Tag: Online MBA

We are entering a new era in education. Learners of all ages have experienced a significant life change over these past few years, and their expectations for a traditional university environment have been blown apart.

As such, it is more important than ever for MBA programs to be able to evolve. The pandemic has changed the way we all work, the way careers look and the ways in which businesses operate. For students to be prepared to enter the new world of work, all levels of schooling will need to drastically adjust the online learning environments and resources that are being created.

Dynamism has always been a vital part of an MBA program, whether online or on campus, but people are increasingly realizing the power and potential of a great online MBA experience. By including many types of support and with faculty collaborating to produce comprehensive materials, digital technology can power an even more personal and engaging learning experience for students.

How is an online MBA program meeting students where they’re at?

Accredited online MBA programs are best suited to serve students in this unique time due to the very platform they’re based on—fully virtual classrooms. Online programs are more suitable for a wider variety of students by offering the same fundamentals, learning modules, teaching quality and admissions standards while still being flexible. This ensures that people with different scheduling, financial and accessibility needs have access to higher education.

One wonderful thing about a more flexible program is the range of students it attracts. The online MBA draws a diverse population of students—different backgrounds, languages, industry experiences, religions, etc.—and the program becomes richer because of this diversity. It also means that great instructors are drawn to the program, too.

At Olin, our online MBA has a support network that acts like a scaffold, providing a firm foundation so all learners and instructors can progress through the program together. Instructional designers work with production specialists to create great, supportive materials. The digital publishing team follows that up with digital textbooks that evolve to meet how students are actually learning. Then, eLearning Support Assistants are there to help students in real-time as they navigate their education experience.

Additionally, our courses are produced and accessible through our Center for Digital Education and our proprietary learning platform, learn.WashU. The Center for Digital Education provides staff support through dedicated studio facilities that can record large quantities of high-quality digital materials. The learn.WashU platform gives students a reliable and engaging virtual environment, like a digital campus. Platform resources are individualized for students to offer personal guidance, while access to data means feedback and adjustments can happen immediately.

How is the online MBA evolving to meet student needs?

As the future of business leadership shifts and reforms, an online MBA program is only as good as its ability to evolve. Here’s what we’re doing at Olin to ensure we continue to be the best place for students to develop MBA leadership skills:

Using feedback to grow

Students’ needs and expectations are in flux, so it’s important that providers are constantly listening to students’ thoughts and concerns. We have multiple evaluation mechanisms so that, even within a term, we can make adjustments to the way we teach, organize and communicate. We use qualitative feedback to help us make a learning experience that evolves through data-driven feedback.

Preparing students for a hybrid world

The world of work demands a lot from today’s graduates, and at the forefront of Olin’s mission is to prepare students to enter this world. How to apply for digital-first jobs and succeed. How to communicate the potential of digitalization to employers. How to help others to innovate their processes. These are the MBA leadership skills that we’re nurturing in our students so that they can become the future of business leadership.

Drilling down into MBA fundamentals

Our focus on digital experiences and learning does not mean we’re forgetting about the foundations of MBA skills development. The core principles of MBA learning form the structure of our program, but at the same time, we live and breathe a digital approach so that all of our courses and conversations are colored by the needs of the data-driven business landscape that surrounds us—including AI, cloud infrastructure, and the challenges of remote and hybrid operations.

By focusing our program on dynamic online learning, we deliberately and actively prepare MBA students for a business world that is changing all the time. By offering a safe but ambitious digital-first environment, we show our cohorts that anything is possible in this new world.

Maybe it just popped into your head unexpectedly this morning. Maybe it has been a nagging thought for years now.

“Should I get a master’s degree?”

It’s a question that crosses almost every professional’s mind, particularly for those looking to advance in a career, shake up their job prospects, or check something off their bucket list. Of postgraduate degrees, one of the most popular has quickly become the MBA—and for good reason.

A recent study by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that nine out of 10 MBA and business master’s graduates felt business school provided a strong return on investment. The value of the degree itself was just as favorable, with 90% rating it as good, outstanding or excellent.

Given the time and expense, it’s not a decision to take lightly. You need to weigh the reasons for going, determine how you’ll pay for schooling and assess the full scope of career benefits of the degree. It’s also important to find the right program and get to know the possible alternatives to advance your career.

Taking up the coursework

Once you do choose to move forward with a postgraduate degree, it can be advantageous in more ways than you might think. That’s especially true for those debating about earning an MBA through an online program. Here’s a quick breakdown of the ways an online MBA can positively impact your goals.

1. Flexibility. Consisting mostly of busy, often highly successful adults, online MBAs meet students where they are. No matter how many hours you might work in a day, online programs offer the flexibility necessary to pursue a postgraduate degree while maintaining a full-time job.

2. Suitability. Accredited online MBA programs are a good fit for most students. They provide the same academic rigor, admission standards and networking opportunities as on-campus learning. That’s certainly been the case at Washington University’s Olin Business School. Besides, there’s an integrity level that comes with such a prestigious program.

3. Knowledge. MBAs can up the ante on your knowledge base, allowing you to bring more to the table professionally. All the students in an online program say they’ve learned exponentially more than what they’ve gleaned in their professions. You have a chance of learning the nuances of running a business both nationally and internationally.

4. Mobility. MBAs can make you incredibly mobile, as far as where you can take the degree and what you can do with it. Many positions are unavailable without it. Even if this level of degree isn’t a prerequisite, earning one can serve as an indication of your motivation, ambition and hard work—all of which can be attractive to potential employers.

5. Accomplishment. The recognition that can come when attaining the level of education that an MBA offers—online or otherwise—is unmatched in many regards. Roughly two-thirds of MBA graduates advance at least one job level after obtaining a graduate business degree, according to the GMAC study. What’s more, the median income is 75% more than their undergraduate counterparts.

Deciding on an online MBA program

One of the biggest benefits of Washington University’s online MBA program is the learn.WashU platform, a proprietary learning management system where students access courses, classmates and instructors. Think of it as a learning environment mixed with a research network. Not only can you take part in class sessions and complete assignments but shape your learning experience to suit your specific needs.

To be sure, learn.WashU is different from other learning platforms like Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, and so on. The online course delivery would be a logical comparison, but learn.WashU also offers a difference in digital course design, faculty training, media production and digital publishing. Lifelong learning modules are also available to students.

In fact, student engagement with the learning platform has exceeded expectations. They’ve really taken to it. Ultimately, learn.WashU is a whole network of different components that students can draw from while they’re working through their online MBA programs. It has become a seamless experience and a highly valuable tool for students and faculty alike.

The platform also offers career resources, individualized to the student. It matches the school’s services to students’ unique needs by getting to know each student as a person. The team listens to your goals and aspirations and then uses this information to offer guidance on where to focus your attention. Trust that there’s always someone available to coach and mentor you to better ensure success.

Above all else, the program wants students to get their degrees, so much that faculty members are on the phone with online students at 11 p.m.—literally. Learn.WashU understands that you’re busy, working adults. As bright as you may be, you will need help. Perhaps you’ll need tutoring because of a difficult course. Maybe you just need a pep talk. Whatever the case, learn.WashU keeps you connected to whatever you need to achieve your degree.

Online MBA By the Numbers Graphic

Olin took online learning up a notch in January: We enrolled our first cohort for Olin’s new online MBA.

Of the 39 students enrolled, 46% are female. Some 38% come from outside of St. Louis. In all, the students were born in 10 different countries, and they represent 31 companies.

Patrick Moreton headshot
Patrick Moreton

Some of those companies are Bayer, Boeing, Bristol Myers Squibb, Chevron, Edward Jones, Google, Mastercard, Nike, Phillips 66, Schnucks, Washington University in St. Louis and World Wide Technology.

“I’m really excited about the diversity and the quality of the class,” said Patrick Moreton, professor of practice in strategy and management and the academic director for the online MBA program.

“This is a seasoned group of professionals working for a wide variety of really good companies. They bring a lot of experience to the discussions in the synchronous sessions, and the reports I’m getting from the faculty are that they are eager to share.”  

‘My experience has been great’

Olin’s program stands apart from other online MBAs with its focus: To prepare students for leadership in a digitally enabled world. The degree is specifically for those who want to use technology as a strategic advantage.

OMBA student Sophie Richards at her computer.
Sophia Richards, who is from Jamaica, is one of the 39 students in the first cohort of the online MBA program.

“So far, my experience has been great,” said student Sophia Richards, who is from Jamaica and lives in St. Louis. She is especially pleased, she said, “with the lessons on leveraging technology across business and the lessons on the value of understanding data, creating meaningful data and above all respecting the value of data.” 

Andrew Knight, professor of organizational behavior, said he is “blown away by the quality of students and the diversity of their past and current career experiences. These ingredients have led to rich asynchronous discussions online and boisterous, vibrant conversations during our live sessions.

“Students are already proving to be invaluable resources for one another,” he said. “It’s been a true joy to see this program come to life through this impressive cohort.”

Also this semester, Olin launched its online MS in Business Analytics. Nineteen students enrolled, including from the US Air Force and US Army. In all, they represent 14 companies, among them Amazon, Bayer, Centene, Edward Jones, Mastercard, WashU, Schnucks and Merck.

The value of online learning

When Mark Taylor became dean of the school in late 2016, he thought it was too late for Olin to enter the online MBA market because it seemed overcrowded. In fact, in 2016 US News published a list of 225 programs in the United States alone.

“All institutions have been forced into teaching online,” he told Poets & Quants in May 2021. “It has changed the perception of the value of online learning. The pace of acceptance and use of digital technology will be much faster because of the pandemic.”

Artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and the internet of things continue to reshape the delivery of products and services, and the online MBA meets the moment. The 30-month program uses prerecorded content mixed with interactive live sessions that focus on discussions.

Another exciting part of the online MBA is the Digital Impact Project, which is a journey of sorts. Students will use the skills and knowledge they’re gaining to develop a high-potential digital initiative. They will choose a focus—their current organization, an emerging technology, an industry segment—and create a project aspiration statement.

Each semester, they’ll apply new thinking and lessons learned from their courses. At the program’s end, they will have codified their learnings into a plan with the potential to make a difference in an organization, business or society.

To learn more about Olin’s online graduate certificates and degrees, join us March 2 for a virtual information session.

When wholesale changes on the supply side of the MBA marketplace converge with similar changes on the demand side, a new opportunity emerges—an opportunity WashU Olin is filling with its new online MBA program. That’s the message from Patrick Moreton, academic director for the program, which debuts in January.

Moreton delivered that message in a 24-minute video interview with Kristy Gray Bleizeffer, a business writer for Poets & Quants, on November 10.

On the demand side, “suddenly people had these supercharged sets of skills working in the virtual environment, which created an opportunity to rethink what you can do successfully in that environment,” said Moreton, who is also a professor of practice in strategy and management at Olin. Then, at the same time on the supply side, “our faculty obviously went through a huge, but really quite successful learning curve that gave them a very different set of tools than we’ve had in the past.”

These factors and more converged to inspire Olin’s new program—a full and robust MBA program that prepares students to lead an enterprise, but with a twist. It’s about preparing digitally enabled leaders who are prepared to strategically leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and even emerging technologies in the future as they guide the enterprise.

“How does new technology change the kinds of solutions that emerge for those sets of problems?” Moreton noted in his conversation with P&Q.

At the same time, the program remains true to Olin’s four pillars of excellence: values-based, data-driven decision-making; entrepreneurship and innovation; experiential learning; and global outlook. Given the global opportunity for the online MBA, Moreton said, Olin is well-positioned the draw on its worldwide network of business school partners.

Learn more about Olin’s online MBA program and how you can apply.

Watch the full interview below

Olin’s Patrick Moreton speaks with Kristy Gray Bleizeffer from Poets & Quants.