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Sept. 15, 2011 Volume 33, No. 4

College of Business announces new executive MBA program


execMBA is aimed at working professionals

MU’s Trulaske College of Business is preparing to expand its Master of Business Administration into a “hybrid” program that combines online learning with face-to-face interaction.

The new Missouri execMBA program is aimed at full-time professionals who want to earn their MBA without leaving their jobs. The inaugural class, which will begin coursework in 2012, will be comprised of about 35 students who can earn their degrees in 21 months.

The core courses will be identical to those in the college’s full-time Crosby MBA program, taught by the same professors. However, unlike their full-time counterparts, execMBA students will be enrolled in a lock-step curriculum, meaning they will take an assigned set of courses with the same group of people throughout the program. There is also a decidedly global focus, including a mandatory international component in which students will fulfill an eight- to 10-day residency abroad.

Joe Stephens, director of MBA programs, said developing the execMBA was in response to a demand for more flexibility from working professionals.

“At least for the past three years that I’ve been here, there have been significant inquiries about part-time options,” Stephens said. “People want to maintain their current position but still earn an MBA.”

The program will be a hybrid of online and classroom formats, with students meeting in person every six to eight weeks. Stephens said this mix of digital and face-to-face interaction is gaining popularity among executive MBA programs, and that MU is on the leading edge of it.

“We didn’t feel comfortable just going 100 percent online,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that as we developed this, that there was still direct interaction. The human element is still very important in business.”

If national trends are any indication, the program should fare well. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, executive MBA programs reported the largest upswing in applications in 2010 compared to other MBA options, despite a decrease in funding from employers.

MU’s version comes with a price tag of $65,000, which includes tuition, books and the international field component. That’s similar to the cost of other schools’ executive MBA programs, said Stephens, who believes the flexibility of MU’s program will allow it compete with other accredited institutions in Missouri and beyond.

The execMBA advisory board, faculty and business partners are still ironing out the details of how each course will be run. Faculty members are being approached to see if they would be interested in taking on the extra course load, for which they would be paid in addition to what they earn for their usual schedule of courses.

Finance professor John Howe said he has offered to convert one of his courses into the execMBA curriculum. While he does not know which course will be chosen, he’s been preparing by strengthening his knowledge of technology. He’s attended a seminar on converting classroom coursework into an online format, and he’s learning to be more conversant with his iPad. “I’m pretty sure that it will be a tool that we will be using,” he said. “I’m just trying to get ahead of the curve on that.”

Mizzou Online is helping to develop the online component of the execMBA courses. Jim Spain, vice provost of eLearning, said he doesn’t foresee any problems developing the digital coursework. Mizzou Online plans to hire a full-time specialist to work with ET@MO on the online courses, he said.

“The nice thing about this is that it’s an existing program,” Spain said. “We’re just converting it to a different mode of delivery.”

The program will begin accepting applications in January 2012, but has already begun its “soft launch.” Stephens said the program is gaining momentum through ads in the St. Louis and Kansas City business journals, and through social outlets such as Facebook.

“[Responses] have been extremely positive so far, and we just publically announced the program in the past few weeks,” Stephens said. “People have been requesting something like this for a long time.”

— Megan Cassidy