Sector Portrait: Continuing Education
MBA programs are broadening their reach in an effort to meet student and marketplace demands.
[Photo: Brook Pifer]
As a communications officer aboard a nuclear submarine, Colin Myers, 28, had a difficult time finding one source where he could gather information about local elections in his hometown.
Now, Myers — along with another student and two Navy pals — is launching a website and mobile app called SunVoter designed to be a one-stop source for Floridians who want to know more about candidates — focusing first on Orange County and Orlando.
The site will feature answers to questionnaires, but "there will be no interpretation," says Myers, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, who spent 5½ years in the service. "I really have a passion for entrepreneurship," says Myers, who's concentrating on finance and hopes his venture will provide a valuable service.
In addition, the MBA "provides me with a great way to connect with the Florida business community," he says. "I knew I wanted to live and work in central Florida, and going to school here is a good way to meet people."
[Photo: University of Tampa]
The school added a professional development program that lets students take a course or focus on an area they're particularly interested in under the guidance of an adviser. "It's a good way to create more leeway," he says.
One goal is to expand the study abroad component from 20% in the MBA to 50% in graduate and undergraduate programs within five years.
Ghannadian says the most popular courses are entrepreneurship and specialized courses in finance and marketing.
As for a dean's job, Ghannadian says part of it is to structure an academic program to meet the community's needs. He has a 25-member advisory council made up of executives who help in strategic planning. "It's a good way for the dean to receive ideas," he says.
[Photo: Alex Stafford]
Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud has taught business courses, consulted and worked in pharmaceutical sales and as a systems engineer. Along with her doctorate, she holds an MBA from the school she now guides. "My background has helped me to be able to tailor programs," she says.
Friday-Stroud says she believes in a well-rounded MBA program with exposure to all disciplines of business — management, marketing, accounting, finance, logistics, supply chain and information systems.
In addition to its traditional degree, FAMU launched an online MBA program last fall. Students take most courses online but come to campus for four days at the beginning of the program and do an international residency the last semester.
A MBA degree can translate to about $10,000 more in pay right out of school but brings the biggest benefits two or three years later when students show they have the knowledge and skills to advance, Friday-Stroud says. More important, she says, are the connections they make to other students, faculty and the school's business partners.
In the down economy, the dean has seen more business school students going directly into the MBA program as they wait for the hiring market to improve. "Our alums are getting job offers," Friday-Stroud says. "It might not be the offer they wanted at the salary they wanted. They will see the value once they start moving up."