Online program aims to increase access to a SUNY Oswego MBA

SUNY Oswego will start a new online MBA program in January to enable busy professionals, soldiers stationed at Fort Drum and alumni from Pennsylvania to India to obtain their master’s degrees in business administration.

Alicia Dargan, online MBA applicant.The School of Business will enroll an estimated 20 to 25 students for the MBA degree program’s first semester. That could grow over time to 100, said Richard Skolnik, dean of the School of Business.

“We felt that this was not a large step, it was an incremental step,” said Skolnik, who is in his fourth year as dean. “We had been moving in this direction over a number of years as we had more and more of our classes that were offered in an online format.”

Oswego, the first comprehensive college in the SUNY system to offer an MBA, starting in 1997, has increased the options for obtaining the degree, such as rotating courses between the main campus and the SUNY Oswego Metro Center in downtown Syracuse. Skolnik said the school, working with the Division of Extended Learning, has steadily added online sections of courses to assist students who couldn’t travel.

Last summer, Skolnik and Tammie Sullivan, MBA program director, put together a broad-based campus task force to ensure, among other things, that the online degree would be an equally valuable experience compared with the more traditional one. All of the school’s programs must meet rigorous accreditation standards set by AACSB International—the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Besides improving access to the degree, Skolnik said, “We found the curriculum appropriate. We wanted to maintain rich student-faculty interaction, both from faculty and students. We’ve heard that online courses, in fact, can be more challenging and require more time than an in-classroom course studying the same material.”

Distance learning

The dean and Sullivan provided examples of students in circumstances that make an online MBA an inviting choice.

One member of the task force that studied implementing the program, Skolnik said, was a student who moved to Pennsylvania and wanted to complete her degree online.

And farther afield, Sullivan said, “An alum from India did his undergraduate degree in business administration here and is looking to continue with his MBA (online).”

Initially, the target market will be all of New York state, with a special emphasis on alumni and on offering opportunities to military personnel, Skolnik said.

Sullivan, an Oswego MBA alumna who served in the Navy for 10 years, including three years with the Naval Support Force Antarctica, feels particularly strongly about active and ex-military MBA candidates.

“It’s so important to offer them the opportunity to continue their educations and to advance their careers,” she said. “They pay a huge price, and this is the least we can do to be flexible and help them achieve their goals.”

Tailored to individuals

The MBA program currently enrolls 115 students, a 55 percent increase over last fall, when the school rebranded the program to emphasize its personal, customizable approach.

“Where I start is with the individual,” Sullivan said. “‘Where do you want to be in 10 years and what are your goals?’ It’s a very personalized MBA.”

Oswego’s MBA program is strong—alumni have earned jobs at Neuberger Berman, UBS, PwC and many other top financial services companies—and will benefit from adding an online option, Skolnik said.

“It’s certainly a good step for the School of Business in taking it to another level,” he said.

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PHOTO CAPTION: MBA Online—Alicia Dargan, an applicant for SUNY Oswego’s new online MBA program, prepares for the GMAT, the standard examination for graduate business studies, at the college’s Metro Center in downtown Syracuse. Dargan, recently divorced and a single mother, wants to join 20 to 25 students in the inaugural class seeking to earn an MBA online through the college, starting in January.

(Posted: Oct 14, 2010)

Tags: school of business, online mba, mba, graduate study, extended learning, engagement, continued education