A Small MBA Program In The U.S. Midwest Went All-Online — And Doubled In Size

Cornell Hall, home of the Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri. School photo

Q&A WITH RYAN MURRAY, MISSOURI TRULASKE DIRECTOR OF GRADUATE STUDIES

P&Q: What does the ideal Trulaske Crosby MBA student look like?

Ryan Murray: That’s a unique question because that student looks different. That different student is diverse. There’s lots of needs that we can meet with this program. That student might look like a stay-at-home parent who has lots of different commitments, who maybe needs to work on their coursework when the kids have gone to bed. That student might look like someone employed full-time who does their work in the evenings or on weekends. That student might look like a student that’s straight-through, that’s going to work full-time, but didn’t want to stay in Columbia. They wanted to go to a different city, or maybe they’re back at home with mom and dad saving some money. That student can look like someone that’s been in the industry for 20 years and is looking to make a pivot. That student can look like maybe someone that’s 20 and looking to start their own business. That student is different. We can meet the needs of a lot of students and we welcome the diversity of what that student might look like.

I read a quote recently from the dean of the Chicago Booth School of Business, who told a newspaper in India that he believes that there’s not really going to be a lot more growth in the traditional two-year residential MBA. It’s a mature product. He sees growth happening in what you guys are doing, in some of the hybrid programs and then the online programs. Does that sound like something you’d agree with?

I would say I agree with that. I would say we are committed at the Trulaske College of Business to still fostering a program of community, fostering a community of networking, fostering a community of dynamic business experiences that still gives students real-world opportunities, that give students real-world abilities to network with other students, to network with faculty, and to network with our employer partners. So I think our program looks a little different than others. Because I don’t know that every program fosters that additional community.

What would you like the Crosby MBA to be best known for, and what misconceptions would you like to dispel? 

I would like the Crosby MBA program to be known as a dynamic and accessible graduate business education that still fosters the hallmarks of a traditional MBA program. So we’re online, we’re asynchronous, but you still have that ability to meet your classmates. You still have that ability to meet one-on-one with your faculty member. You still have that ability to come to homecoming and be involved in a tailgate. We host a giant MBA-centered tailgate each homecoming. So we still foster that community. You hear me say a lot about that, “foster that community” — that’s still something that we care about deeply. So I really like our program to not just be that you’re logging on and you’re doing your coursework. It’s that you’re interacting with your faculty, you’re learning from your faculty, you’re working with real-life companies. I mean, in our consulting classes, we’re working with large companies and doing big things and solving real-world problems.

Our students are still doing that. They’re still building relationships. They’re still meeting each other. They’re still building this network that is so expected from an MBA degree. They’re still doing that.

I would like to dispel the myth that an online degree is “less than,” that an online degree is not something that is as strong. I think you could probably agree that there’s lots of discussion about, “Is an online degree worth it? Is an online degree as good a degree as an in-person?” I would say absolutely. I’m not saying every degree is like that. I’m saying our Crosby MBA is certainly like that, because you’re getting all of the things you would’ve gotten in an in-person, but in a more flexible, accessible way.

The size of the enrollment that you described earlier, is that where you guys are happy? Or is the Crosby MBA going to continue to grow?

I think that depends on a lot of things. I think that depends on what we want to be known for, and I think we’re figuring that out. I’d say that’s what we want. We need to make sure we have the appropriate faculty to support those numbers. But I think consistent growth is key. Consistent growth tells me that people are hearing about our program. Consistent growth tells me that people are excited about what we’re doing here in the Trulaske College of Business, and that’s what makes me excited.

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