Backstage With USC Marshall, NC State, Florida International & Lehigh’s Online MBA

Marshall School entrance

Allen: Yeah, thank you. So one of the big things that our readership really wants to know about is the type of students that you all are admitting into your programs. What stage are they in their careers or lives? What industries are they coming from? So can you all give me details about your class profiles, this year and if that’s changed any from previous years and just kind of a breakdown of the type of students that you’re admitting. And Jen, we’ll start with you this time.

Arthur: Sure. So for our program, we’re seeing students from a variety of backgrounds, I would say. Traditionally, we’ve seen mostly students coming from an undergrad degree in business or engineering, but that started to change a little bit, especially when we added our RTQ location, which is surrounded by some great research company. So I think now we’re seeing a lot more students coming from the sciences. But I would say it’s absolutely a diverse group in terms of that and the work experience. The average is about 10 years for our students in the online program. We’re seeing an average GPA of about a 3.2 coming into the program. There’s a mix of students who may already have a graduate degree, some who don’t, several students who were first-gen college students coming into the program. We’ve got about 40% women in our online MBA program. And about 25% or so are underrepresented minorities. And I think the students coming in as far as where they are in their career, a lot of people are wanting to move up within the company where they already are. We certainly see some who wanna be career changers and our career management center can help people with that. But for the most part, I would say it’s people who kind of like the company that they’re with and they want to move up there. They’re not sure how to do it. Maybe they lack the vocabulary. They wanna see it at the table. They want to be able to solve some of the problems or challenges that they’re seeing in their company. And so they’re looking for an MBA to help with that. And then we also get some who are hoping to start their own company, either soon or a little bit later down the line. And so they’re coming in to study entrepreneurship specifically for that reason.

Allen: Great, thank you. And Angel we’ll move to you next. What are the class profiles looking like these days at Florida International?

Burgos: Very well. It’s very similar to what Jen just described. We started out our program primarily with students who had an undergraduate degree in business and engineering, but that has slowly evolved. And it now represents the diversity of South Florida and the industries in South Florida. So we do have a number of people and students from the healthcare industry, from hospitality, supply chain technology. We even have a few lawyers in our program who are looking to make it into a different facet of their companies. Like Jen, we have a strong diversity. 48% of our students are female and 52% are male, we’re particularly proud of that. Because we’re in South Florida of course 55% of our students are Hispanic and close to a 17% are African American. Another element of foreign international university where we’d like to say international and diversity is in our middle name. The average age for this program is 33, with work experience ranging from seven to eight years and GPA undergraduate of 3.2. And like Jen, we’re seeing more, more majors or different majors than before on. Some science majors and sociology majors, communications majors as well. And I think that reflects the diversity of the industries that we have here in South Florida. But also the number there’s not one set industry down here. So they come from all walks of life.

Allen: Great. Thank you. Mary Theresa, we’ll move to you next. How about Lehigh?

Taglang: Sure, thanks. Well, Lehigh has always been known as a very strong engineering school. So we’ve pretty consistently had almost 60% of backgrounds in engineering or sciences in our program. And that’s for the past 20 years since I’ve been involved with Lehigh. So it remains that way at least through last year. And now we’re seeing a little bit of a change coming into this year with a younger, a more diverse applicant. I mean I think it’s reflected on some of the things that Angel was saying that they’re reevaluating what they will do and this is a perfect time to do it. Right now our average age is 34. Our average GPA is 3.39. We’ve not quite nine years of work experience. Our GMAC is very strong of course, given by the fact that we do have the strong science and technology engineering background. So that’s a 629. And we attract a lot of individuals with a prior master’s degrees and terminal degrees. So it’s not unusual to run into many PhDs, MDs, JDs who come into the program who want to leverage what they have in perhaps another way to be able to understand holistically how business works. So we have a lot of relationships with organizations. The Lehigh Valley was a heavily industrialized area for quite a long time. Because we are now not limited to the Lehigh Valley, we certainly see a lot of pharmaceuticals individuals from those companies who are coming into the program. So we have the diversity of backgrounds. You all sound a little bit better than we do in terms of women in the program. We’d like to see more women in the program, but that’s been growing, which is a real plus. So that’s pretty much how it looks.

Allen: Great. Thank you, Mary Theresa. And Terri, how about, how about USC? How is the class looking now and how does that compare to 2015 whenever you all first launched?

Ignoffo: Sure, sure. So the program, because it’s a holistic MBA, it obviously attracts a variety of different backgrounds. So certainly diversity in terms of academic and professional background. The top five industry is currently were technology, engineering, entertainment, media, finance, and banking. And recently just over the past year or two healthcare and biotech has kind of creeped up and being in the top five industries represented. But again, at diverse backgrounds, we have some IDs lawyers in the program, consultants, marketing entrepreneurs quite a few as well. So definitely a diverse background there. Years of work experience on average is 10 years full time professional relevant work experience. Again, we have some that are in that three to eight-year range. Some that have well over 15 years of experience, that kind of talk an averages would be 10 years. Average age is currently at 35. Undergrad GPA average is 3.25. Cumulative GMAC is currently at a 630 and the GRE is currently at a 314. So those are some of the averages there. Most of our students are from the Southern California area. But we do also have some strong representation on the East Coast as well as the Midwest. So we are also geographically dispersed as well. So those, yeah, that’s sort of some of the averages. Women, the last statistic, I had to grab that to pull that out 34% and that obviously could have changed. All of these averages did not include the fall term that actually had just started this week. So there could be some modifications to that in over the next couple of weeks. So this is just data from all the way through our spring of 2020 term.

Allen: Okay, great. Thank you. And a heads up Angel. This next question is coming at you first. So just to prepare. So beyond the numbers whenever you all are looking at candidates and thinking about the culture that you’re trying to build in your program, what are some things that you’re looking for fit? And this goes beyond the numbers and into the actual person. And then how do you all evaluate that fit?

Burgos: It’s a great question. We take a holistic approach to admissions I’m sure, like my colleagues here as well. So we try to look at your entire history as a candidate, your professional experience. We do place a heavy emphasis on the type of work or the quality of the work experience. So we’re looking for people who are either on the management track or in a management position within their company or within their field. Oftentimes we do have an interview if for student, for some reason, they’re debating between different types of programs. We’d like to meet with them and have a discussion about what their goals are, where they see themselves. And we wanna make sure that it’s a good fit from an environmental perspective. Online education it’s a really disciplinary and oftentimes people think it’s easier and it’s really a lot harder. And it takes somebody who is driven, who knows how to manage their time and who can sort of balance all of that. So we do that through the admissions process, through the interview stage and also through the essays, but also through the work experience and the recommendation letters.

Allen: Great, thanks. Mary Theresa, what about at Lehigh? What sort of culture are you all trying to build there? And then how is that evaluated and how does that manifest in the actual admissions process?

Taglang: We’ve been so fortunate over the past years to have admitted very, very strong students who are also very, very good people. And that creates a culture in and of itself. So when we look at those kinds of students or those kinds of applicants to the program, we wanna see who’s motivated. Well, what does motivated mean? Do they follow directions? Do they, do they submit everything on time? Do they have a lot of interaction with us? Do they ask us about individuals in the program who they can talk to? We wanna know what their level of interest is so that we can determine how they’re going to be as alumni. And one of the best things that happens with our students as they graduate is that they are absolutely the first to say, how can I help you? Who do you want me to talk to? Who do you want me to work with as a prospective student? So naturally, while we look for many of the same things that my colleagues here have mentioned, career progression, what are their recommenders saying about them? Have their recommenders identified them as individuals who have high potential? And have they been given increased responsibility? Maybe even if they have not yet been promoted. If they can talk about that, that’s a real big plus as well. And are they just engaged and involved throughout the whole process? Are they clear on what they wanna do? Or are they fuzzy about not knowing? So those who have a pretty good idea of where they wanna head, how they wanna get there, are those individuals who are gonna be more successful.

Allen: Great, thanks. And Terri, we’ll move to you next. How about USC? What does it look like there?

Ignoffo: Yeah, for sure. So USC is definitely holistic approach when looking evaluating and making those admissions decisions, obviously demonstrating both academic and professional success in terms of demonstrating the readiness to be ready for graduate-level coursework and making sure they have the aptitude needed to be successful in the program. I mean, this is a pretty intense rigorous program to get completed in 21 months. So that definitely is taken into account. But not only that, it’s are the learning outcomes in alignment with what the applicants looking at doing longterm. It needs to be a mutual fit there. Somebody could have shown academic success, but if it’s just not a good fit that’s definitely a key component that is looked at with those decisions. So what value add does the applicant have to the cohort and to the network itself? So and a lot of that is demonstrated I think with our admissions essays, the first one asks about your short term and longterm goals and how they feel that USC’s program can help them fulfill those goals. And the second one I think is really telling to just diversity and collaboration, which is kind of one of the kind of key components of the program is to maintain this high level of interaction and collaboration. So it asks about diverse experiences coming to the program and what they’re looking at gaining or learning from the cohort in general. So definitely for being an online program, we do pride ourselves in that interaction. And like I had mentioned at the top of the hour, it said a very project-based program too. So enabling and being able to work amongst teams is definitely gonna be crucial in the program too. And just like Mary Theresa and we’ve been great candidates coming in and we’ve got a solid retention, graduation rates and obviously have a strong reputation in terms of the alumni association. So we’re looking forward to continuing to build that diversity and just strong caliber of a student. One other thing to quant the program is pretty quantitative in nature. So showing some type of quantitative analytics skill sets, whether that be from an academic standpoint or what they’ve done professionally is definitely competitive due to the nature of the curriculum.

Allen: Great, thanks. And then Jen, how about at NC State?

Arthur: Yeah, I really have to agree with my colleagues on everything that they said for us at NC State, it’s absolutely a holistic process as well. And looking at the academics and the quality of the professional work experience that the candidate has is I think a given and we definitely consider all of that, but there has to be a little bit more beyond that, and it’s really so important to assess the fit in terms of what the candidate is looking for. What are your goals? What’s your story? What is it you want to do? What are you hoping to get out of this program? And is that something that we can help you with? We wanna make sure that you’re gonna be satisfied coming out of the program and that anybody coming in is able to really contribute to the class discussion, to really lift the classmates up. Because as important as it is to learn from your professors, what you’re learning from your classmates is equally important. So there has to be that collaboration, there has to be that value add from that perspective. And I think it’s really important for candidates to have that curiosity and that drive, that interest in really pushing themselves. And in our program, we talk a lot about people just kind of rolling out their sleeves and one at NC State’s big things that we talk about is think and do. And so we push that into the MBA program as well. It’s important to jump in, to get the job done, to work together as a team. So we’re really looking for those kinds of qualities in any candidate that we consider.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.