When Jack Baroudi was leading the formation of an online MBA program at the University of Delaware Lerner College of Business & Economics, he had one overarching concern: to make the program as rigorous as the school’s full-time on-campus program — and as beneficial academically and professionally.
Three and a half years later, the senior associate dean of academic programs is proud and pleased with what the Delaware Lerner online MBA program has become.
“People are always concerned that the online program is not going to be as rigorous as the on-campus program or provide the same benefit, and that was something I absolutely wanted to make certain was not going to be true,” Baroudi tells Poets&Quants. “I wanted to make sure it was the same curriculum, the same faculty, the same learning outcomes, and the same benefits for both on-campus and online. And that’s what we’ve done, and we’re very proud of where our online MBA program is today.”
FOUR MAJORS, 44 CREDITS, 250 STUDENTS
The Delaware Lerner online MBA, ranked 65th in 2017 by U.S. News & World Report, is entirely online, but students can accelerate completion by taking courses at the school’s Newark, Delaware campus. The school has six semesters and five intake dates, during which they typically admit 20 to 25 new students, Baroudi says. Currently, the online MBA has about 250 students compared with about 75 students in the full-time MBA and 275 others in the part time on-campus MBA.
The basic program, with one major or concentration, is 44 credits, with a dual concentration degree at 47 credits and a triple concentration degree at 53 credits. Available majors/concentrations are finance, international business, healthcare, and strategic leadership. At $812.50 per credit, the total cost for the degree is $35,750. Semesters are seven weeks long, and it takes a minimum of 16 months to complete, which is possible by taking two online courses every semester. Still, Baroudi says, despite it being a “very hard workload,” some 20% of Delaware students choose to finish in the shortest possible time. Most take two and a half to three years, he says.
The Delaware Lerner online MBA program is 29 credits of core courses plus workshops, and students then have 15 credits they can use any way they choose. Majors are 15 credits, concentrations are nine credits. Most students come from a 250-mile radius, Baroudi says, and as in most online programs, most are already employed. GMAT or GRE are accepted, though they can be waived for anyone with four years or more of professional experience.
“Our online MBA is a career accelerator, and talking with our students, they come in and do the online MBA because they know they need the MBA to advance in their career,” Baroudi says. “Now that we’re bringing the majors online, they will use it potentially for a career change, as well.”
TWO PROMOTIONS AND A LOT OF FLEXIBILITY
Kevin Triglia completed the Delaware Lerner online MBA in December 2016. Currently an engineer manager with Agilent Technologies in Wilmington, Delaware, he graduated from Penn State with a mechanical engineering degree in 2012 and went straight to work for his current employer. But he knew he would need an MBA as leverage to get a desired promotion.
Even before he got the degree, the leverage worked. Triglia was promoted in April 2016 to commodity manager, then again a year later to his current position. “From a career perspective, the degree greatly returned on its investment,” he tells Poets&Quants. “I was promoted twice to positions of more responsibility, higher visibility, and greater authority. That being said, I want to clarify that my accomplishments were not just because of this degree. I have a proven track record of success at my company, and the degree helped differentiate me among the other candidates.”
Triglia, who lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, worked full-time while in the online MBA program, and the flexibility it afforded him is one of the reasons he recommends it so highly.
“Although I work in Delaware, I rarely went to campus,” he says. “The flexibility was perfect because I was working full time. I often had business travel to China, India, Europe, Singapore, etc., and I was able to watch my lectures and complete my work normally. I did not risk falling behind while I was on business travel for a week or two. I work in a global environment, so meeting virtually is a fairly normal practice for me. Also, I learned an exorbitant amount of information. Coming from engineering, many of the topics I learned I either never considered or never knew. It was helpful to develop as a more well-rounded individual.”
‘A VERY WELL-CREDENTIALED AND EXPERIENCED FACULTY’
The Delaware Lerner online MBA is asynchronous, with readings, assignments, and recorded lectures as well as weekly “live office hours” facilitated through teleconferencing system Zoom. These are also recorded “so students can come in live and ask questions,” says Baroudi, who as professor of Management Information Systems also teaches two online courses himself. “I’ll offer some hints about the quiz and the assignment, and I record it and that way students who can’t make that time period can watch it later on.”
Baroudi is one of the many tenured full or associate professors who teach in the program, and he points out that the online program’s faculty is indistinguishable from the full-time program. All are Ph.D. faculty “by and large,” he says, and all have either done extensive research or have extensive industry or consulting experience. “They’re not adjunct faculty, they’re not secondary faculty, they are full faculty who you would get in the on-campus program — and that makes a huge difference,” he says.
Moreover, “the faculty are very committed to their courses — they built their courses, so they make sure we’re delivering a high-quality experience,” Baroudi says. “I teach two online courses, to great reviews I must say, but the feedback is that most students didn’t realize how engaging the online learning experience could be, but also how challenging it was going to be. Many students made the assumption that online was going to be easier, and that’s not the case — but they’re pleased because what they’re realizing is that they’re getting a high-quality education from a very well-credentialed and experienced faculty.”