One MBA, four different concentrations, all 100% online. That’s the Online Master’s of Business Administration program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
In as few as two years, students gain practical and strategic business skills through eight core classes, three electives, and one capstone course. Topics that are covered include organizational behavior, marketing, accounting, finance, decision analysis, information systems, economics, and entrepreneurship with everything culminating in a strategic management capstone course.
FOUR CONCENTRATIONS, DATA ANALYTICS THE FRONT RUNNER
When taking the program, students can select a general MBA option without a specified concentration or choose between business analytics, finance or healthcare administration to focus their studies.
The business analytics option is designed to enhance and elevate students’ use of data mining and data analytics techniques. The school says this is the most popular concentration of the three, with 60% of its 170 students choosing it as their focus of study.
“It’s extremely popular,” UT-Chattanooga’s Director of MBA Programs, Christine Estoye tells Poets&Quants. “People tell us that they are able to turn around and use the principles right away. A lot of folks in the concentration are doing analytics type work in their jobs already so it helps them do their jobs better and to move forward in those roles.”
To complete the concentration requires nine credit hours in three courses: Databases and Data Warehouses, Data Mining and Analytics, and Advanced Data Analytics.
The healthcare administration concentration is designed to help students seeking the skills needed to be leaders in healthcare and to help influence healthcare policy. They’ll accomplish this by taking the concentration’s three courses in Essentials of Health Systems Administration, Leadership in Complex Healthcare Systems, and Healthcare Policy and Economics.
“We have a partnership with the doctorate in nurse practitioner program on campus so that we have a clinical staff person teaching these courses and bringing a more real-world application to the class,” informs Estoye.
The finance concentration is popular with many students seeking to further their careers at their current employer within the finance and accounting divisions. Topics covered include investments, international finance, and financial markets and institutions.
Finally, the general MBA option allows students a little more flexibility to customize the experience by sharpening their skills in other general business areas. Students on this track can choose any three electives and dig deeper into areas of management, marketing, finance, or accounting.
EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE IN AS LITTLE AS TWO YEARS
No matter which track a student selects, UT-Chattanooga promises to deliver practical and strategic know-how in operations, accounting, finance, and information management, entrepreneurial skills, and completion of degree requirements in as little as 24 months.
All of these factors are what make UT-Chattanooga’s 100% Online MBA unique says Dustin Burton, a 2016 graduate of the program. “It really is the flexibility that you receive and the general overview that you get that makes this program stand out.” The 34-year-old commercial sales assistant in the banking industry spent some of his career as a school teacher and, most recently, worked in retail and restaurant management after being medically discharged from the military. He enrolled in an MBA program to broaden his business sense and says he specifically chose UT-Chattanooga because of its general business overview, it’s asynchronous format, and its consistent placement as one of the top 25 online MBA programs.
“If you want a financial track, UT-Martin has a really good program, but if you want a higher level overview or you’re looking at a higher level position for yourself, UT-Chattanooga is the place to go. You’ll get that there. Not only that, you can do what you need to do to keep your life going. Go to your job, eat dinner with your family, then get school work done.”
PRE-PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS FOR NON-BUSINESS MAJORS
The program kicks off with an online student orientation that’s done before enrolling in the first class. It’s a do-at-your-own-pace format in Blackboard, which serves as the online delivery platform for all classes. Orientation takes three to four hours to complete and students can spread it over multiple days if need be. The purpose of the opening orientation, the school says, is to get students familiar with Blackboard, teaching them how to navigate the system for future assignments and how to use the discussion board plus basic online etiquette, a review of the school’s honor code, and on-campus resources that are available to them.
Another prerequisite is for those who don’t have an academic background in business. Non-business majors must take up to four non-credit, online modules — 20-30 hours to complete — in order to obtain specific competencies the school feels they’ll need in order to be successful in the program. The subject areas the modules cover are economics, statistics, business law, and accounting. All four modules must be completed before six hours of the online MBA curriculum are completed.
A CAPSTONE COURSE TO REMEMBER
In order to be able to appeal to a broad range of students who may not necessarily be able to attend class sessions at certain set times, the school made the entire curriculum of the online MBA asynchronous. Courses are six to seven weeks long with assignments and deadlines to meet week by week. The design is cohort, but not lockstep, therefore, students can opt to lessen their course load if they need to and take as long as six years to satisfy the degree requirements.
Besides pre-recorded lectures, discussion boards are a huge part of UT-Chattanooga’s online experience, giving students the opportunity to share and discuss the course material and how it relates to their current position or other work experience. On occasion, a professor may have a planned, synchronous live session, but it’s never required. For students who can’t attend, a recording of the session is always available for them to watch afterward.
Still, a critical piece of the curriculum that students say is a major highlight is the strategic management capstone course where they’re placed inside groups to run an organization using a business simulation software.
Recent grad, Burton, says this is the most rewarding part of the program. “It wasn’t really a class. It’s an opportunity to test your skills and finally get to see all these classes you’ve been taking really come together. You look at a business from start to finish and learn that you can pull all the course content together that you learned to make a business succeed.”
THREE TEST WAIVER OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO APPLICANTS THAT QUALIFY
Up until this year, the school looked for a minimum of three years work experience but recently dropped that requirement to align with its campus program. Minimum requirements center on a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or foreign equivalent, undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or higher, and GMAT of at least 450. On a case by case basis, students can potentially bypass the GMAT if they have a 3.25 GPA plus five years of professional experience. UTC also grants waivers to students who have already earned an advanced degree such as a master’s or doctorate or to students who have earned an AACSB accredited undergraduate business degree with a 3.0 overall GPA and 3.2 GPA within their upper-level business coursework. To attend the program will cost students a total of just over $23,500.