Students who are contemplating pursuing an online MBA program have many questions. What will an online experience be like? How will the online education be different from being a residential student? Will I be as successful online as I would be in a classroom? What does the MBA program entail? Will future employers respect my online degree? Will my job prospects expand? Will the program be worth the time, money and effort I put into it?
Online MBA Today is sitting down with Dr. Gary Schirr, the Director of the MBA Program at Radford University, to help answer some of these important questions. Located in Radford, Virginia, this comprehensive public university is home to more than 9,400 students, both undergraduate and graduate. It is recognized for the strength of its academic programs, success of its sustainability efforts, and dedication to excellence. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the MBA program holds the elite AACSB accreditation. Radford University's College of Business and Economics has been named one of the best business schools in the United States by The Princeton Review, and the MBA program has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report in the publication's 2017 Best Business School part-time MBA ranking. The online MBA program offers students the same cost, curriculum, admission requirements, timeline, and the same renown faculty as the on-campus counterpart. The Radford Online MBA Program has been ranked in Online MBA Today's Top 100 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs ranking and Top 50 Best Value Online MBA Programs ranking.
Online MBA Today: What are some key differences between an online MBA and a residential MBA that prospective students should be aware of?
Dr. Gary Schirr: At Radford we do what we can to make the online and in-person experience the same: the same professors teach online and in-person classes and the content of the course is the same. The medium of the interaction will differ, but we work to make online personal by making use of technologies such as Zoom and online forums and often include group work.
Online MBA Today: What do you think are some advantages of an online MBA program versus a residential program?
Dr. Gary Schirr: Advantage number 1 of the online MBA is convenience. A working professional can continue her or his education wherever she lives or however much she travels with the job. Forums can be accessed any time of day. Accessible education is more likely to be successfully completed.
Online MBA Today: What makes your program unique among online MBAs?
Dr. Gary Schirr: As electives we have courses in two of the key themes of modern business, innovation and analytics, within each of the business disciplines. Service and Product Innovation (marketing), Innovation Strategy (management), Financial innovation and the economics of innovation are all offered, as are their counterparts in analytics. Most students will take two each of the innovation and analytics courses along with another elective. A certification and a concentration in Analytics is being proposed for students who want to focus on that aspect of business.
Our online and in-class programs are taught by the same professors. Some students who live within driving distance of Radford or the Southwest Higher Education center in Abingdon, Virginia, choose to take a few of their courses in-class.
Online MBA Today: What do you look for in successful applicants to your program?
Dr. Gary Schirr: We look at a candidate's college transcript, work experience, GMAT or GRE scores, and recommendations and like to see someone showing promise from all four perspectives. But a strong indication from one or two of these perspectives can outweigh the other indictors. A candidate with 5 years of meaningful work experience after graduation can request a waiver of the GMAT/GRE requirement.
Online MBA Today: What has been the experience of your graduates in the job market?
Dr. Gary Schirr: Most of our online students are working full time and using the MBA to help them advance within their company. Others use it to seek a new job or even a new career.
Online MBA Today: Anything else you'd like to say about your program?
Dr. Gary Schirr: We are accredited by the leader in business education, AACSB. Online or in-class we aim to offer a personal education.
BIG TAKE AWAYS:
Convenience: There is a great advantage for a student to be able to achieve their goals and better their future by earning a degree online. By offering an online MBA, Radford University is providing many people with this advantage. Not only can a student earn their MBA while currently working in the business world, while traveling, or while taking care of family, they can earn this degree from anywhere. The forums offered can be accessed at any time of day. The strong bonds between the student and the faculty along with the innovative use of technology that Radford University is well known for, help enhance the learning environment for both the on campus and online student. Because Radford aligns the curriculum, the faculty, the entire course schedule of the MBA degree, an online student that lives close enough to campus can choose to attend class in person at times. This kind of convenience highlights the ultimate advantage that this university offers with its online MBA program.
Unique Curriculum: With so many different online MBA programs offered today, Radford University has set their curriculum apart with a focus on innovation and analytics. With these two fields of study being the linchpin to future business, Radford has steeped their electives in these fields of study to help prepare students for advanced leadership roles in both the private and public areas of the worldwide economy. They are also proposing a certification and a concentration in Analytics that will help students focus on that specific area of business.