When Leticia Porter studied for her MBA at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Manning School of Business 11 years ago, she used a mix-and-match approach, taking one course online and one on campus each semester. With little kids at home, the approach served her well. “I didn’t want to come to campus,” she says with a chuckle. “I did a combination and students can still do that.”
Porter, now assistant dean at UMass Manning, points out that when it comes to flexibility, the ability to “mis and match” is just the beginning. The general 30-credit MBA program involves 10 courses, seven of which are core and three of which are electives, with dozens of electives to choose from — including some intriguing interdisciplinary choices, particularly those borrowed from the UMass Lowell Master of Fine Arts, with more always under consideration. There are five concentrations — accounting, finance, IT, marketing, international business, managerial leadership — and four more are soon to be added. Porter tells Poets&Quants the school has rolling admission and offers a robust summer schedule and even has classes during the winter, giving students four semesters and “a lot of options” to finish the program in the targeted three years or as little as 22 months.
“Even those who have to take one at a time still move at a pretty good pace,” she says.
‘A GREAT NICHE MARKET OF OFFERING VALUE’
Launched in 2006, the UMass Manning program is currently ranked 47th by U.S. News & World Report. It costs $640 per credit; at 30 credits, that’s $19,200, plus a $200 fee. It’s a low price, especially for the region, and a big reason why classes keep getting bigger: The program now has 565 students, Porter says, including more than 200 new admits since the fall of 2016. Counting the full-time MBA program, UMass Manning has seen a 14% enrollment increase in the last year. To be sure, the school’s 90% acceptance rate has something to do with that.
Speaking of flexibility, there’s also the fact that UMass Manning’s online MBA is asynchronous, with every class recorded. (Even the “office hours” are recorded for students who have scheduling conflicts.) The core consists of Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Management, Management Information Systems, Operations, and finally a capstone. The capstone cannot be finished until the other core courses are completed, Porter says.
Faculty is entirely composed of on-campus teachers, Porter says, 27 of whom are full-time; 22 of those are tenure-track. In admissions, the school accepts either the GMAT or GRE, and will waive either if an applicant has eight or more years of work experience and a 3.0 from an AACSB-accredited school. The student body skews male at 65.5%, and it skews old, too, with an average age of 38.
“We’re definitely in a great niche market of offering value because the cost is low, it’s an accredited program, we have all this curricular flexibility — electives, concentrations, basically four semesters — and it’s a world-class program. With all these things, that makes it a great value,” Porter says.
3 KIDS, 40+ HOUR WORK WEEKS, 1 ONLINE MBA PROGRAM
Jessica Snelling graduated from the UMass Manning online MBA program in early 2017. A manager of finance in the healthcare industry, Snelling went back too school driven by “personal need,” but also by professional reality. “Higher education seems to be the trend in my industry and in order to remain competitive in my profession, obtaining my MBA was a must,” she tells Poets&Quants.
Snelling researched and compared schools for more than six months before applying to UMass, a process that included compiling Excel comparisons of each including total credits, schools utilizing career experience as an exception to the GMAT, and overall cost for the program. Once she’d made her choice, she found the Manning program “challenging but attainable” — a good fit for someone working more than 40 hours per week and raising three children.
“It was a tremendous workload and one that allowed me to sleep around 10-15 hours per week during some course periods,” Snelling says. She graduated in 18 months by taking two classes at a time “during a few occasions.” Still in the healthcare industry, her MBA led to a promotion and a large bump in pay, “as well as the opportunity for continued professional growth.”