YSU’s MBA Program Shifts to Working Professionals

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The focus of the master of business administration degree at Youngstown State University has shifted from liberal arts majors who need an intensive course on the business world to working professionals who want to advance their careers.

The dean of the Williamson College of Business Administration and the director of its graduate program, Betty Jo Licata and Patrick J. Bateman respectively, met Monday with The Business Journal to provide more details on how the faculty of the Williamson College has restructured the curriculum and enlarged the scope of the program.

“We have more than revised the Williamson MBA program,” Bateman said. “We have re-invented it.”

“We redesigned our curriculum for the working professional,” Licata said, “someone who is working full-time and going to school part-time. … This will give them a greater opportunity to differentiate themselves in the workplace.”

The new curriculum should also make it easier for MBA candidates to earn professional certificates in various disciplines, for example, enterprise resource planning.

Ninety percent of the MBA candidates attend part-time and take two courses per semester, the dean said. Most part-timers complete their coursework in two to six years.

Under the new structure that takes effect this fall, all classes run eight weeks and carry two hours of credit. So the majority of students will take four courses per semester.

Beginning in August, a YSU student can earn an MBA entirely online – never once setting foot on campus – and the Williamson College has established a satellite campus at the Lorain County Community College beginning next January.

Williamson faculty will travel each Saturday to Elyria, site of Lorain County Community College, to teach their classes. Students there will attend eight hours of classes each Saturday.

YSU will be the sole provider of graduate business courses at Lorain County, Licata said. “Lorain County has a strong corporate community” and she is confident YSU can serve that community.

“Our faculty members are excited about this,” Licata said. Her “conservative” projection is 30 students will enroll. The Youngstown campus has 125 MBA candidates.

One aspect that hasn’t changed is a student must successfully complete 39 credit hours to earn an MBA. Another is that most classes will continue to of offered at night to accommodate the students’ schedules.

The new MBA program was designed to develop the core set of competencies needed to be more successful in the workplace, Bateman said. These encompass leadership, decision-making, management and strategic thinking.

Late last year the dean created a task force to study how the graduate program could be improved and increase enrollment, she said. They studied the MBA programs at other universities and interviewed employers before returning with their recommendations.

Among the changes in the curriculum are courses in ethics and social responsibility, leadership per se, business communications (including social media) and professionalism. These aspects will remain in others courses on management, marketing, accounting and finance and human resources.

The new curriculum “is about more than just doing your job better,“ Bateman emphasizes. “It’s about developing the tools you need to understand and analyze the problem.”

In classes on leadership, for example, students should learn how to become leaders as part of a team, Bateman said. “It’s important they understand they are considering human resources needs as much as financial resources” when they approach a problem. The class should equip them with the knowledge and framework they need,” he said.   

MBA candidates should learn their style of leadership as well as “how the requirements of leadership change as you move up the management ladder,” the director of the MBA program said. “CPAs become partners because of their leadership skills, not just because they’re great accountants. It’s the same for engineers.”

Admission to YSU’s graduate business program has also changed. Professionals with baccalaureates can apply for a waiver of the standard graduate school admissions test – either the Graduate Management Aptitude Test or Graduate Record Exam – provided they achieved a high grade point average in undergraduate school, at least a 3.0. Those going on to graduate school from undergraduate school will still need to take the GMAT or GRE.

Pictured: Betty Jo Licata, dean of Youngstown State University's Williamson College of Business Administration, and Patrick J. Bateman, director of its graduate program.

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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