The school of business has had an idea floating around for years – to have a program that graduate students can take completely online. Starting in January 2014, an online Master’s in business administration will make this idea a reality.
Kristie Ogilvie, dean of the school of business, said she has only been part of Emporia State faculty and staff for three months, but that “this idea has been talked about since the online market started 10 years ago.”
Gradually, the school of business faculty took the small idea and added bits to the online community. It started with one class and grew until they had nine online classes offered for their MBA program.
A point came however, where they realized that ESU’s online program could not reach out to others in different states if three classes still had to be taken on campus to complete the degree.
“We decided to take the plunge,” Ogilvie said.
Still three months away from the start of the program, the school of business already has 60 leads on individuals that may want to take the program. Realistically, Ogilvie sees about 45 of those actually taking the program, 15 of which will most likely transfer from the on-campus program.
Other than the application process, which is being worked on through the administrative branches of the school, the major focus between now and the launch of the program in January is marketing it to as many people as possible. This is where Jessica Buchholz, marketing and recruiting coordinator of business administration and education, steps in.
“We will be reaching out to people via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Radio, Newspaper and recruitments of younger students that will be finishing their Bachelor’s shortly,” Buchholz said.
Other major selling points include the use of on-campus faculty as online supervisors, which helps with quality, the program’s affordability, the flexibility that online classes give to students and an accreditation by the AACSB International program, which only five percent of schools across the nation achieve.
“There are three main points we have to achieve to get accreditation,” Ogilvie said. “First, that we set a mission and deploy resources based on the mission. Second, the faculty is keeping current with research and connections to learning outside of the classroom and third, that we have a way to prove the students are learning what we say they are learning.”
William Barnes, director of the MBA program, said the professors involved are excited and ready for the challenge.
“Our focus is to structure the online curriculum to help the students achieve the degree in a reasonable amount of time,” Barnes said. “However, we must understand most of the online MBA students will be working full time jobs, but those are the students we want to attract.”
As for the extra amount of work, there really is none, Barnes said. Nearly all of the professors that will be working with the online classes offer these sorts of classes already.
The “entire package” offer is appealing to students, as well. Zach Carlson, a graduate assistant in the school of business, said his life would be fairly different if he had been able to choose the online MBA rather than the one he is finishing in December in the classroom.
“It would give me the chance to work full time even though I would still be taking one or two classes online,” Carlson said. “It helps to work around schedules when being a student can’t be the main focus.”
Carlson said he also saw a negative in the new program; a lack of individualized attention from professors when problems arise. Even though technology is getting faster, he said it still can’t compete with face to face time.
However, with so much potential attached to the new program, Ogivlie said everyone involved is ready to go.
“January is going to be the start of something new and fun for us all,” she said.