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Central Mass. schools serve up MBA options for busy professionals

BY SUSAN SHALHOUB

9/3/2018
Students at Clark University in Worcester

Executives – or those on an executive track – are drawn to pursue a master of business administration degree for different reasons.
“Sometimes they just want to challenge themselves,” said Joseph McAloon, chair of the MBA program and online MBA program at Fitchburg State University.
Those looking to ramp up their value with their company can earn as much as $25,000 more per year, McAloon said, by earning an MBA. The MBA's functional versatility in today's job market adds to its appeal.
Framingham State, Nichols College in Dudley, Fitchburg State University and Clark University in Worcester all said the average length of time to complete an MBA is about two years, even as they vary in their approaches.

Clark University has seven MBA concentrations, with academic credit figured as course units. Most Clark courses are one unit, equivalent to four semester credit hours, or 180 hours of engaged academic time. Its professional-track MBA – for those already in the workforce and looking to advance – is $60,615 in tuition, with 13.5 units required. There is no time limit to finish, and class sizes are about 15-20 students.

Hudson resident Ryan Cohen, a U.S. Army veteran with two small children, began flipping houses after his military service was completed in 2003.
With the Southborough location not far from his home, he went to Clark for a general MBA with a plan to continue buying and reselling real estate. Along the way, however, he changed his mind, and with a partner, is now in the funding phase of a startup medical marijuana cultivation company.
“I probably wouldn't consider doing this without education from Clark, I felt it was too daunting,” Cohen said. “Now I have different reasons to interact with people and crunch numbers.”

Fitchburg State offers 17-month, accelerated MBA programs in human resources, management and accounting. The courses can be done in as little as 12 months, said McAloon, though two years is average and MBA students get up to six years to complete the degree and earn the required 30 credits. The programs begin on a seven-week rolling admissions system.
“Students prefer online … the wave of the future is for online education,” McAloon said, though traditional classes and hybrid studies area also offered.
MBA courses are offered on campus on Saturdays and evenings to help busy executives. Courses are $957 each, with the accelerated courses at $1,251 each. Each course is worth three credits.

Nichols College has a majority of its MBA students online. The school practices the HyFlex design model of learning, where students can be flexible in how they learn, whether in class, online, or both. The system is customizable.
“Some people like to be in a classroom. Others think they want to be there virtually, so they can still make a meeting at work or be with their children,” rather than sacrificing time to be in a certain place at a certain time, said Kerry Calnan, executive director of graduate and professional studies.
The Nichols MBA tuition is $25,200, with 36 credits required. A student can take up to eight years to complete the program.
Nichols wants students to finish an MBA with an understanding of the global marketplace, Calnan said. It requires a global-awareness class and offers a 4+1 MBA program where 27 credits are completed at Nichols and nine credits in residence at a management school in The Netherlands. Though likely more difficult for those in the workforce, it gives students an overseas master in management degree as well as the Nichols MBA.
But online-only students also get a global perspective, with featured consultants from around the world, said Calnan. The online program is interactive, so all parties can see one another and meet virtually in class and one on one from anywhere, whether it's across the world or across town.
“We've seen animals, we've seen little children,” from the classroom in Dudley via online links, Calnan laughs.

Framingham State University professors, like most of their MBA students, work full-time in industry, keeping abreast of trends.

Framingham has an MBA in management and just added a biotechnology operations concentration, which will include an industry senior-advisory board. The new MBA, said Steven Moysey, MBA program director, is a direct response to the marketplace, and came about during a conversation with school Biotechnology Director Sunny Tam. The new MBA has workforce demand already built in, said Moysey, adding to its value.

“Massachusetts has one of the highest concentrations of biotech companies … so we thought, 'Why not tap into that?' and offer an MBA track for those in biotech who want to move into management,” Moysey said.

Moysey said the majority of MBA students are mid-career executives.

The school keeps class capacity at 25 students, and each course is $1,455.

MBA students must have a few years in the workforce in order to take part in Framingham State's blended program, said Moysey.

“We all learn from each other, with students even giving feedback on each other's presentations, for example, collaboration just like in the real world,” he said.