As a student begins to research pursuing an online MBA program, their mind is filled with many questions. What will the program be like? What will an online classroom be like? What does the MBA program entail? How will the online education be different from being a residential student? Will the program be worth the time, money and effort I put into it?
Online MBA Today is sitting down with Kathy Farrell, Dean of the College of Business at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, to help answer some of these important questions. Being one of the fastest growing metro areas in the Midwest, Lincoln is rated among the top U.S. Cities for quality of life according to NerdWallet. Overseeing almost 26,000 students pursuing associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, the university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools and Business) accredited College of Business offers a 48-credit hour online MBA program with concentrations in Business Analytics, Finance, International Business, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management. Besides being recognized among the best online MBA programs in the U.S. by Financial Times, the Princeton Review, and U.S. News & World Report, the business school has also been awarded by Quacquarelli Symonds as offering one of the best online MBA programs in the world. Online MBA Today has ranked this program among the top in the country for No-GMAT Online MBA programs and the Top Online MBA programs.
Online MBA Today: What do you think are some advantages of an online MBA program versus a residential program?
Dean Farrell: Online programs offer a number of significant advantages. First, the program is much more flexible as the course content can be accessed from virtually anywhere that has an internet connection. Most classes also offer a significant amount of self-paced and asynchronous work, which can be done on the student's schedule, not the university's. Second, the program offers a broad network of students from many different geographic locations. The online program allows students to connect from coast-to-coast and even from international locations. This broadens the network beyond the connections that can be made on campus. Finally, online programs offer students the opportunity to engage in a virtual business world, which likely mirrors the reality they face in their day-to-day roles.
Online MBA Today: What makes your program unique among online MBAs?
Dean Farrell: Nebraska offers a flexible, reputable and relevant program at a fair price. Students are able to mix and match courses across five different eight-week academic terms across the year. This allows students to match their course schedule to the demands of their professional and personal lives. Our courses are designed by Big 10 caliber faculty with content expertise in conjunction with professional instructional designers. The combination results in a product that is both driven by the latest in research and practice. Finally, at just over $30k for the full degree, the MBA@Nebraska offers students a great return on investment.
Online MBA Today: What do you look for in successful applicants to your program?
Dean Farrell: Successful applicants generally have seven to ten years of professional work experience and hold leadership positions in their respective organizations. Depending upon level of experience, applicants may qualify for a GMAT waiver. For those that do not, we look for candidates to earn a 600 or higher on the GMAT and carry an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better. Finally, we look for students who will add diverse experiences from a variety of professional backgrounds to enrich the virtual classroom experience and discussion.
Online MBA Today: What has been the experience of your graduates in the job market?
Dean Farrell: Most of our students are fully employed when they enter the online MBA program. These students are looking to advance in their careers. With that said, the Financial Times recently surveyed our alumni and found our program to offer the highest ROI in terms of salary increase (40%) of any online MBA program across the globe.
Online MBA Today: Anything else you'd like to say about your program?
Dean Farrell: We continue to invest in world-class instruction and cutting-edge pedagogy, while also attempting to offer our students additional opportunities to engage through our mentoring program and alumni networking events. We're also working to bring additional leadership development opportunities to our students both within the existing curriculum and through optional extracurricular opportunities.
"Looking for a career change, I chose Nebraska because it was highly ranked, offered more experiences, like my internship with Southwest Airlines, and was a great value. My potential for success is much higher now."
-Tracy Farrell, Bend, Oregon, MBA Class of 2018
"The professors and staff were great resources, who I connected with on a personal level. It's something you can't really put a value on, though I consider it my greatest investment."
-Josh Orellana, San Francisco, California, MBA Class of 2016
"My boss told me if I wanted to grow in the company, I needed to fill my gaps. My MBA degree helped me understand the business aspects of the company – how my department fit into the larger corporation and how I could understand the company's needs. The promotion that followed came from people who have worked with me and saw the difference in my development."
-Estella Dachenhausen, Portland, Oregon, MBA Class of 2012
Big Take Aways
ROI: When a student is contemplating which online MBA program would be the best fit for them, one of the most important factors is to consider the approximate return on the investment they are making. The financial investment a student makes into a program is very important and can sometimes be a really expensive process. Most of the students who partake in the University of Nebraska, Lincoln's online MBA program are already employed and looking to advance in their careers. As Dean Farrell stated, "the Financial Times recently surveyed our alumni and found our program to offer the highest ROI in terms of salary increase (40%) of any online MBA program across the globe." There have been some reports of early career salaries being $20,000 more than the cost of the program. This all confirms a very healthy return on investment for students who choose to pursue this online MBA.
UNIVERSITY INVESTMENT: The University of Nebraska, Lincoln's College of Business works extremely hard to create a top-notch, world class online MBA program that provides students with an excellent professional business education. Expert faculty, having high-caliber knowledge, design the courses and teach the students. Along with the excellent teaching, the program provides additional opportunities for students to expand their learning environment through networking events with alumni, a mentoring program, leadership development and optional extracurricular events. All of this shows that the university highly invests in preparing their students for great success in their careers.