Sector Portrait: Continuing Education
MBA programs are broadening their reach in an effort to meet student and marketplace demands.
As the economy struggles to rebound, Florida's universities are working harder to attract students to their MBA programs.
Schools are adding international components to their programs, including more study abroad, and recruiting international faculty who bring global perspective and business cases to the classroom.
Deans at Florida's business schools say they are tailoring curriculum to meet demands of both the market and the students. Strong growth in Florida's healthcare sector has led Florida International University and the University of Miami to offer MBA programs in healthcare management. Nova Southeastern University in Davie now offers a concentration in information security management, among other specialties.
Online/hybrid programs also are becoming more popular, providing instruction over the internet along with some classroom learning. Saint Leo University in Pasco County launched its first online MBA using this model last fall.
Across the state there also are more partnership programs in which students can earn two master's degrees at the same time. Jacksonville University, for instance, has a joint MBA/master of nursing.
By definition, an MBA is a generalized degree, "but schools recognize employers are looking for some degree of specialization," says Dan LeClair, executive vice president and COO of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a Tampa-based global accrediting organization.
One popular specialty is entrepreneurship. "Students in particular are looking for opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills to start a business," LeClair says.
He also noted that more Florida universities with MBA programs are offering courses at locations outside their home base. "The boundaries have been blurred," he says.
Rebecca Menditto juggles a full-time job, extracurricular activities and MBA courses at the University of North Florida.
The 24-year-old University of Florida graduate, originally from Lakeland, moved to Jacksonville from Washington, D.C., where she had a hotel management job.
She goes to class two nights a week and expects to graduate next year. "For someone with a full-time job, it's great to have evening classes. You can fit it into your schedule," says Menditto, who is a sales assistant at Cox Media Group and an officer in UNF's business fraternity.
Headed for a career in sales, she enjoys the challenge of work and school. "It is a ton of fun, and you meet so many people," Menditto says. "What keeps me going is having great mentors and leaders."
[Photo: Will Dickey]