Newsmaker Q&A: UNC touts flexibility in new MBA program

The Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado announced in August that it will add a master of business administration degree next fall to the curriculum offered at the school’s Loveland campus. Don Gudmundson, dean of the college, told the Business Report how the college plans to distinguish the program from Colorado State University’s, and why the master’s degree is the new bachelor’s.

Question: Why start an MBA program now?

Answer: A look at the history of the College of Business will answer this question. In addition to an undergraduate program, the college once had graduate programs but none was accredited. The college’s leadership made some difficult decisions that included eliminating the graduate programs to make the college a better candidate for accreditation. Accreditation by AACSB International was received in 1992. After that time, the college received a number of quality awards during the 1990s, culminating in its receipt of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from the Office of the President of the United States in 2004.

As with any organization, we continually evaluate the marketplace and see if there are opportunities for products or services that we could provide. Through our analysis, and taking into account the recognition we have received for providing a quality business education, we believe there is an opportunity for us to provide an MBA program that will be attractive to prospective students.

Q: What will the UNC program offer to differentiate itself from the other major Colorado universities?

A: Fundamentally, the educational experience we provide is different. Our focus is on the students and giving them learning opportunities in a “real world” or “applied” environment. What our students learn in the MBA program they will immediately be able to apply in the workplace. In addition, the program will allow students to choose an emphasis area as part of their degree. They will receive a general MBA or they can identify an area that they wish to pursue. The initial emphasis area offerings are under development right now.

Q: Your website says the design will be flexible. Can you explain what you mean by that?

A: Many MBA programs require students to progress through the program at a prescribed pace, or they are only daytime, or only on-campus programs. Our flexibility comes in a few ways. Courses will be offered in the evening and on weekends to meet a working adult’s schedule. Students will be able to progress through the program at their own pace. If their work or life schedule becomes too busy, they will be able to take a semester off and come back when they are ready to continue. In addition, our program will be offered at UNC’s Loveland Center at Centerra, with online offerings coming in the future. This provides a very convenient location and delivery method.

Q: How will UNC keep its courses and professors relevant to the constantly evolving workforce?

A: Classrooms with working adults as students have a dynamic and interactive learning environment. This learning environment provides faculty with opportunities to explore current practices in their discipline area due to the exchange of ideas and experiences that the students bring to the classroom. Teaching working adults requires that faculty members stay up to date or they will not be successful. This is what we expect of those teaching in the Monfort College of Business MBA program.

Q: Why is now a good time to get an MBA?

A: Today, the bachelor’s degree is reaching a similar status to that of the high school diploma of 50 years ago. It now is necessary to have a master’s level of education to be considered for a significant number of entry-level jobs. In addition, career advancement often requires an advanced degree. Often middle- and upper-level management positions will either require or prefer a master’s degree to be considered as a viable candidate for a position. The MBA is considered the degree that prepares people for upper-level managerial positions.

- Maggie Shafer

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