MBA program equips students for success
May 3, 2018 LA GRANDE, Ore. – It’s all about options for students in Eastern Oregon University’s Master of Business Administration program.
Taylor Smith, who enrolled in the program on campus this fall, said she’s had opportunities to ask questions, prepare presentations and continuously learn new business concepts from professors and peers.
“The MBA classes have challenged me to think in unconventional ways,” she sad. “They have increased my emotional intelligence and allowed me to work both independently and collaboratively to implement strategic problem solving methods.”
Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in business from EOU, and decided to stay on campus for the master’s program. She said an MBA will open up more opportunities for advancement in her career.
“An MBA has allowed me to become a more effective leader and has provided me with tools to work through and solve real-world problems,” Smith said.
After moving from Chewelah, Wash., Smith plugged in to the La Grande community quickly. She joined the EOU softball team and picked up the university’s new Outdoor Leadership and Recreation minor.
Smith discovered EOU at exactly the right time. She joined a cohort of MBA students who will be some of the first to experience the program’s extensively renovated degree structure. Updated course offerings and cutting-edge educational technology allow EOU to provide an efficient, customizable degree for working adults
“Most MBA programs are very prescriptive,” Business Professor Gary Keller said. “Ours is transformative.”
He said EOU’s overhauled program is one of the first to give students choices in designing their degrees. Starting in fall 2018, the remodeled pathway invites students to select 15 elective credits and 30 core credits to tailor-make a degree catered to their skills and needs.
Almost every class on offer has been refreshed for today’s professionals. Students complete core classes and electives from options that include Business and the Environment, Emotional Intelligence and Managerial Effectiveness, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, and Strategic Agribusiness Management.
Smith said her favorite courses so far have been Contemporary Management and Business Ethics.
“These classes provided great insight on what it means to be an effective leader and they have helped me achieve personal goals within the workplace,” she said.
The expanded range of course offerings began with a team of faculty who re-designed the program to function with three-credits courses. The switch also means students can take more classes each term and finish in less than two years.
“As a faculty, we refreshed a fairly successful program to optimize it,” Keller said. “It was risky, but now we’re ready for the next generation, as we bring the EOU experience to the world.”
Even more elective courses are available through partnership with Portland State University. EOU has always offered a track for accounting certification, but students will now be able to earn certificates from PSU in Global Supply Chain Management, Athletic and Outdoor Industry, and Business of Social Innovation.
Core competency courses also underwent a remodel, including the program’s capstone project. The traditional thesis was replaced by a virtual simulation that requires students to manage real-world businesses in a digital environment. Their enterprises compete on local, national and international levels, as well as with MBA classmates, to apply all of the knowledge gained during their coursework.
“Previously, we’ve had a capstone project that looked similar to many other institutions’ approach,” said Dan Mielke, dean of the Colleges of Business and Education. “We found that it tended to be a barrier for students on the cusp of graduating. The simulation capstone puts students on a more solid footing.”
A shift to rolling admissions each term allow students to begin their degrees on a flexible schedule that suits busy lives. On-campus classroom sessions, like the ones Smith attends in La Grande, are also taught in Tigard and webcast online to students at regional sites in Hermiston, Ontario, Klamath and Prineville.
Smith said this practical, accommodating approach reached the classroom, too.
“The faculty members are always willing to help students develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses,” she said. “They relate the course material to specific workplace situations.”
The program is accredited by The International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), an entity that specifically reviews business programs. This distinction, plus EOU’s flexible enrollment and delivery modalities, makes the EOU MBA one of the best values in the Pacific Northwest.
Smith plans to make the most of the program’s sped-up, five-term timeline, aiming to graduate in fall 2018 and take her new skill-set to a professional management position.
“The program challenges you to think creatively and provides you with necessary tools to work through complex problems,” she said. “And it provides an engaging environment dedicated to working with other business professionals from diverse backgrounds.”