New Online M.B.A. Program Brings Distinctive Approach for Mid-Career Professionals

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By Scott Lewis

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Stuart School of Business at Illinois Institute of Technology is launching the Online Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program this fall, giving mid-career professionals a distinctive new part-time option within the burgeoning marketplace of online M.B.A. programs. 

Developed as an online version of Stuart’s on-campus Accelerated M.B.A. program, the new program is “high-tech and high-touch,” according to Professor of Marketing Krishna Erramilli, director of M.B.A. programs at Stuart, with a curriculum that brings together business, innovation, and technology and a convenient online delivery that emphasizes interaction among students and faculty.

“Coming from a technology-focused university, we bring a new perspective to teaching the range of business subjects that go into the M.B.A.,” Erramilli says. “We have a strong focus on innovation throughout the curriculum and are attuned to the needs and challenges of the emerging high-tech industries, where there is pressure to continually innovate. We prepare our students to be effective managers in that environment.”

Stuart’s online and on-campus M.B.A. programs share the same experienced faculty and rigorous, industry-driven curriculum, as well as intentionally small class sizes and individual access to faculty. Experiential learning is a pillar of Stuart’s M.B.A. curriculum and will continue online, says Erramilli, including projects in which students collaborate with a company to tackle a business problem, develop potential solutions, and present their recommendations to the firm’s executives.

The Blackboard Collaborate Ultra learning management platform will support that online activity with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous elements, including weekly video conferences in real time—course sessions, project meetings, and faculty office hours—plus online discussion boards and assignments.

“The online M.B.A. live sessions almost feel like you’re inside the classroom, and you can attend them from anywhere—on your phone, your tablet, or your computer,” says Associate Professor of Economics Liad Wagman, a veteran of online teaching and one of the Stuart faculty involved in shaping the new program. “All those live sessions are recorded, so even if you can’t make it at the class time, you can view it later or you can view it again.”

“We’re putting a huge amount of emphasis on real-time interactivity, to create an environment where students can participate freely and contribute their thoughts and opinions, ask questions, and learn from each other, as well as from the faculty.” Erramilli notes. “That’s a very powerful way for students to stay engaged.”

The online program has also adopted a one-course-at-a-time format, allowing students to focus exclusively on a single course for eight weeks and then move on to the next one, completing 12 courses for the degree in two years.

“The beauty of our online program is that the interaction is almost continuous throughout each week,” Wagman says. “You have flexibility to do things at a time that you choose, and at the same time you have that continuous interaction that is so desirable in any classroom environment.”