The Online MBA Experience: What sets MBA@UNC apart?
The Financial Times recently published an op-ed stating that virtual learning is critical to the business world. While many schools have yet to jump on the distance learning bandwagon, the author argues that "schools must embrace the digital revolution" or risk losing relevance to today's web-savvy student.
One of the biggest barriers to adopting online education is the notion that a program compromises quality in favor of scale. Additionally, it's difficult to imagine how networking and peer interactions translate into an online environment. Prospective students will often ask the following:
- "Am I really getting the same degree as the on-campus program?"
- "What's the format like?"
- "Will I have the opportunity to get to know my peers and professors?"
These are just a handful of relevant questions that come up in the conversation. Hopefully the following overview will paint a clearer picture of what the MBA@UNC experience is like and just how transformative online learning can be to the business world.
The reputation and quality of the degree program
Student enrolled in the MBA@UNC receive the same degree from UNC Kenan-Flagler as student enrolled in the full-time on campus program. "The MBA@UNC is designed for students who have the same qualities as students in our other programs. They're smart, successful, and they have a proven track record. They're looking for a program that fits their lives as opposed to having to fit their lives into a program," says Susan Cates, executive director of MBA@UNC.
The main difference between the online and brick-and-mortar experience is the medium through which the curriculum is delivered. Other than that, the faculty, course material, and student admissions criteria are equal in standards. Dean Jim Dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler has spoken to the school's commitment to quality and excellence several times. "We made a vow to ourselves that if we were going to do this new program that the caliber of the faculty, the quality of the curriculum and the caliber of the students – those three elements – would be present at exactly the that same high level as they are present with our other programs."
An Interactive Learning Environment
Unlike other online degree programs, MBA@UNC combines both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities as well as offline immersion experiences. The asynchronous part, as Professor Larry Chavis explains, allows students to review material that they might be struggling with. "For those students who aren't picking it up the first time, they can go through the material a second, third, or fourth time until they get to a level of understanding that we're seeking."
In addition to accessing course content 24/7, students will also meet with professors and peers during live class sessions, office hours, and work/study groups. MBA@UNC Professor Douglas Shackelford adds, "Everyone's face will be on the screen, instructors included. Everyone can basically live in the same virtual space at the same time.
Lastly, students will participate in two immersion weekends where they can network and meet peers in person. This experience coupled with the online component of the program will allow students to network on an unprecedented global scale.
Flexibility & Innovation
If relocating or leaving a job for two years is problematic, MBA@UNC just might be the program for you. Dean Jim Dean says, "The MBA@UNC will provide the most flexible top tier education in business that anyone has ever provided before." Whether an international student, parent, entrepreneur, or someone who simply loves his or her job, MBA@UNC affords students everywhere access to a top tier MBA program.
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