Paula Ann Solis
Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business is moving forward in the digital age with the launch of a fully online master of business administration degree program that begins in May 2014.
The online MBA degree, which is now accepting applications through the business school’s website, is a 12-month program that will be offered for $50,000, which is a $40,000 savings from the traditional program.
The savings, along with the broadening of students served by Baylor outside of the Waco area, are two reasons Dr. Gary Carini, associate dean of graduate programs for the business school, said he is excited for the program’s launch.
“We’ve been planning this for about 18 months,” Carini said. “This is not just a business school project. This is a joint project with financial aid, the cashier’s office, the registrar’s office and the Graduate School. It took an entire team to take us from initial planning to where we are now.”
Baylor’s online MBA program is unlike others offered around the nation because there has not been one that distinctly works to maintain a Christian and ethical component, Carini said.
Pattie Orr, vice president for information technology and dean of university libraries, said this effort by Baylor to open up to the online learning community is charged in large part by the Teaching, Learning & Technology Committee which reports to the Office of the Provost. The committee considers technological advancements in education.
This past year, Dr. Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost, charged the committee with exploring online courses and how best they could be incorporated at Baylor.
“We must keep our eyes on the horizon to anticipate genuine challenges—and changes,” Davis said in her opening letter of the Teaching, Learning & Technology Committee’s June 2013 report “Engaging the Future of Higher Education.”
The committee, which is made up of faculty from each school within Baylor and several graduate students, heard from several speakers and considered data that suggested the next move for online learning should target post-graduate and professional degrees.
“Lots of research, talking and student feedback went into this,” Orr said. “If we were going to complete this we wanted the same rigor and quality we have on campus.”
Baylor already has an online doctorate program used within the School of Social Work and, at the beginning of this spring semester, launched the Semester Online program that offeres virtual courses from colleges around the nation.
Orr said the feedback from students on having online options has been positive. The possibility of online courses during the summer of 2015 for undergraduates is something the committee is considering and researching, she said.
“I myself, as a professional, think this is really significant for people who work and who really want a Baylor degree,” Orr said. “I think this MBA program, even though its online, will be distinctly Baylor and very successful.”
To help Baylor recruit students and covert the degree program to an online application, the university has hired Academic Partnerships, a company that specializes in helping institutions benefit from technology, according to the company’s website.
Carini said, although it is an online program, it is charged by Baylor professors who will work closely with students just as they do in the classroom. In fact, Carini said he is excited to see which online tools prove to be helpful and later incorporated in on-campus classes.
One aspect he said is particularly excited about is the ability to interact with students that, in the past, might have chosen a school other than Baylor because of distance issues. Carini said undergraduates at admissions fairs would often inquire if Hankamer School of Business had an online option for graduate students.
“We can finally answer ‘yes,’” he said.