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The Online MBA Solution For Energy Professionals

The University of Tulsa is about to launch its first online MBA program with a small intimate class of about 15 students

Forget about Joe Biden’s debate gaffe on the future of fossil fuels in America. The oil and gas industry is alive and well and will stay that way for a long time to come. And the big players in energy have already made big investments in alternative energy sources of the future.

And for energy professionals, one of the best ways to take advantage of that future is by upgrading your skills through a new online MBA program that quietly made its debut this fall with an intimate debut class of 15 students.

While the University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business has launched a general management MBA with all the business basics from finance to strategy, a central feature of this new online MBA offering is an option for students to follow an energy specialization. All told, there are nine core courses that range from Leading and Managing Organization and Issues in Business Ethics to Corporate and Business Strategy and The World Economy. Then, students get to choose four business electives in what is a 37-credit program with 25 core credits and 12 elective credits.

The deep dive into energy provides students who know they want to work in the sector a competitive advantage that few other schools offer. No less important, it gives those already in the energy field the chance to gain the general management skills to accelerate their careers.

TOTAL COST OF TULSA’S NEW ONLINE MBA: $48,470 BUT SCHOLARSHIPS ARE AVAILABLE

Kristina Jenik, the senior enrollment advisor

Kristina Jenik, senior enrollment advisor

Like other online MBAs, Tulsa’s curriculum is a part-time program for working professionals that can be completed in 24 months. Students can view course content on their own time, complemented by regular, faculty-led discussions via live video conferences. Online students will also gain real-world experience through a capstone project.

What makes Tulsa’s program unusual is its emphasis on small intimate classes of less than 20 students at a highly affordable price: $48,470 for the entire program, much less than many rival online MBA programs. In fact, the school maintains that the average student in its inaugural class is paying a total of $38,000 in tuition, thanks to both need-based and merit scholarships.

Kristina Jenik, the senior enrollment advisor for the program, says the first cohort largely draws students from both Oklahoma and Texas. “We have a lot of students who are legacies from the energy industry through their family or who are now in energy, whether it’s renewables or oil and gas,” she says. “So with the changes in the economy and the energy industry, students are coming to us saying, ‘I’ve always wanted an MBA with a focus on energy and that’s what I want to do.’ Or they are telling us, ‘This is the business I’m in, but I’m a little concerned with where it’s going and I want to get a solid MBA and potentially change careers. They want to formalize their training and be more marketable just in case. So it’s a little mix of both.”

ONLINE PROGRAM WILL HAVE THREE INTAKES A YEAR

And while the online MBA is new, the Collins College of Business isn’t. “We’re a baby in the online sense because we’re launching our first fall cohort,” adds Jenik at Poets&QuantsBackstage admissions and program event for online MBA degrees. “We’ve gathered a wonderful group of students who are starting in the fall. But the school has obviously been around since 1894 and the on-ground MBA has been around a while.”

Tulsa is going live with three start dates in the fall, spring and summer. Classes will be kept small to promote more collaborative work among students and to allow students to connect more deeply with faculty. Students will move through the program in cohorts to promote enduring bonds with each other. To complete the degree in 24 months, a student would take two classes in every 15-week-long semester.

“We try to keep students in the same group,” explains Jenik. “That being said, if they needed to take time off, they can take a semester off or reduce their class load and they can complete the degree in up to six years. So that tends to help students who are in certain fields that have heavier times of year work-wise and calendar wise.”

SOME 90% OF THE COURSEWORK IS ASYNCHRONOUS, WITH 10% IN WEEKLY LIVE ONLINE CLASSES

Roughly 90% of the coursework is asynchronous, meaning it can be done on your time online. The remaining 10% is delivered via the one-hour live classes weekly. “Once a week, we’re seeing each other face to face to work through problems and talk in small group sessions,” says Jenik. “You’ll be spending about eight hours in asynchronous coursework a week and an hour a week in a live class session. So it’s a 15-to-one ratio of students to faculty.”

Collins’ professors are expected to “crowdsource the group,” in Jenik’s words, to determine what time works best for the live sessions. “If something comes up and you have to miss, it’s fine. The live classes are recorded so you can watch them later. You don’t need to go to campus for any reason. So really all of your engagement and interaction is done via those live class sessions.”

The online program promises a virtual coach from career placement to work with every student on his or her career plans. Collins’ alumni network boasts professional partnerships with a number of major companies, including Verizon, Coca-Cola, Williams, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Boeing. Those relationships have helped the school with the highest placement rates for a business school in the state.

“We’ve already taken what has been working well at the on-ground level and have adapted that for the online program,” says Jenik. “When I see something that the on-ground program offers, I say, ‘Can we do this for online students?’ I don’t see why not, and we make it happen. That’s kind of how things work. If someone sees the need, the ability to connect those dots, we make it happen in an efficient way.”

University of Tulsa’s Online MBA Program Basics

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTSTHE BASICS
Total Cost$48,470
Time To CompleteTwo to six years
Number of CoursesNine core, four electives
SpecializationEnergy
Online Coursework90% asynchronous, 10% live Internet classes weekly
In-Residence SessionsNone
Class SizesCapped at less than 20 students
Ranking2020 Fall Launch Makes Program Yet To Be Ranked

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About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.