April 19, 2015

Higher Education

Going Online for an MBA

Internet-based programs offer flexibility.

Janet Ware | 2/28/2014

Online MBA programs, once solely the product of for-profit schools such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University, have gone mainstream. All across Florida, public and private universities with highly regarded and nationally accredited business schools have begun offering MBAs online that are comparable to the MBAs they have long offered on campus. The admission standards, course work and faculty are the same; only the delivery method is different.

Online MBA programs offer flexibility in allowing students to work at their own pace and preferred location. Limitations: Face-to face interaction with professors and peers will be largely limited to discussion boards, online chats and the occasional video conference. And students may now be required to write and submit as an assignment things they might otherwise just speak in class.

Online MBAs are neither easy nor inexpensive. Online students have to work just as hard as on-campus students to earn the required credits, and the cost of earning an MBA online from an accredited college or university in Florida averages $32,000. A degree earned online, however, is exactly the same as one earned by an on-campus student and carries no "earned online" qualifier.

Following are some Florida MBA programs.

University of Florida

Hough Graduate School of Business

Gainesville

In 1999, the University of Florida became the first nationally ranked institution accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) to offer an internet-based master's degree in business administration. UF's online MBA program today is ranked No. 3 on U.S. News & World Report's "2014 Best Online Graduate Business Programs" and is recognized to be among the world's best by the Economist.

UF offers two MBA options online:

For business majors who have graduated within the last seven years: An accelerated 16-month program consisting of a mandatory on-campus orientation and 10 classes over four terms for a total of 32 credit hours.

For undergraduate degree holders regardless of major: A 27-month program consisting of 16 classes over seven terms for a total of 48 credit hours.

Admission to either program requires two years of full-time, professional work experience; class sizes are limited to 65.

Course work is fully online; however, all students must spend a weekend on campus in Gainesville at the close of each term (every four months) for final exams and/or final presentations (on Saturday) and to meet classmates and faculty for their next term (on Sunday).

One interesting perk: A laptop computer configured for the e-platform needed to deliver the courses is included in the price of tuition.

Stetson / UF

Pharmacy / MBA Online Degrees

Thanks to a partnership established in 2008-09 between the University of Florida's College of Pharmacy and Stetson University's School of Business Administration, UF pharmacy students can earn two master's degrees online at the same time.

Students enrolled in UF's online master of science in pharmacy program may concurrently enroll in online classes toward an MBA degree from Stetson. Both programs use the same e-learning platform; students complete 24 credits in the UF online pharmacy program and 24 credits in a Stetson MBA program with a pharmaceutical industry emphasis. Each institution accepts six transfer credits from the other toward its own 30-credit degree. When all course work is complete — typically in as little as three years — students have earned two 30-credit master's degrees with just 48 credits.

Florida State University

College of Business

Tallahassee

At 28 months, Florida State University's online MBA program is among the longest to complete; in terms of curriculum, it is one of the more flexible. All participants must complete 39 credit hours of which 27 are required core courses; they choose the remaining 12.

FSU offers two MBA degrees online: A generalist MBA requires all candidates to take the same set of nine core courses covering business fundamentals and managerial skills; to complete the additional required credits, students may select from a list of f;ex courses on such subjects as risk management, investments, supply chain marketing, sales and marketing and management information systems. The second program is an MBA with a specialization in real estate, designed specifically for those wanting to pursue careers in real estate finance and investment. Core course requirements are the same as for the generalist MBA; however, flex options for this degree include nine credit hours in real estate-related classes and one additional three-credit course from the generalist MBA flex list.

Courses for either online MBA are delivered completely online, with the exception of "Global Business Seminar." Offered in spring and summer semesters only, this flex course includes a 10-day trip abroad.

Admission to FSU's online MBA programs is predicated on a combination of factors, including GMAT or GRE scores, undergrad upper division GPA and work history. A minimum of five years of professional experience is recommended for consideration.

Nova Southeastern University

H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship

Fort Lauderdale

Nova Southeastern University offers 12 MBA programs, 10 of which may be completed entirely online — business intelligence/analytics; finance; global management; human resource management; leadership; management; marketing; process improvement; sales management; and supply chain management.

Degrees may be completed in as little as 18 months or as long as fve years. Nova offers four start dates per year: October, January, April or July.

Work experience is not required for admission, nor is an undergraduate business degree. However, Nova's MBA programs assume that students will have prerequisite knowledge (the equivalent of a "C" grade or better) in selected content areas, including business/corporate finance, microeconomics, financial accounting, marketing and statistics. A GMAT score is not required of students with a cumulative GPA of at least 2. 5 from an accredited four-year undergraduate school.

University of South Florida St. Petersburg

College of Business

USF St. Petersburg offers one MBA online — a generalist program consisting of 12 courses (36 credit hours): 18 credit hours that all USF St. Petersburg MBA students, whether on campus or online, must take, including financial statement analysis; global business environment; regulatory and reporting environments; managerial analysis; organizational strategies for the 21st century; and leadership and corporate accountability.

Also, students take 18 credit hours (six elective courses) from the following focus tracks: Corporate social responsibility; finance; forensic accounting; international business; management; management information systems; and marketing strategies.

Each online course takes eight weeks to complete. Students are encouraged to enroll in no more than two online courses per 16-week semester and to complete them consecutively rather than concurrently. Estimated time to complete the degree: Six semesters (two years).

USF's online MBA is one of the few that does not require work experience as a condition of admission; any undergraduate degree is welcome. To help level the playing field, however, all incoming students, with the exception of recent business grads, must complete the "MBA essentials modules" before beginning for-credit course work to become familiar with basic business concepts.

University of South Florida ( Tampa )

College of Business

The College of Business at USF Tampa plans to begin offering an online MBA with a concentration in sports business in 2014. The first class will begin in August; subsequent classes will be launched in January and May.

The 32-credit hour program, which will take two years to complete, will be 100% online with the exception of an annual on-campus component: A symposium of sports industry leaders will gather with faculty and students on campus each January for networking, mentoring and learning opportunities.

Ideal candidates for the program, say course developers, demonstrate a passion for the business rather than simply a love of sports. Criteria for admission: GRE scores, undergrad performance and professional work experience in the field.

Florida International University

Chapman Graduate School of Business

Miami

FIU offers two MBA options online: A corporate MBA (CMBA) featuring a traditional MBA curriculum consisting of 14 courses, each lasting eight weeks. In addition, there are two professional development seminars, for a total of 44 credit hours. Course topics include operations management, financial reporting and analysis, international business, organizational behavior, strategic management and accounting for managers. The second option is an MBA in health care management. Previously offered on campus only, the specialty MBA was added to FIU's roster of online advanced degree programs last fall. The curriculum includes general business topics as well as courses on decision analysis, financing, reimbursement and economic policy for specific application to health care facilities, systems and services.

No GMAT or GRE is required for admission to either of the programs; however, applicants for each must have four years of relevant professional/ managerial work experience. Estimated completion time for either degree: 18 months.

Course work is fully online; however, health care MBA students must additionally participate in three residencies. Along with internet based course work, opportunities are provided in either program for students to communicate with professors and peers via discussion boards, informal chats and emails. Also available: Online advising and tutoring as well as access to an academic coach for individual assistance.

Saint Leo University

Donald R. Tapia School of Business

Saint Leo

Saint Leo University has been offering courses to adult learners online for more than two decades and currently offers seven online MBA programs: Generalist MBA; MBA with a concentration in accounting; MBA with a concentration in health care management; MBA with a concentration in human resource management; MBA with a concentration in information security management; MBA with a concentration in marketing; MBA with a concentration in sport business. Each program consists of 36 credit hours, the first 18 of which are core courses common to all: Professional development, human resource management, managerial economics, global business management, strategic management and marketing. A seventh core course — financial and managerial accounting — is required of all specialty MBAs, with the exception of accounting. Beyond that, electives are determined by the individual concentration area and are spelled out in detail on Saint Leo's website.

Students may start a program at the beginning of any term throughout the year. And given that there are six accelerated terms each year, it is possible to complete all 36 hours in as little as one year by taking two courses per term; however, studies may be extended for as long as five years. With director approval, students may even pursue up to two MBA concentrations concurrently.

MBA Job Prospects

Good News

While adding the letters "MBA" after your name won't guarantee you a new job (or a promotion in the company where you already have one), the employment prospects for MBA graduates look promising.

According to the most recent data available from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), which annually surveys selected employers about MBA hiring, 75% of companies worldwide plan to hire new MBA graduates in 2013, up from 71% in 2012.

In the U.S., the highest demand for fresh MBA talent will be in the Northeast, where 92% of companies plan to hire recent grads. The South will see a slight decline in MBA hiring (from 78% to 77%), but the region is expected to register the greatest growth for non-MBA business master's graduates.

The strongest demand for MBA grads worldwide will come from two industry sectors: Energy/utilities and health care/pharmaceuticals. Other sectors are expected to increase slightly or hold steady; only manufacturing is predicted to decline.

Another piece of good news: With a median base salary of $95,000 in 2013, MBA graduates continue to command higher starting salaries than other master's graduates in the U.S.

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