“Business,” said Dr. Beth Polin, “is an ever-changing field.”
And that is why Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Business, in a spirit of continuous improvement, has redesigned its Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree program.
The redesigned program, two years in the making, launches this fall and features a number of changes that grew out of “extensive research” conducted with business executives, faculty, current MBA students, and undergraduate business and non-business students.
The new program offers compressed eight-week courses, a modern curriculum focused on building both technical and soft skills, stackable certificates, and interaction with business executives. No pre-requisite courses are required for entry into the program, so a variety of undergraduate and work experience backgrounds are accepted. All classes are taught face-to-face in the evenings by an award-winning business faculty, and the curriculum is offered in two-year, three-year and four-year formats, providing students greater flexibility.
“The way we managed employees and projects a decade ago is not how we manage today,” said Polin, an assistant professor of management who chaired the MBA redesign team. “As such, it is critical that we keep our business programs consistently updated, and it was time we redesigned out MBA curriculum.”
The product of that redesign, she added, is “a forward-thinking design that will prepare out students to be leaders in their field, equipped with both the technical expertise and soft skills needed to be successful. Our students will graduate with real project experience and sharpened critical and creative thinking skills.”
Courses are grouped in sets of four, with each set accompanied by a “Design Thinking” seminar, an experiential learning opportunity for students that capitalizes on critical and creative thinking. As they proceed through the program, students will earn three stackable certificates; completion of the program, then, is the MBA degree.
“This is a selling point for students because completing the program comes with three certificates in addition to the degree,” Polin said. “Plus, if students or employers only want a certain set of classes, they can take only courses required to earn that certificate.”
Students can choose a two-year, three-year or four-year schedule. “The curriculum is the same for each,” Polin said. “Only the pace is different.” For example, students in the two-year program are taking two classes at any given time. In the four-year program, students are taking one class at any given time. “This allows them to choose the pace that fits their work-life balance preferences.”
Polin said the redesign team benchmarked “not only our peer institutions in Kentucky, but also highly-ranked MBA programs from across the country, and we incorporated students’ and employers’ most desired features of such programs.”
Eastern’s MBA degree program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a distinction held by less than 5 percent of the world’s business programs.
“School of Business faculty were active and enthusiastic in the redesign, especially Dr. Trish Isaacs and Dr. Tom Martin, who worked with me on the redesign team,” Polin said. “Dr. Tom Erekson, our dean, was supportive throughout the process as well.”