Backstage With UMASS, Jack Welch, U of Denver & William & Mary’s Online MBA

Online MBA programs at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Isenberg School of Management, Jack Welch Management Institute, William & Mary’s Mason School of Business, and the University of Denver Daniels College of Business are some of the best and most exciting currently on the market.

They are truly modern-day programs that offer students plenty of flexibility as well as opportunities to push forward in their careers. Check out this panel where representatives from each school talk in detail about what sets their individual programs apart, how they are structured, connections students make with each other and alumni, and career services offered to online MBA students.

The fully edited transcript of the panel is below.

John A. Byrne: Hi there this is John Byrne with Poets and Quants. You’re about to watch a video live stream event that we held in August of 2020 with key players in the online MBA space. But before it starts, I just wanted to let you know that we have an incredible resource of information and now with this on online MBA programs from rankings to profiles of individual schools, to how much they cost to whether they require GMATs or GREs and a wealth of other information to help you make a really good and smart decision about which program to pursue. If you want to avail yourself of all those resources, go to in the nav bar you’ll see a little tab for online MBAs, go there or you can go direct to /online-mba-hub/ backspace at We’re looking forward to seeing you. Enjoy the video.

Nathan Allen: Hello, my name is Nathan Allen and I’m a staff writer at Poets and Quants. Thank you for coming to join this next panel on our virtual online MBA admissions events. We’ve got four, just really fantastic schools here. Some that have been around for a while, some that have launched their online programs more recently. So I’m really excited about the differences that we have here and diversity in programs that we do have. So we’ll do a quick introduction of the panelists that we have here. And then we’ll get into it. So from the University of Massachusetts, the Isenberg School of Management, we have Traci Hess, who is the associate dean of graduate and professional programs. Welcome, Traci. From the Jack Welch Management Institute, we have Mehgan Rogers, who is the chief marketing officer. And then from the William and Mary Mason School, we have Kevin Holmes who the director of admissions and enrollment management. And from the University of Denver, we have Kenny Metcalfe, who is the assistant director of enrollment management and academic advising. Welcome, everyone. So let’s, let’s start with the basics then. There are a lot of MBA, online MBA programs on the market. So the question is when did you all first come online and what are some things that differentiate your program just from a structural point and how students kind of go through the program? Traci, we’ll, we’ll start with you. And the University of Massachusetts, it’s, it’s one of the programs that I really like mainly because of the price point of it. It’s one of the least expensive ones on the market right now.

Traci Hess: Right we’re also one of the older ones on the market, the Isenberg Online MBA was started in 2001, and we have over 1400 students enrolled today. Going back to your questions, what I think differentiates our program from other programs, really reflects on the personal touch that our advisors give to the program, our flexibility, and our program structure. Whether you’re someone who is trying to advance in your career and you have a full-time career and are seeking one or two classes per semester, or whether you’re someone who hopes to complete the program more quickly, our program is set up to accommodate that and our advisors are available to help students determine what’s the best path forward for them, the best fit for their individual needs.

Allen: Right and I know you all are 100% online, but you have some options for students to meet on some of your campuses. How, how does that work?

Hess: So we do have some say hybrid programs that we, we call it where students have the opportunity in the area, you know, within the region to say, attend five classes on-site. And then the rest are delivered online. And we also are able to synchronously broadcast those sessions. In addition, a feature of our program, even though it’s mostly online is that our faculty that teach in our on-campus program are the same faculty that teach in our online program. So there’s a lot of coordinated efforts there. Even our affiliated experts from industry that help teach some of our curriculum, they also tend to teach across both the on-campus and the online program.

Allen: Great, thanks. And Mehgan, Jack Welch, I believe is one of the newer programs that we have here on the panel, but correct me if I’m wrong there. And it’s also one of the biggest, I believe with nearly 2000 students enrolled.

Mehgan Rodgers: Well, you’re right on one account. Yes, we are currently at 2000 students and 2000 alumni, but we’ve actually been around for over 10 years. So we were actually one of the earlier embracers of the online format. And in fact, we never had an on-ground program. So from the get-go, you know, we embraced that structure, you know, for our curriculum and our students.

Allen: Great and can you tell us about, you know, synchronous versus asynchronous, how’s your program set up? What does that stuff even mean?

Rodgers: Yeah no, that’s a good question. People don’t know what asynchronous means, but I mean, I think it’s emblematic of everybody on this panel. You know, 10 years ago when we started, there wasn’t as many options for MBAs, you know, people wanting to get their MBA. And now there’s pretty much every type of hybrid format out there. But, you know, specifically, we’ve always been dedicated to serving, working adults who are interested in going back to get their degree. And so everything that we do is really designed around that service format. And one of those is really our asynchronous structure. So really what that means is there is no live component to the program, in terms of the academic requirements. You don’t have to log into class at a certain time. But you do have, you know, in terms of the way that the program is structured, there are certain, you know, gates that you have to hit every single week on Wednesdays and Sundays. But, you know, again for, for a working professional online is great. But if they’re still, you know, for many, even if there’s a requirement to log in at seven, you know, on a Thursday night, they’re still not going to be able to do that. And so, you know, that’s really the way that our program is structured, but we do have opportunities, you know, at least two to three times every week across our broader curriculum with live sessions that are supplemental to the curriculum. So, you know, within your own class, you know, you’re working with the other 19 individuals who are enrolled. We do keep our class sizes relatively small, but you do have the opportunity to interact with other people at different points in the program, as well as in other subject areas in the supplemental live sessions that happen every single week.

Allen: Great thanks. Kevin, we’ll move to you next at William and Mary. And some of our reporting I believe that if I remember this correctly, that the online MBA was not only the first online degree at the Mason School but the entire William and Mary college, is that correct? And then when did you all come online?

Kevin Holmes: That is absolutely correct. Actually, with the coming from an institution with 327 years of history, you’d be surprised our online MBA program is only five years old. We are, we’re actually celebrating our five year anniversary this coming fall, where we started with a cohort of about 30 students. In that five-year time span, the program has grown to over 400 students. We’ve graduated over 280 alumni, alums from our program as well. And I would say students select William and Mary’s online MBA because of the fact that the program is a general MBA, but it’s founded in design thinking. And we believe that as a principle, business leaders and to become more agile in the marketplace, there has to be a concept where creativity meets possibility. As it relates to solving complex problems within particular industries. But yeah, five years, five year birthday coming this fall.

Allen: Happy birthday. What a time to be celebrating the birthday too during the current climate. Thanks, Kevin for that. Kenny, how about at Denver? When did you all come online and what’s kind of the basic structure of the program there?

Kenny Metcalfe: Yeah we are, we’re relatively new. We are in three of the program. We had our first intake of students back in January of 2018. We are on the quarter system so we have four intakes per year. So yeah, we’re in year three, we, we have about 375 active students. So we have grown fairly quickly, which is exciting. And we had our first group of alums graduate this past fall, fall 2019. And so we’re really excited about that. We’re currently at about 67 alums and I’m expecting another 28 or so this summer. So this month, so we’ll be right around a hundred alums, which is exciting, getting them involved on that front. I would say in terms of program differentiators, a couple of things I would mention, we do have required in person what we call immersions. And these are on ground in-person events that cover a weekend in which students come together, they meet each other, they network, they really ramp up their relationship-building component that we think is really important in an MBA program. Two of those are required in order to graduate and students have, have really, really relished the opportunity to get to know each other in a person, in-person setting. I’d also mentioned in terms of our curriculum, we have a very interactive and engaging learning environment. We do have required live sessions for our classes. Each class has a 90-minute live session each week. And these are in the evenings to accommodate working professionals, which our program certainly caters to. But these are opportunities for students to come together and talk about the asynchronous work they did leading up to the live session, interact with each other, share ideas and perspectives. Of course, the instructor is present, to moderate those discussions. And we liked that approach and think it really enriches the learning environment. And then the other thing I would mention is our goal is to make students indispensable to their organizations. So we really shot at delivering a curriculum that has real-world and real-time applicability. And so students are learning the asynchronous content during the week, talking about it in live sessions. And then we hope that the very next day in their place of employment in their organization, they’re able to apply what they’ve learned. We call it a challenge-driven education, but it’s about real-time and real-world applicability.

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