This is a gem of an online MBA program, recognized over the years by several independent authorities ranging from The Economist to U.S. News & World Report. Ten years ago, the the school was one of the first to offer a fully accredited online degree. Today, whenever anyone attempts to rank online MBA programs, Florida is high up on the list.
The school actually has two online MBA programs: a 16-month accelerated program for students who already have an undergraduate business degree and graduated within the past seven years, and a 27-month program for everyone else. The shorter option is something of a rarity when it comes to quality online MBA programs. For either option, class size is limited to 65 students and two years of full-time, professional work experience is a prerequisite.
The journey starts with an on-campus, weekend orientation program that includes a reception, program details, a Ropes and Challenge course, and team development exercises. If you opt for the accelerated format, that’s a mandatory one-week review course, called the Foundations Review, right after orientation. Then, you would move into the 32-credit accelerated program.
Students are required to come to the Gainesville, Fla., campus once per term (once every four months) for a Saturday and Sunday. Saturday will end your term and you will take final exams or deliver final presentations. On Sunday you will meet your new faculty members and begin your next term.
During their final term, iMBA students will be required to complete a capstone course that builds upon the key concepts in each of the core business disciplines. The course is designed to show how the various disciplines are interconnected, and will provide the students with “hands-on” opportunities to engage in real-world type problem solving exercises.
There are several courses within the IMBA program that require students to present. The entrepreneurship course presentation assignment will be used to assess student competence and ability to speak in groups and in public clearly, concisely, and analytically, with appropriate use of visual aids. The instructor requires students to present their business plan that they have worked on throughout the semester. The presentation is 10 minutes of presentation with 5 minutes of question and answer. Students present to guest evaluators brought in that include venture capitalists, investors or other local business leaders. The evaluators will score the presentations on clarity, concise presentation, and analysis of the topic.
Both online program options have high standards. For the two-year online program, the most recent class profile posted by UF reports an average GMAT score of 610, an average GPA of 3.2, average work experience of eight years and an average age of 31. For the one-year program, UF says that the average GMAT score is just ten points less, at 600, with an average GPA of 3.3, average work experience of six years and an average age of 28. “Our Internet MBA students come from all over the world and from a variety of organizations – Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, non-profits and more,” says the school.
This is, by and large, a no frills program. Students are not able to concentrate in any specific field. The school says that most students are able to accomplish their schoolwork in 15 to 25 hours a week. The 27-month program requires the completion of 48 credits, while the accelerated program is a 32-credit experience. The degree you’ll earn is a full Master of Business Administration, equivalent to any other MBA degree offered by the University of Florida’s MBA programs.
FORMAT: Online study requiring up to 25 hours of time per week, plus a weekend orientation program followed by weekends on campus every four months
COST: $52,500 for the 27-month program; $46,000 for the 16-month accelerated option
START DATES: Twice a year in January and September for the 27-month program; January and August for the 16-month version
TIME TO COMPLETE: 27 months or 16 month-accelerated option for business undergraduates
PLATFORM REVIEW: When The Economist asked recent graduates of the online MBA programs to assess the effectiveness of the school’s distance learning materials, UF averaged a score of 4.9 on a scale of one to five with five being the highest possible ranking. The online options also scored 4.9 on its student ratings of the program’s “value for money” and the “sense of connection” to the school.
RANKINGS: In 2010, The Economist judged it one of only two “excellent programs,” along with the one at IE Business School in Spain. “Both schools scored well across the board,” the British magazine said in its assessment. “IE’s students, for example, have an average of 13 years of work experience, and although students are spread as widely as Nigeria and Turkmenistan, they also say they feel incredibly connected to the school…It is a similar story at Florida. Although its students have much less work experience than those at IE, they do rate their classmates as being the best of the schools surveyed. They also rave about the quality of the distance-learning materials used by the school. And it, too, scores well on value for money. Both schools also have a low student attrition rate.”
When U.S. News first ranked online MBA programs in January of 2013, Florida was high up on the list: the school finished fourth behind only Washington State, Arizona State and Indiana University.