OnlineMBA Report recently discussed Frostburg State University's Online MBA program with Dr. Sudhir Singh, which recently updated to include two new concentrations.
What type of student typically enrolls in your online MBA program?
Our program is intentionally designed to reach students who are seeking career advancement or career change and is open to those with or without a business background. Students can study with us either full-time or part-time, but most are adult, working professionals studying part-time.
Students at Frostburg have the option of three concentrations, including Business Analytics, Health Care Management and Management. Which one is most popular?
We introduced the concentrations just this fall so it is difficult to gauge precisely, but early indication is that our Business Analytics concentration is very popular. We also expect that Health Care Management will gain impressive traction over time.
Do students work as a cohort or in another way?
Our 7-week course delivery model allows students to be admitted to our program at any one of our six entry points throughout the year and complete the program at their own pace, on either a full-time or part-time basis. We do encourage students to follow a plan of study, but there is a lot of flexibility built into the design of the program; we realize that many of our students are working and have other personal obligations that may necessitate a change to their original plan of study. So, our program offers flexibility but also encourages a steady pace toward completion.
How do Frostburg students interact and network with each other and build community?
The primary mechanism for student-to-student interaction is the work that occurs in the online classroom delivered via our Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas. Classroom engagement occurs via formal introductions, postings on discussion boards, as well as group projects and assignments distributed throughout the academic term. This allows students to interact with each other, discover the diversity of life and work experiences each student brings to the program, and learn from and support each other.
Congratulations—Frostburg’s offering new concentrations beginning in the fall of 2018. How is this an enhancement versus the prior program?
FSU has been offering an MBA for many years with a general management focus. As we examined trend changes in the market place, it became clear to us that it was important to provide concentrations to allow students to specialize and hone their professional skills and knowledge to align with employer demands. The general management concentration allows FSU to continue to provide a broad and well-rounded curriculum to students who do not necessarily want to focus in a particular industry or career. The concentrations in Business Analytics and Health Care Management are designed to provide a focus for those who want to pursue careers in those emergent areas of business. The new concentrations were strategically selected based on data offered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that forecasts a higher-than-average job growth in the two areas. As an institution with a mission to address workforce needs in our region, it was important for us to ensure that our MBA program and curriculum is relevant.
How do students in the online MBA program interact with faculty?
FSU’s learning management system, Canvas, has a number of functionalities that provide opportunities for student-to-faculty interaction. These include live online meetings/lectures, discussion board posts, voice thread, and other technologies embedded into the LMS. Additionally, our faculty can meet with students using technology provided through Canvas or other technologies such as Skype or Zoom. In today’s technologically advanced society, the online modality of delivery does not require our faculty and students to be in the same physical location in order to interact in an ongoing and effective manner.
What is unique about the structure of your online MBA program?
There are four distinctive attributes that, we believe, distinguish the Frostburg MBA program:
- Quality – Accreditation by AACSB International, as well as our recognition by U.S. News and World Report as among one of the best online programs, are evidence that our program provides significant value to the enrolling student.
- Affordability – FSU is among one of the most affordable AACSB programs in the country. For eight years in a row we have been recognized GetEducated.com as a Best Buy among AACSB-accredited MBA programs
- Flexibility and Convenience - Our program delivery model is intentionally designed to meet students where they are. Our program is 100% online and offers a 7-week course delivery model to allow students the ability to balance their professional, work and academic life.
- Innovation - Our two new concentrations in Business Analytics and Health Care Management seek to meet the advanced needs of an information society.
Can you share information about the career services and professional resources offered to online MBA degree candidates?
Our Career and Professional Development Center is available to our undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni, to support their search for employment after graduation. They provide a wide variety of services from resume development, interviewing skills, and assistance in creating a professional LinkedIn profile as well as tools that link students to potential employers and internships.
Frostburg’s classes last for 7 weeks, and students can take 2 within the semester. Are the semesters 14 weeks long or 7 weeks? How does this flexibility appeal to the working student?
Our semesters are 15-week long with two 7-week sessions within the semester, allowing for a weeklong break between the sessions. One of the most popular benefits to this model is that our part-time students can take one course at a time and stay on pace to complete two courses a semester, which, in turn, keeps them on track for a two year program completion timeline. This has been a popular model because it allows students to focus on one subject area and one class schedule at a time without delaying their time to completion. Our students have reported that while the 7-week condensed course schedule can be challenging, it is more manageable as it permits concentrating on one topic at a time and following one instructor’s course schedule at a time.
At the same time, once students are accustomed to the workload, they can elect to enroll in two courses in each per 7-week session, thereby accelerating their time to graduation.
What advice would you give a prospective candidate for your online MBA program?
My advice when choosing an MBA program is that there is a lot more to a program than merely price. Quality is vitally important – particularly to employers. Additionally, I would suggest you choose a program that you feel best meshes with your current professional and personal responsibilities and interests as well as demands on your time. Joining an online MBA program will take time from your schedule just as a face-to-face program would. While learning online provides a lot of flexibility in terms of when you can study, you should plan to carve out distinct blocks of time from your schedule to successfully meet the expectations of each course. My final advice is that you focus on the benefits that our program offers – quality with affordability, which together, constitutes unbeatable value.
Thanks to Dr. Singh for participating. For more interviews, check out our Online MBA Report Interview Series.