Prospective students have many programs to choose from, when vetting potential Online MBA degrees. In this vetting process, students need to ask important questions about their possible experience and future. What will the online classroom be like? How will the online education be different from being a residential student? What does the online MBA program entail? 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. Hasan Pirkul, Dean of the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas, to help answer some of these important questions. Founded in 1961 as the Texas Instruments' Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, the university is located in Richardson, Texas, just 18 miles north of downtown Dallas. Receiving its regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, the university currently has almost 27,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. The Jindal school of Business receives an exemplary business accreditation through the AACSB. It's 53-credit hour online MBA program offers 15 concentrations including Energy Management, Accounting, Information Technology Management, Internal Audit, Leadership in Organizations, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, International Management and Business Analytics to name a few. The most impressive accolade the school has received is a #22 ranking by Quacquarelli Symonds as the Best Online MBA in the World. The program is also ranked the 11th Best Online MBA in the nation by the Princeton Review, 7th Best Program in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and Online MBA Today has ranked this program in the Top 50 Online MBA Programs.
Online MBA Today: What are some key differences between an online MBA and a residential MBA that prospective students should be aware of?
Dr. Pirkul: At the Jindal School, our online program is integrated into every aspect of our graduate operation. We work very hard at providing both our online students and our on-campus students with the same opportunities and advantages. Our online classes are just as interactive and collaborative as our on-campus classes. Students are required to do presentations and projects in the same capacity as on-campus students. In fact, the faculty that teach online are the same faculty that teach on-campus. Groups of online students meet as often virtually as on-campus students do physically. Our online students are also included in all our activities and many of them participate on a regular basis. Historically we have found that our online students are driven to enroll because they want the convenience of online classes and the ability to participate wherever they might be around the globe. Our online students tend to be a bit older and enrolling to add core knowledge to do their jobs more effectively and are pursuing the MBA not as a career switcher or career transition, but as a means to elevate their current position and profile for their current employer. UT Dallas offers over 70 online classes (more if you count the cross-listed ones) a year across four different MBA offering and 13 different MS specialty degrees. Many on campus students who travel often enroll in online classes so they don't get behind in their degree programs.
Online MBA Today: What do you think are some advantages of an online MBA program versus a residential program?
Dr. Pirkul: Convenience is the only real difference between on-campus and online. Students can watch lectures when it is convenient for the schedules. The curricular experience is the same.
Online MBA Today: What makes your program unique among online MBAs?
Dr. Pirkul: Because our online program complements are on-campus degree programs it allows students to take a greater variety of courses. We have 13 different specialty MS programs that offer their degree programs online. Our MBA students enjoy taking many of the functional/specialty "deep dive" classes as a part of their particular concentration in the MBA program.
Online MBA Today: What do you look for in successful applicants to your program?
Dr. Pirkul: Our online MBA students meet the same requirements for admission as our on-campus students.
Online MBA Today: What has been the experience of your graduates in the job market?
Dr. Pirkul: Our experience is that most, if not all, of our online students are already employed and are looking to elevate their careers by staying with their current employer.
Online MBA Today: Anything else you'd like to say about your program?
Dr. Pirkul: By most standards we are a very large graduate school of business that offers students – even our online MBA students — the opportunity to pair their MBA with a specialty master's degree. This is a clear opportunity for our students to distinguish themselves in the marketplace.
Big Take Aways
CONVENIENCE: While it takes a strong-willed, devoted, hard-working, committed type of person to attain an MBA degree, but geographical location and commute time doesn't have to add to the difficulty of the degree. That is why the online option is extremely convenient and flexible and allows a student to study while working, taking care of family, or other commitments. This online MBA program allows a person to work through the curriculum on their own time, which especially assists those students who are looking to add knowledge to their current business education and advance in their current field. It is also a helpful option for any student who attends on campus classes to be able to continue classes online when they need to travel, as to not lose time in their degree pursuit.
DIFFERENTIATION: There are many advantages for students who partake in a program in a large and established business school, like the Jindal School of Business. One of the big advantages is that students are able to tailor their program to meet their individual interests and goals. The Jindal School of Business offers a large variety of courses, 15 different concentration options to allow students to plunge deep into areas of interest, and the opportunity to pair their MBA with a specialty master's degree. The education gained by students who earn their online MBA from UT Dallas will differentiate them from other professionals competing in the business world with generalized MBAs.