Arizona State University is offering an MBA program for people who don't have time to be on campus.
The W.P. Carey MBA online program gives students an accredited 48-credit hour graduate management curriculum primarily through the internet for working professionals who need a flexible schedule.
The idea is an expansion of a university program that offers an online MBA to employees of corporate partners including John Deere, Lucent and Chevron-Texaco. “From that we realized people want an MBA, but don't have the time to be on campus,” said Johnny Rungtusanatham, online program faculty director. “Up until recently, they've had no credible choice.”
Even in ASU's part-time MBA program, students typically have to be on campus 8 to 16 hours per week. The online program requires students to complete 12 four-credit courses over a 2-year period. Students take one course at a time, a total of six courses annually.
Each individual course is six weeks, followed by a one-week break between courses. It is designed and given by full-time faculty.
While nearly all of the course work is done via the Web, students meet for a week at the beginning of the program where they are broken up into teams of five. The inaugural class of 48 students began last week and includes students from the 13 states, Colombia, Hong Kong, India and the Philippines. Less than half of the class is from Arizona and just eight live in the Valley.
Bill Flanagan is a 32-year-old field vice president for Great American Financial Resources, an insurance company based in Cincinnati.
He lives in Chandler, is married and has two sons. Flanagan travels 35 weeks a year and taking ASU's part-time MBA program would mean he would get home on Thursday nights and be on campus Friday and Saturday.
“For me it’s very real life,” he said of the online program. “Taking this course is not unlike communicating with my company. I'm on the laptop all the time.
Some of the other members of my team are 2,000 miles away, and I still need to bring that together from a distance.” Three of his five-member MBA team are in Arizona and the other two are in Sacramento, Calif. and Philadelphia.
The program costs $17,000 a year, and classes consist of individual work, discussion boards, team projects and tests and quizzes that must be done within a certain time frame. Julie Oxner, 28, of Scottsdale, said she decided on the online program because it fit into her busy schedule and she knew of the business school's good reputation. She is an operations manager for a Procter and Gamble facility in Phoenix that produces Metamucil. “I'm in charge of the plant 24 hours a day,” she said. “I can't be in class if there is a production problem.”
Tony Solem, CEO of First Plan of Minnesota, an HMO of 225 employees and three family practices, said the class will help balance his work and family life. The father of a 2-year-old son, he spends a lot of his time in meetings with physicians and their staffs.
“The unpredictably of the job makes it difficult to get to a scheduled class,” he said. “You can't plan out your schedule that well all of the time.” The program is accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business International, putting ASU's online MBA program into strong competition with the Syracuse, Florida, Indiana and Penn State, Rungtusanatham said.
In July, he expects between 75 and 100 students to enroll in the program. He said many students come from backgrounds in health care, public education and the high-tech sector. “It doesn't matter what industry you're in, sooner or later you end up having to manage something,” Rungtusanatham said.