Business Explores New Directions for MBA
The College of Business is the other major benefactor of the largest private gift in NMU history. While the Berry Scholarship is geared toward incoming freshmen, the college is also exploring new initiatives that will make its Master of Business Administration (MBA) program more flexible, competitive and sustainable.
One is a Momentum MBA now available to all NMU students, regardless of major. They can minor in business as a springboard to completing an MBA in three semesters (or four, should they choose to pursue a concentration in their undergraduate areas). For example, an art major can earn an MBA that would emphasize a business strategy for effectively creating, marketing and selling her wares.
“Most companies, including Procter & Gamble, look for an MBA accompanied by an undergraduate degree in liberal arts,” said Dean Jamal Rashed (Business). “They want employees who can think critically, have a broad perspective and are easy to train. Our strategy in the College of Business is to benefit every student on campus, not just those whose academic majors fall under our umbrella.”
On a related note, the college is considering an MBA Plus, which would allow students to earn 12-15 credits beyond the core MBA program in concentrations such as health management or sports administration. The former would be fueled by the university’s highly regarded nursing program and its ties to Marquette General Health System.
A third idea is to move from the original 10-course, 40-credit-hour format to 12 courses worth 36 credit hours. The change goes into effect in August. Five MBA classes are being offered this fall, including a three-hour elective in entrepreneurship taught by Dr. Matthew Songer, the founder of Pioneer Surgical. An elective planned for the winter 2012 semester will cover global banking and macroeconomics.
“For NMU to compete and attract highly qualified students, our MBA needs to be more adaptive,” said Rashed. “The 40 hours can be somewhat rigid. But the revised format allows students to pick up some electives and perhaps a study-abroad course, yet complete the degree in three semesters instead of two years."
Program Director David Rayome (Business) agrees that international experience is important to an MBA, whether that involves NMU students taking classes or pursuing internships overseas, or foreign students coming to campus and sharing their cultural perspectives related to the global economy. “We plan to develop more opportunities along that line in the future,” he said.
Enrollment in the MBA program grew from 21 students in its inaugural fall semester to 30 for the winter semester. Rayome said a majority are professionals seeking advancement in their fields, while others are retraining or were dislocated from their previous jobs. A handful of students are recent graduates choosing to continue their education to obtain higher credentials before entering the workforce.
“It’s off to a good start,” said Rayome. “We have a fascinating mix of students representing different ages and career paths. But the program has to be fluid and dynamic so that it meets the needs of students. We are exploring ways to mold it so that it has distinguishable features that are highly marketable to prospective students.”
ITV has been used sparingly so that students can enjoy real-time instruction without having to traverse U.P. roads in the winter. Rayome said distance education is becoming more popular and the College of Business is actively investigating technologies that will extend to more locations and at a greater distance.
"This effort moves in the direction of online classes," he said. "Online classes may begin in the next couple of years, but a complete online MBA remains a distant goal.
For more information on the program, visit www.nmu.edu/mba.