Online MBA Report recently spoke with Trident University's Debra J. Louis, PhD, Dean, Glenn R. Jones College of Business about their Online MBA program and their unique "EdActive" approach that allows students to have experiential learning and bring their own experiences to the conversation.
Trident University launched it’s online MBA over a decade ago. How do students benefit from this experience?
The Trident MBA program differs from many MBA programs in that it is highly applied and oriented to building the student’s problem-solving capabilities. While many MBA programs take the textbook-and-multiple-choice exam approach to their curriculum, Trident employs a unique EdActive approach where student actively engages with the course material. The curriculum is built upon experiential learning, real-word problem solving, and the student’s own experience. The result is that the student acquires a deeper understanding of how the course content applies to real problems they face as managers. Rather than taking tests, student learning is enhanced through written cases, application exercises and projects. Thus the Trident student benefits in two ways that they might not receive from other MBA programs: They grow their ability to apply highly developed critical thinking and management skills to real problems and they sharpen and refine their writing abilities to better communicate their ideas in clear and logical arguments.
What type of student typically enrolls in your online MBA program?
Since the Trident MBA program is 100% on-line and asynchronous, it is highly appealing to working adults who can not take time off to attend classes either physically or on-line at a specified time-and place. Furthermore, they do not need to juggle time zones. This means that within a course structure, students can work on their studies at their own schedule, not one that is dictated by the University. This flexibility is highly attractive to people who may have to travel frequently for their job, military students who may get deployed at any time, and working parents who have to balance work, family and school. It is not surprising that the profile of our “typical student” is 35-39 years old and 50% are active-duty military.
What are the most popular MBA tracks?
The most popular track is the “no-concentration” option. This option allows the student to complete the MBA in as little as 12 months. We also offer concentrations in Conflict Management and Negotiation, Human Resource Management, Strategic Leadership, Logistics, Information Security and Digital Assurance, Information Technology, and General Management for those students who would like greater specialization.
Do students work as a cohort or in another way?
We do not use a cohort system, students are free to progress through the program at their own pace. That said, there are some classes that have team projects where students work asynchronously with a group of other students in the class on a project.
How do students in the online MBA program interact with faculty?
Students interact regularly with faculty in the on-line discussion boards incorporated into every class. In addition, faculty are available for individual consultation via email, teleconference, and/or video conference.
Tell us about the career services and professional resources that are offered to online MBA degree candidates.
Trident University’s Center for Career Planning and Workforce Strategies serves as a collaborative resource for students, alumni, faculty, and partner employers. Services provided include career exploration, resume reviews, mock interviews, job search assistance, and others. The career center also conducts ongoing webinars, employer information sessions, virtual career fairs, and other career focused events. Employers presenting information sessions in recent months have included the FBI, USAA and Schlumberger. Trident’s Alumni Association also serves as an outstanding resource for professional networking, information interviews, career opportunities, etc.
Trident is known for it’s diversity of student body: how is this a benefit to prospective students?
The area where we see the greatest benefit of diversity in our student body is in the discussion forums. In these forums, students are asked about their own perspectives on a topic related to the course, but also are exposed to different perspectives from fellow students. Through the discussions, students are encouraged to challenge, explore, and delve deeper into contemporary business issues through those interactions. Because of the diversity of the participants, students are exposed to broader experience, knowledge, strategies, and viewpoints. They frequently gain a perspective that they would not have been exposed to previously and this compels them to examine their own viewpoints more critically. The result is that the student learns new ways of framing issues, interpreting events, comprehending and applying course concepts, and resolving differences. In short, they become more broad-minded, more creative in their problem solving, and stronger critical thinkers than they would be in a more homogeneous environment.
Can you share a short example or highlight of faculty achievement in the program?
It would be totally inadequate and somewhat unfair to single out a single faculty achievement. All of our full-time faculty and 90% of our part time faculty in the MBA program hold doctoral degrees. Some faculty, such as Drs. Mary Lind and Wendy Wang, have distinguished themselves by publishing in academic journals on topics such as virtual teams, technology and firm performance, innovation, and ERP in China. Others have strong records of business achievement and public service – especially to the military community. We are very proud of the myriad ways our faculty contribute to the academic, business and military community.
What companies typically recruit MBA’s from your program?
While Trident does not and cannot guarantee placement or employment with any particular employer, we work with a variety of employers from both the public and private sectors in providing resources and opportunities to students and alumni. Through our virtual Trident4Careers center, employers can create an employer profile, post job opportunities, and connect with potential candidates. Companies participating in career events and/or posting jobs at Trident4Careers include the FBI, Hilton, Amazon, Elbit Systems, First Command, and others.
What advice would you give a prospective candidate for your online MBA program?
I think that some prospective students hold themselves back – waiting for the perfect time to go back to school. My advice to them would be ‘Just do it!” because there never will be that perfect time. Trident would be a great choice for students who are worried that they will not be able to manage school and their other responsibilities, and yet cannot afford to quit their jobs and go to school full time. That is where the flexibility of an asynchronous online program is so helpful. So while there may never be a “perfect time”, we will work with you and your schedule to find a way that you manage it!
My second piece of advice would be to those prospective students who don’t think that they could be successful in an MBA program. Don’t sell yourself short! If you meet the admissions criteria, work reasonably hard, and practice time management skills so that you do not get behind – you can succeed!
Why should a prospective MBA candidate choose Trident University?
I can think of three key reasons why a student would want to choose Trident University:
- Our EdActive model, discussed above, has been proven to be a more efficient and effective learning process for the adult learner.
- Our Flexibility gives the student the ability to manage his or her own schedule around key deadlines to better balance a busy life.
- Our Affordability allows the option of earning a regionally-accredited degree with a low tuition rate in as little as one year.
Thanks to Debra J. Louis for participating. For more interviews, check out our Online MBA Report Interview Series