program bring with them a wide array of professional backgrounds which fosters for a rich learning environment, particularly in an online format with discussion boards,” Jones said. “For example, a business analyst in Mohegan Lake, New York is able to discuss topics with a pharmacist in Jackson.  A coach in Arkansas can collaborate with a first lieutenant serving in Afghanistan.”

MBA programs have a high rate of job placement. A recent study showed that about 89 percent of MBA graduates from U.S. universities find jobs within three months of completing a degree.

“People now recognize that an MBA is the best option for them because they can carry that degree in most any field and be successful,” Jones said.


MSU’s distance program jumps four spots in rankings

Two distance degree programs offered by Mississippi State University’s College of Business are among the best in the nation in rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.

The 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings of best online programs lists MSU’s Distance MBA program at No. 18 nationally in the latest rankings, up from No. 22 in last year’s rankings. MSU’s Distance Master of Science in Information Systems (non-MBA) program is ranked No. 43, up 11 spots from the 2016 rankings.

“Our faculty do such a great job in the distance programs,” MSU College of Business Dean Sharon Oswald said.

“They are able to maintain the same rigor and benefits of a full-time program while still supporting and understanding the requirements of the working student.”

MSU’s online graduate program in the Bagley College of Engineering was once again ranked in the top 25 nationally, coming in at No. 24 in 2017.  The College of Education’s distance graduate program also made the national rankings at No. 84.

MSU’s Distance MBA program has now been in the top 25 of the U.S. News online rankings for three consecutive years and is the highest-ranked program in Mississippi. MSU was the only Mississippi university ranked in the top 100 non-MBA online business and online engineering program rankings.

Established in 1933, U.S. News & World Report releases annual rankings of universities and individual academic programs from across the country and is in its sixth year of collecting data from distance education programs.


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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal and has been with Journal Incorporated in some capacity for more than 12 years. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids, 2 dogs and a hamster named Chainsaw. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.