Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 5:18 am | Fair 43º


Local News

Universities Make MBA Programs Work for Local Working Professionals

Cal Poly's Santa Barbara courses will begin this fall, and Pepperdine is in talks with the UCSB Alumni Association for a class on campus

Applications are being accepted for the fully accredited graduate program of Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business, which will make its Santa Barbara debut this fall.

The school will offer an evening program for working professionals to earn a master’s in business administration in two years. Two-thirds of the class content will be conducted live at the Canary Hotel, with classes from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and one-third of the content will be delivered to students’ desktops through online content.

The program is “an underserved market for working professionals for whom an MBA can be a valuable opportunity,” said Brian Tietje, associate dean of the Orfalea College of Business.

The classes offered this fall are Managerial Finance and the Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business, which is “a good way to get started in understanding business in its context,” Tietje said.

The Managerial Finance class, he says, will provide the money aspects of business, with the Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business providing the legal aspect of business.

“It’s a balance of a number-intense class (finance) and the other class (legal) is more conceptual, (so it’s a) balance of content,” Tietje said.

The cost is $500 per unit, which includes textbooks and parking, with the total cost of earning the degree about $30,000.

The program targets working professionals who already have jobs, but who are seeking advancement in their careers and need to learn more skills to apply themselves as managers.

It also can provide additional education for an individual with an undergraduate degree in something besides business who is working for a firm and needs further understanding of aspects such as financial statements and marketing, and gives them the skills to move up, whether it’s to a higher position or owning the business.

Pepperdine University is also looking to move into the local market for MBAs. Its sponsorship with the UCSB Alumni Association may eventually lead to an MBA program on the UCSB campus.

Patrick Merna, director of business development for the UCSB Alumni Association, describes the relationship as a good match. “We’re lucky to be with a great program with a similar vision,” he said.

It’s estimated that the program will come within the next couple of months to a year.

John Mooney, associate dean of Fully Employed Programs at Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business and an associate professor of information systems, said Pepperdine is finalizing discussions with the UCSB Alumni Association to host classes on Wednesday nights at the Mosher Alumni House beginning in January.

Merna said one of the advantages of the program would be connecting Pepperdine’s Graziadio School with the UCSB Alumni Association, which “gets you reaching a whole new networking group.”

In addition, “Pepperdine and UCSB complement one another,” Mooney said. “UCSB offers nationally recognized programs in engineering and the sciences, with particular emphasis in innovation, but does not currently have a graduate school of business. Pepperdine offers a fully accredited and international recognized business school with a strong foundation in innovation-driven entrepreneurship, but currently does not have an engineering school.”

Officials envision the program being offered one night at the Mosher Alumni House on the UCSB campus and possibly one Saturday a week at the Westlake campus.

“This is a new category for us,” Merna said. “We haven’t worked with other schools.”

The program would not be any different than the one Pepperdine has been doing for the past 40 years. The Fully Employed MBA program is an evening and weekend program for students who wish to work full time while pursuing a degree. It can be completed in two years. The curriculum consists of 52 semester units of coursework, delivered on a trimester basis.

A Pepperdine MBA marketing class is working with UCSB researchers, who are working on a new drug delivery system to identify new business opportunities. Students enrolled in the Fully Employed MBA program in Santa Barbara, like the other Fully Employed MBA students, will have an opportunity to work with the Education-to-Business program. Mooney said they will be able to participate in at least one E2B project in their marketing course, and have additional opportunities for applied project work in other courses.

Merna said he sees the program attracting many people within the university campus itself. With more than 3,000 faculty and staff at UCSB, as well as technology-based businesses such as Citrix and Raytheon in nearby Goleta, “it totally makes sense to be right there.”

Mooney said he’s excited to see the program grow in Santa Barbara. “We have evolved with Santa Barbara and recognize the county as communities that attract companies committed to its prosperity, innovation-minded entrepreneurs, and residents with a unique local affinity,” he said.

Like Merna, he also sees the program attracting individuals in the technology sector.

“For us, Santa Barbara offers the perfect environment for job-creation and economic development that is spurred by access to advanced management education,” Mooney said, “Our recently enhanced entrepreneurship concentration will be of particular interest to those with undergraduate degrees in engineering and technology who aspire to developing and launching their own business ventures.”

Pepperdine, a nationally recognized school, has received merits such as international rankings by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, as well as the business journals of San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles and Orange County.

Pepperdine’s partnership with UCSB’s Alumni Association creates a unique opportunity to provide valuable continued education that would allow graduates to “refocus and extend the high quality and internationally acclaimed undergraduate education they received at UCSB with a high quality and internationally acclaimed MBA degree that will expand their business acumen, develop their management and leadership competencies, and advance their careers or ability to launch their own new business venture through our highly innovative entrepreneurship program,” Mooney said.

Although UCSB and Pepperdine have been exploring this option since 2003, it could be the opportune moment to bring the plan to life.

“Graduate school is becoming automatic,” Merna said. “It’s not even an option for most students. (They) just (go) straight to grad school.”

That is true for many students fresh out of undergraduate school. With more students struggling to find a job right out of college, many choose to seek a graduate degree not only to strengthen their appeal as a job candidate but because they are left with no other option, with job opportunities scarce.

In January, The New York Times ran an article titled, “Recession Spurs Interest in Graduate, Law Schools.”

According to the Educational Testing Service, the number of people who took the Graduate Record Examination increased to a record number in 2009.

“When job creation slows, there’s an increase in the number of people who pursue a graduate degree,” said David Payne, the Educational Testing Service’s vice president and chief operating officer for college and graduate programs.

Law schools have reported an increase in enrollment, with some schools reporting record highs, such as Cornell University’s Law School, with a 44 percent increase.

Considering there is no MBA program within 50 miles of Santa Barbara, these schools may be making a smart move into a fertile market.

Noozhawk intern Lindsey Weintraub will be a sophomore at the University of San Diego in the fall. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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