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Sector Portrait: Education/MBAs

Rollins College MBA program
Forbes ranks Rollins College’s MBA program best in the state for return on investment.

For Florida colleges and universities, the one constant in MBA programs is that business studies are good business. Most MBA students or their companies pay full tuition, and the schools rarely give scholarships, meaning that the programs “are a profit area for all schools,” says Craig McAllaster, dean of Rollins College’s Crummer Graduate School of Business.

Over the years, that fact has driven a proliferation of programs. Where once the programs served students who typically entered business studies straight out of undergraduate school, today there are curriculums geared for businesspeople at virtually any stage of their careers — the Professional MBA, the Corporate MBA, the Online MBA, the Weekend MBA, the Executive MBA and even an Ibero-AmericanMBA, among others. At the University of Florida, for example, 88% of MBA students are working professionals.

The kind of program in vogue at a given moment tends to depend on the economy, and recent job market conditions have boosted the numbers of those following the traditional path. “It seems that students from undergrad programs are opting for graduate school before trying to apply for jobs in this economy, which gives them both additional education and also the opportunity for internship experience,” says Jaishankar Ganesh, associate dean in the University of Central Florida’s College of Business Administration.

Florida Southern College in Lakeland
Florida Southern College in Lakeland discontinued its MBA for working professionals. The school will launch an accelerated MBA for full-time students in August.

Stetson University’s dean of the School of Business Administration, Stuart Michelson, has seen a similar trend. “Overall MBA enrollment has been on the rise,” he says. “The traditional MBA program on the DeLand campus shows an enrollment jump of more than 40% over last year, while the traditional MBA program at Celebration has grown more than 25%.”

Recent trends also have seen a number of out-of-work professionals — at least those with the financial means —?decide to pursue an MBA.

Gordon Arbogast
Gordon Arbogast, associate dean, Jacksonville University’s Davis College of Business
Meanwhile, some MBA programs for working professionals have struggled to attract middle and senior managers, who are busier than ever at work and finding less corporate financial support because of the recession. This year, Florida Southern College in Lakeland discontinued its MBA for working professionals and is instead launching an accelerated MBA for full-time students in August.

Florida Southern’s vice president for enrollment management, Brad Parrish, says competition from Executive MBA programs in central Florida as well as online programs was one reason for the shift to the full-time program. Kelly Gust, associate director of MBA programs at the University of Florida, adds that working professionals also are concerned that if they start a program and then lose their jobs, they’ll lose their corporate financial support and might even have to move to find a new job.


Frank Ghannadian
Frank Ghannadian, dean of the University of Tampa’s business school.

Jacksonville University’s Gordon Arbogast, associate dean in the Davis College of Business, is optimistic that the climate for working professionals’ programs is improving, noting, “Corporate support was pulled last year but appears to be making a comeback this year.”

Does an MBA still produce its major aim —?career advancement? “We still have companies calling looking for graduates,” says Rollins College’s McAllaster, adding, “They’re calling us with specific needs.” Frank Ghannadian, dean of the Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa, adds a caveat. “Full-time students and those using our career services have reported the same level of success as before,” he says. “I believe some of these jobs may be less financially rewarding or students’ expectations have gone down due to the weak economy.”


» Barry University — Andreas School of Business

Barry University - Andreas School of Business
Barry University’s MBA progarm teaches social values.
Location: Miami Shores

Curriculum: Evening MBA program for part-time or full-time students

Notable: The private, Catholic school focuses on its Dominican tradition. “Our MBA graduates are prepared to make decisions and establish policies where nobler — social and ethical — values would never give preference to greed,” says Tomislav Mandakovic, dean of Barry University’s Andreas School of Business.


» Florida Atlantic University — College of Business

Fau's College of Business trading room
FAU’s College of Business has a trading room for students.

Location: Boca Raton

Curriculum: Traditional, Weekend and Executive MBA programs

Notable: FAU's Executive MBA is a 23-month program that meets every third weekend on Saturdays and Sundays. The program is designed for working professionals and starts in August and January every year. FAU also offers an 18-month Weekend MBA that meets every Saturday and starts every June. It is designed for newly employed, recent business graduates. The primary MBA specialization for these 40-credit-hour programs is international business, but alternative specializations are available.


» Florida Gulf Coast University — Lutgert College of Business

Location: Fort Myers

Curriculum: Traditional, Executive MBA

Notable: All foundation courses and core courses in the regular MBA program are available online. “If a student were to miss a class due to travel or professional commitments, the online support for work at a distance would mean that nothing would be missed from the learning experience,” says Stephen Drew, FGCU’s director of the Center for Leadership and Innovation.


» Florida Institute of Technology — Nathan M. Bisk College of Business

Location: Melbourne and nine additional locations

Curriculum: Traditional, MBA Online and extended studies program with MBA classes at military and space-related facilities in five states

Notable: A two-course sequence on the Essentials of Business substitutes for the standardized GMAT entrance examination, says MaryEllen Roy, director of marketing. “Students can begin immediately after these courses to take the MBA core and electives.”

» Florida International University — Chapman Graduate School of Business

Location: Downtown Miami, Pembroke Pines

Curriculum: Evening, International, Downtown, Professional, Executive, Corporate and Healthcare MBAs

Notable: “What we believe sets us apart is the fact that we are indeed offering many convenient options for people — during the week, on Saturdays, in the evenings ... at our main campus in downtown Miami, in Pembroke Pines ... even fully online,” says Joyce Elam, executive dean of the College of Business Administration, which houses the Chapman school.


» Florida Southern College — School of Business

Location: Lakeland

Curriculum: 16-month Accelerated MBA with a guaranteed internship

Notable: “The new MBA is an accelerated, cohort-based, high value for the price, full-time MBA with an emphasis on integrating soft skills, work experience and the international business environment,” says Larry Ross, coordinator of graduate programs in business at Florida Southern.


» Florida State University — College of Business

Location: Tallahassee

Curriculum: Accelerated, Online MBA, Joint JD/MBA and Master of Social Work/MBA

Notable: In the Global Business Seminar, students “spend the semester researching a destination country and international commerce and then spend a week in that country touring businesses and experiencing a new culture,” says Melanie Yeager, director of graduate programs.


» Jacksonville University — Davis College of Business

Location: Jacksonville

Curriculum: Accelerated, Flex and Executive, Joint JD/MBA in partnership with the Florida Coastal School of Law

Notable: Dean Gordon Arbogast points to the eight-week modules as an attractive feature. In addition to traditional academics, there’s a focus on professional development, including communications skills, team leadership and mentors.

» Northwestern University — Kellogg School of Management

Location: Coral Gables

Curriculum: Executive MBA for students who are employed and have a minimum of eight to 10 years of work experience

Notable: Northwestern’s MBA is consistently at the top of rankings published by the Economist, Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and others. The program’s Global Initiatives in Management program includes five weeks of classroom study on the culture, economic climate and business conditions of a selected country followed by a research trip to the country.


» Nova Southeastern — H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship

Nova Southeastern team consulting
Nova expects MBA students to participate as team members in consulting assignments.

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Miami, Miramar, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa

Curriculum: Full-Time MBA, MBA in Entrepreneurship, MBA for Working Professionals, Dual JD/MBA

Notable: The MBA in Entrepreneurship prepares students to create business plans, participate as a team member in consulting assignments, build a portfolio, evaluate and purchase existing businesses and start their own businesses.


» Palm Beach Atlantic University — Rinker School of Business

Location: West Palm Beach

Curriculum: 36-credit-hour MBA

Notable: Palm Beach Atlantic’s 36-credit-hour MBA program is designed for working professionals who prefer to take evening classes. Students can complete the program in 15 or 24 months depending on their needs and time commitments. Twelve hours of undergraduate prerequisites in accounting, statistics and economics are required. Rinker Dean David Smith says that small classes and faculty members with extensive real-world industry experience make Palm Beach Atlantic stand out. Also, the curriculum intertwines business education and Christian principles.

» Rollins College — Crummer Graduate School of Business

Location: Winter Park

Curriculum: Early Advantage, Key Executive, Professional and Saturday MBAs

Notable: Forbes magazine ranks the school’s MBA first in Florida in terms of return on investment. “You go to some schools and their career development is campuswide. We focus on the business school,” says dean Craig McAllaster. Crummer graduates can refresh their skills at no cost by taking classes after they graduate.


» Saint Leo University — School of Business

Location: St. Leo (Pasco County), Atlanta and Chesapeake, Va.

Curriculum: Saint Leo does not offer a full-time MBA. Instead it focuses on working professionals including military personnel who take classes online or on the weekend.

Notable: The general 36-credit-hour program allows students to earn their degree in as little as one year. The online MBA and weekend MBA both offer a general MBA or specializations in accounting, healthcare management, human resources management, information security management, marketing and sport business. Specialization courses are only offered online. Saint Leo offers a values-infused curriculum, says dean Michael Nastanski. “In every class we have values-based exercises. We’ve been doing that since day one,” he says, adding, “We’re different that way.”


» Stetson University — School of Business Administration

Stetson University offers MBA students small class sizes.

Location: DeLand, Celebration, Gulfport

Curriculum: Traditional, Executive MBA program at Celebration for students with significant professional experience, JD/MBA program at the College of Law in Gulfport

Notable: “Stetson University is committed to providing students the academic focus and tools they need to succeed by personalizing their educational experience by providing an academic adviser and small class sizes,” says dean Stuart Michelson.

» University of Central Florida — College of Business Administration

Location: Orlando; Professional MBA offered on a rotating basis at UCF’s regional campuses in Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Volusia and Seminole counties.

Curriculum: One-Year MBA, Lockstep Evening, Professional, Executive MBA

Notable: Associate dean Jaishankar Ganesh notes that the Princeton Review named UCF’s MBA among the nation’s top 10 “best administered” programs, the only business school in Florida to receive this ranking.


» University of Florida — Hough Graduate School of Business

University of Florida
UF offers nine MBA programs.

Location: Gainesville

Curriculum: Nine MBA programs, including Full-Time, Online, Professional and Executive

Notable: UF offers MBA programs to meet the needs of almost any student with any schedule requirements. The school’s programs have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, the Financial Times and other publications.


» University of Miami — School of Business

Location: Coral Gables

Curriculum: Traditional, One-Year, Executive, MBA for Working Professionals, JD/MBA and MD/MBA; also a Spanish-language, dual-degree master’s of science in professional management/MBA designed for Latin American professionals and south Floridians who prefer learning in Spanish

Notable: The first year of UM’s Executive MBA is a lockstep program, but in the second year students can take electives that help them with their specific career goals. This same formula is used for the MBA for Working Professionals.

» University of North Florida — Coggin College of Business

Cheryl Campbell
Location: Jacksonville

Curriculum: Traditional; GlobalMBA offered together with three universities in Germany, Poland and China; Ibero-AmericanMBA offered with universities in Argentina and Spain

Notable: UNF’s international focus is what makes its MBA programs stand out, says Cheryl Campbell, the school’s director of student services.


» University of South Florida — College of Business

University of South Florida - Tampa
USF Tampa requires MBA students to have work experience before enrolling.
Location: Tampa

Curriculum: Traditional MBA, Executive

Notable: “We are the only one in the area that requires professional working experience for MBA admission. Most of our students have at least four years’ experience,” and the figure is even higher for the Executive MBA program, says Robert Forsythe, business school dean.

» University of South Florida St. Petersburg — College of Business

Location: St. Petersburg

Curriculum: A 36-credit, 12-month program

Notable: USF St. Petersburg’s program is designed either for students with or without undergraduate business degrees. Students who hold non-business degrees take MBA Essentials, a one-semester, non-credit program that mixes online and classroom learning of basic business concepts. Electives, which make up 18 of the 36 credits, are offered in accounting, international management, marketing, economics and finance. “USF St. Petersburg has one of the few MBA programs in the South that emphasizes the study of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and ethics as principal themes,” says dean Maling Ebrahimpour.

» University of South Florida Polytechnic — Division of Business

Location: Lakeland

Curriculum: A full-time, day program

Notable: Students can complete the program in 16 months. It requires a business degree within the past six years. The 37-credit curriculum offers specializations in marketing, management and entrepreneurship. “Our students in the MBA program will work very closely with our business incubators to apply classroom learning to real problems,” says Jennifer Beyer, assistant director of enrollment management for USF Polytechnic.


» University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee — College of Business

Location: Sarasota

Curriculum: Professional MBA

Notable: The Sarasota Professional MBA is a 48-credit-hour program designed for working professionals. Students use case studies, experiential learning, group projects and presentations along with traditional lectures. Classes meet on Saturdays for two years. An undergraduate degree in business is not required. The program begins in January each year. “All admitted MBA students are required to have at least two years of full-time work experience, and all MBA classes are held on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus on Saturdays only,” says public relations coordinator Crystal Rothhaar.


» University of Tampa — John H. Sykes College of Business

Location: Tampa

Curriculum: Full-Time, Part-Time and Saturday MBA for business leaders

Notable: “Our MBA is unique in that we have very small classes of only 20 to 30 and our professors emphasize real practical issues,” says dean Frank Ghannadian. “All our graduates work on a real world case project at the end of their program, and we emphasize technology.”

» University of West Florida — College of Business

Locations: Pensacola, Emerald Coast campuses (Fort Walton Beach, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, W.E. Combs Campus, Crestview) and Ludwigshafen, Germany

Curriculum: “Finish in Five” MBA, dual master’s program offers an MBA from UWF and a master’s of science in management from Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands; Germany MBA for German professionals in partnership with two German universities

Notable: “The Finish in Five MBA is designed to provide both a general view of business and a specialized focus through an industry portfolio,” says Melissa Brode, assistant MBA director.

Go to LinksTopRank: Buy a comprehensive list that includes MBA program costs, enrollments and more for each school.

For Profit Colleges and Universities

» University of Phoenix

Locations: 16 Florida locations

Curriculum: On-campus and online MBAs


» Keiser University

Locations: 14 Florida locations

Curriculum: On-campus and online MBAs


» DeVry University — Keller Graduate School of Management

Locations: Eight Florida locations

Curriculum: MBA classes evenings, weekends or online