The Face-To-Face Online Degree

“There is a lot going on with alumni clubs and events that I don’t think online students are even considered for at other schools,” says McHale. “The biggest and most active chapter for Syracuse as a whole is based in New York City which also happens to be where many of our students are based. So we have been inviting our admitted January students to events like a wine tasting and a holiday party next week. We are wanting them to feel connected to the community and campus.”


Whitman has a pertinent example in how a 2U-based online degree can work in Kenan-Flagler’s program. The MBA@UNC also boasts weekly video classes, global and local immersions, and networking opportunities. What Kenan-Flagler has also done is to integrate the MBA@UNC students with traditional full-time, executive MBA and masters students.

“We offer a number of electives to all of our students, full-time, part-time, online, executive, that might be project-based or consulting-based,” says Susan Cates, executive director of the MBA@UNC program. “We also integrate those teams with students across the multiple programs.”

The program is known throughout Kenan-Flagler as the “in-person online program” and currently has had students from 47 states and 35 countries. Cates says building relationships and networks are critical to an MBA education and the design of the 2U platform is to do just that. In its three years of existence, MBA@UNC students have started more than 100 clubs such as a veterans club, a women in business club, and real estate club, to name a few. The clubs often host speakers and participate in virtual happy hours. Imagine 15 MBAs, each in their living rooms, sipping on cognac, discussing startup or investment ideas.


“One day, I started getting emails from all of these students in a class saying one of their fellow students was participating in class while she was in labor at the hospital,” Cates says. “We would have obviously given her the class off, but she said it was a long labor and she had already received an epidural.”

Cates says she has had students participate in classes from Gulf of Mexico oil rigs, honeymoons, and family cruises. “I am constantly in awe of the students and commitment and excellence they bring,” Cates says. “They truly have a no-excuses attitude, always give it their all, no matter where they are in the world. We hold them to the same academic standards. And it is no small thing. It adds about 20 extra work hours to their weeks.”

This type of technology doesn’t come cheap. Tuition at MBA@Syracuse is $72,414. Kenan-Flager’s version is $96,775. Nevertheless, Cates believes what Kenan-Flagler offers is rare in that it combines networking, top-notch education, and a prestigious degree all in a flexible package.

“I don’t think we have come anywhere close to exhausting the market for these degrees,” Cates says. “Our program has continued to grow since it began. There are students looking for different things and different types of programs. I expect the market of online programs is not close to fully developed.”


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