Students who are contemplating pursuing an online MBA program have many questions. What will the MBA program be like? Will I benefit from an online experience? Will I receive the same education as a residential student? Will employers respect my degree and see my education as credible? Will my job prospects expand? Will the program be worth all that I put into it?
Online MBA Today is sitting down with Jeff Tanner, Dean of the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University. Founded in 1930 and located in Norfolk, Virginia, this university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). ODU has a nationally recognized faculty that currently educate over 24,000 students and have alumni that span across all 50 states and 76 different countries. Having more than 100 online programs available, Old Dominion University is one of the nation’s largest providers of online distance learning courses. The Strome College of Business is one of an elite group of schools honored with accreditation on both the undergraduate and graduate levels from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-International (AACSB). They are one of fewer than 200 schools with dual Business and Accounting accreditation from AACSB. Their online MBA program is an accelerated degree program, so a student can earn their MBA faster at ODU than in a typical program. ODU is ranked #68 Best Online MBA Programs, 2018 by U.S. News and World Report and they also ranked in Online MBA Today’s Top 50 Best Value Online MBA Programs 2018 and Top 50 Online MBA Programs 2018. They offer certificates in Modeling, Simulation and Visualization; Maritime, Ports and Logistics Management; Public Procurement and Contract Management; and Business Analytics and Big Data.
Online MBA Today: What are some key differences between an online MBA and a residential MBA that prospective students should be aware of?
Jeff Tanner: Some students expect the rigor of an online MBA to be less than that of a residential MBA; however, these are the same degrees with the same level of rigor. Students should not be surprised at the intensity of the online MBA course of study.
Students need to exhibit even more self-discipline in an online program compared to a residential program in order to ensure their successful completion of the program.
Students need to be clear what they hope to get out of the experience. One of the greatest benefits of an MBA program is the opportunity it offers to grow one’s professional network. However, the online MBA student will have to take some ownership in this part of the process to gain the greater benefit.
Online MBA Today: What do you think are some advantages of an online MBA program versus a residential program?
Jeff Tanner: Flexible – students can alter the pace of their program completion as needed. Unlike online MBA programs that are lock-step, cohort-based, ours is very flexible in this respect.
Accessible – the program is available to students regardless of their geographic location.
Diversity of the student body creates a rich experience that rivals, if not exceeds, that of a residential program.
Online students tend to have more work experience which brings additional richness to the class experience. Again, something to be leveraged in developing one’s network, but it will require the student taking an active role in that development.
Online MBA Today: What makes your program unique among online MBAs?
Jeff Tanner: Our program has been designed to be available entirely online; however, if a student wishes s/he can take coursework in a face-to-face environment as well.
Our program offers students the ability to complete add-on specialty Certificates to create a course of study to address their unique personal and professional interests. In fact, students can select from nearly 50 Certificate options.
We offer flexible program time-to-completion. Students may complete the program in as few as 21 months; however, if a student’s circumstances change s/he may elect to extend the time to completion as needed.
Lead by full-time ODU professors with industry experience.
Online MBA Today: What do you look for in successful applicants to your program?
Jeff Tanner: Successful applicants are able to demonstrate that they are a good fit for our program and bring experiences and skills that help create a vibrant learning environment.
We look for students who have significant work experience at the managerial level.
We look for students who possess excellent analytical skills yet who are effective communicators.
We seek individuals who can demonstrate the self-discipline to be able to control schedule and work independently.
Online MBA Today: What has been the experience of your graduates in the job market?
Jeff Tanner: Our students experience an excellent ROI.
The ODU MBA advances our students’ careers.
The program stresses the core competencies that every professional needs to be an effective leader. Our students are prepared to take on leadership roles in their organizations.
Online MBA Today: Anything else you’d like to say about your program?
Jeff Tanner: The ODU MBA offers an environment for enrichment by offering numerous opportunities for networking and collaboration with our business, industry, and community partners. Our objective is to develop ethical leaders with a global perspective who are life-long learners. They are leaders who are ready to tackle the challenges of a rapidly evolving, and increasingly global, business environment.
Big Take Aways
Leadership: A leader is someone who can guide and direct a group. It takes self-discipline, focus, determination, communication skills, and perseverance to become a great leader. These are also characteristics that are needed in students that want to succeed in this online MBA program. A student must take an active role and ownership in the process to get the most out of the program. Old Dominion University looks for these leadership qualities in their applicants, students who have managerial work experience, effective communicators, self-discipline to effectively navigate the flexibility of the schedule and the ability to work independently. This online MBA program is designed to grow and enhance the leader’s abilities to help them become effective leaders in the work place.
Diversity: There is great advantage to being a part of a widely diverse student body. As an online student, there are students from all over the world that are a part of this online program with you, studying with you, communicating with you. The diversity of cultures, experiences, perspectives and understanding can add so much depth to a student’s education in very unique ways. As ODU’s objective is to develop ethical leaders with a global perspective who are life-long learners, the diversity of online students helps the school to achieve this objective successfully.