MBA Degree Program Overview
Cheryl Oliver, Director of Graduate Programs in Business
Learn more about WSU’s online Master in Business Administration degree program, including what it’s like to learn online, how an MBA can help you reach your career goals, and how and when to apply. Topics included:
- Washington State University & the College of Business
- WSU MBA online curriculum, faculty, unique opportunities, and degree outcomes
- Comparison of EMBA & MBA programs
- The online student experience
- Admission criteria and process
- Interactive Q & A
Moderator: Hello everyone, thank you for joining us today for the Washington State University online master of business administration program updates and information session. My name is Monica and I’ll be your host for this event. Before we begin, I’d like to go over some logistics. In order to minimize background noise, all phone lines have been sent to listen only mode. You can ask questions at any time by entering it into the chat box to your right. All questions will be responded to at the end of the webinar. We will address as many questions as possible, however due to the time constraints if we’re not able to address your questions, our enrollment advisors will follow up with you in the next few days.
Now I would like to go ahead and introduce our panelist today. We have Cheryl Oliver, director of graduate programs in business at Washington State University. Cheryl oversees all graduate programs operations including marketing, recruitment, admissions, advising, graduation and placement. Cheryl, I would like to go ahead and hand it over to you.
Cheryl Oliver: Thank you very much Monica, thank you for that introduction. As Monica mentioned, my name is Cheryl Oliver. I am the director of graduate programs for Washington State University for the college of business. We do offer a Ph.D. degree here on the Pullman campus. We have our MBA online at Vancouver and Tri-Cities. Two masters of accounting programs and the executive MBA. So, we have a very robust suite of graduate level programs here in the college and have a full suite of undergraduate programs here as well in many different disciplines.
Today what I’d like to do is talk to you about the college of business at WSU. I’ll talk about the online MBA and the foundation courses that are now available as part of the program. For those of you that may have asked for some assistance with the program or thought about joining the program earlier, you may have seen that those foundation courses had to be completed at maybe community college through your undergraduate degree, through some tech stop options, so we’re very pleased to be able to offer you some courses to help you get ready for and finish the core content.
We’ll also talk about this opportunity for an international study abroad trip with the MBA program. We will talk about the requirements for the GMAT waiver and then I will talk to you about the concentrations that are available in the program, which should give you an opportunity to hone in on an area of expertise as you complete the degree. I think I can cover that agenda in between 30 minutes and 45 minutes and then that will open up the window there at the end for questions and answers. Monica will go ahead and feed me those questions based on things that you have been submitting. So, as we are going through this presentation, please be sure to post your questions to her. She’ll either get those for me and give me the most frequently asked and we’ll plug through those. And as she mentioned before, if any of your questions are not answered, we’ll be sure to have an enrollment advisor get back in touch with you to answer any specific questions that you have.
With that, the college of business at WSU has over 50 years of excellence in graduate management education. And when we say that, we mean that we’ve been offering the MBA degree specifically for now more than 55 years. And some schools have actually started the MBA degree was the first business degree and they started offering their MBA and then worked in their undergraduate. WSU is a land grant institution, started with the undergraduate and so then built on that MBA program there in 1957. So, we’ve bene doing this for quite a while now.
We’ve also, as an institution, had over 20 years of perfecting our online degree program. So, for any of you that attended WSU’s business programs in the past, you know that there was some television, telecommunication system set up at different locations across the state where people could come to campuses or to libraries or to community colleges and interface with a live class at that time.
We have since developed an entirely online model using the angel learning platform and I will get into some detail later about how we executive all those classes and what kind of experience you would have in the classroom as a part of this program. I think one of the extra special things about this is the way that we’ve waited long enough to be able to ensure that we were giving the full deal to all of our students. We certainly didn’t rush into this.
We also have a very strong commitment to conducting the highest quality of research. And so you will note that many of your faculty, especially graduate faculty, are engaged on prolific research activity. And a lot of that is actually used in industry and used in teaching other students across the country about how to conduct business.
We pride ourselves in our world class education programs and providing a forum for deliberation and innovation and I’ll talk more about that in talking about the MBA program. But we do ask all of our MBA students to complete a business plan rather than a thesis or complete comprehensive exams out their final degree deliverable. And so we give you coaching through the program to make sure that you’re able to fine tune that. Maybe it’s something that would work for your company and maybe it’s something that you’ve always dreamed of doing. And so we have some faculty here with a lot of experience and expertise in assisting you with that.
And then, of course, we have an international network of corporate alliances. And so you’ll have an opportunity through your class to network with other people and to interface too if you choose to do some of the activities that we send your way, to interface with these people as well.
So, the WSU college of business is accredited by the AACSB and as you’re shopping your schools you may see some other acronyms out there. The two most important ones that you should be looking for are AACSB, which is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and EQUIS if you’re looking at European schools, that’s E-Q-U-I-S. Some schools with the European presence have chosen to get the EQUIS accreditation and some have not. So, you might see that across the board. It’s a newer trend happening, but you’ll frequently see other online programs and institutions touting their regional accreditation and we also have that regional accreditation but we’ve gone to the extra step of having a group of our peers or better institutions, highly successful schools that come to us and they review all of our materials, our curriculum, our syllabi, our assessment of student learning, our faculty, our faculty qualification, how many faculty per students we have in class. They’re very strict about how well we are adhering to the policies and procedures that we say that we have in place.
And they’re very strict about looking at our curriculum and making sure that our curriculum is on bar with what other business schools are doing and with what the market needs and they’re very critical. And so it’s a very, very rigorous accreditation to receive and WSU is only one of 400 schools across the country that has our Ph.D., our masters of accounting, our MBA and all of our undergraduate programs accredited by the AACSB. And when I say one of 400, that might seem like wow, 400 that’s a lot of schools, but when you consider the fact that there are more than 4,000 schools offering business curriculum in the United States alone, we’re a fine, fine percentage of people that actually have that rate. So, 10% is a very, very good rate when you’re considering other schools.
So, when you’re thinking about why the WSU online program, you will get an MBA from Washington State University. You won’t get an online MBA diploma, you won’t get a diploma that says WSU distance, you will get the standard diploma that the students that attend in Vancouver, Richland or Pullman would also receive. You have the same faculty, you have the same curriculum and the same class sizes which are very, very small. So, we usually cap the class at about 25 students and then within that space add another instructor for another 25 students. So, we want to make sure that you’re not in a position where you’re being overlooked or don’t have an opportunity to engage with your peers or the faculty.
You’ll have the same assignments and group projects and current event discussions, as well as networking opportunities. And when I say this, you might think gosh there are people sitting in 16 weeks, three hours per week and these are seven week courses, how does that possibly transfer over? Well, in all of our coursework, what we do is we ask the faculty to take the material that is in their class and look at how that maps specific learning goals, rather than just to grab every article out of the New York Times, every article out of the Wall Street Journal, every YouTube video that they’ve seen, every case that they’ve seen and shove in just because it seems relevant. We really ask them to pinpoint what matters in this class, what do the students absolutely need to know and how we’re going to deliver in a way that’s meaningful to them and give them an opportunity to dive down into that material to become proficient in it.
So, when I say that it’s exactly the same, it is. You’ll notice that a lot of the interaction that you’re doing in the coursespace is more self-paced. This program, as I mentioned, is entirely online. You can learn from anywhere, any time as long as you have an internet connection. And one of the things to consider when you’re doing that is yes, we do have the seven week courses and they are entirely online and, so to speak, self-paced. But that doesn’t mean that you would log in and on your own complete those seven weeks of work in one week. That means that each week there are specific deliverables that are due. Sometimes you may be working with a group. Sometimes you may be working individually.
Your faculty member will always have an opportunity for you to engage live with them at least once a week. And what they will do at the beginning of the week is poll your class to see when everyone’s most likely available, and they’ll hold what they call illuminate sessions. In the illuminate session is very similar to this WebEx, except that you would be able to see your professor if they were using a web camera and let them go through some problems, maybe they can work them on the computer for you and show them to you and answer questions related to the course. So, they will be there each week if you want to meet with them. And those are not required meetings, they are opportunities for you to talk with them.
While it is fully online, there are also a number of recorded lectures, videos, narrated PowerPoints and all of those are done in preparation for your specific course. It wasn’t something that was done two or three years ago and just plugged back in online. They’re constantly retooled to meet up with what’s current for your term.
So you can complete the degree in as little as 24 months and I’ll talk a little bit more about that later and I think I just talked about an asynchronous learning platform where you’re going to be able to log in when it’s convenient for you, but of course you do have those specific deliverables in the seven weeks.
Once you go through the admission process, as an expected student in the program, you’ll have a student support services person who will be your advisor through the program. And so they will give you academic advising indicating to you what forms are due for the graduate school towards graduation, what classes are coming up, when to enroll. They’ll be making sure you’ve got your paths to complete. Going through that entire process to make sure that you have everything you need to be ready to go.
They’ll also have live 24/7 technical support available to you, but if at some point in time you are online and you are working on your class and it’s after normal business hours, someone will be to assist you if something’s not working quite right. Like I mentioned before, we will provide financial aid counseling. Please do note if you are considering applying for financial aid for the program, it’s very important that you fill out a FASA as soon as you apply so that the federal government and WSU can start communicating together about your file and making sure that everything is in order. After you fill out that FASA, there will be a number of other pieces that you need to complete to make sure that your award package is delivered on time for that first day of class when your tuition must have been paid by.
So, even if you’re thinking now you fill out the FASA. Honestly, a little personal story we have a daughter who just finished a year of high school and we had her fill out the FASA just so we could know based on today’s tuition rates what her expected family contribution could be. There’s no limit to how many times you fill out the FASA, it won’t affect your credit. And it’s very important that you’re very aware of what your aid award would be if that’s a concern. So, I can’t stress that enough.
We will provide assistance with registration if you’re having any issues there. We’ll be sure to help you get into those classes and it won’t be like your undergraduate or maybe any other opportunities where classes have been full. We have capacity, we have scalability and we will add in additional instructors if we exceed that 25 per section in a course. So, don’t ever feel like you won’t graduate on time because we wouldn’t have courses available to you. They will all be there.
And you will be able to rewatch your lectures and reread discussions as many times as you like. Though the limited sessions that I mentioned earlier are also transcribed and the recordings are posted in the course space, so if you do happen to miss that session but you really wanted to see what questions other people were asking, there is an opportunity for you to go online and review that material. And, of course the angel learning platform is the one stop shop for your assignments, your test scores, your online resources and the library and some reference materials are separate, but still all available online.
In the MBA program you will have an opportunity to network with both our faculty and students. As I mentioned before, your instructors will be engaged with you. They are asked to respond to all of your correspondence, as long as it’s related to your coursework and within 24 hours of the receipt of your request. And then they do get your grades and materials back to you within 72 hours so you can constantly be working in __________.
Our professors do interact with our students regularly in the course space through the message boards. So, they may pose a question and ask you to give some perspectives and ask your colleagues to give perspective. And the faculty will frequently interject their thoughts as well giving you an opportunity to get to know them.
We do have an active online student government and not specific to the MBA, specific to all online students, so there’s a really great opportunity there for you to engage if that’s something that you’re interested in. And the online student government does arrange social gatherings. You know I had a great opportunity to go over to Tacoma and meet some of our current students and some future students at an activity that was there. We had a great breakfast and a lunch and a charity project and we were able to visit some of the museums together. So, there are some opportunities for people that would like to be able to engage with WSU.
The other thing that is very special about WSU is that we have access to the alumni association at the student level. So, for just $20 a year, you can join that and you can interface with alumni wherever you are. So, if you happen to be outside of the state of Washington anywhere globally, we have alumni groups. And so perhaps you want to watch a WSU-Stanford football game but you’re going to be in Chengdu, China, you can connect with a group there and meet up to watch that football game with those people and have some fellow cougs to have some fellowship with. So, I highly encourage all of our students to join the alumni association. For $20 a year there are tons of discounts on travel, food, at various stores and an opportunity to get career counseling through that group. They have some different tools there, online tools. And to be able, as I mentioned, to network with all of the alumni.
I’ll take some time now to talk about the program format specifically. It is a two-year 24-month program in terms of the core curriculum. We do have some foundation courses that I’ll talk a little bit about as we go through the presentation and I’ll talk about the different ways to meet those. When you’re in the MBA program, you’re only in one class at a time and that’s because there’s some research that says when we have adult learners managing their family life, their work lives and school, placing them in three classes puts them in triage mode. Every day that they’re working towards one class it’s just to get that deliverable in before they go to work on the next class. And so the ability to absorb and become proficient in the various material is imperative. We specifically designed our program so that you only will be in one class for seven weeks at a time and that’s all you’ll be concentrating on. That’s exclusive of the capstone which I’ll talk about briefly.
When you are going through those seven week courses, you’ll end up taking two per WSU semester. And so you’ll typically have a week break between courses or an extra-long break at the end of the semester before spring term or the summer term starts. And that varies depending on university, holidays and other calendared holidays.
The nine core course credits are three different classes in strategic leadership, two in management and innovation and four in functional business tools and then there are three electives as part of the program. And those three electives are where you would then focus in for your concentration. Your final presentation, as I mentioned before, is the business plan and you’ll get an opportunity about halfway through the MBA to start really diving in on your feasibility study with your instructor for seven weeks. Then you’ll have a break of about 21 weeks where you’ll be able to do some work intermittently and through your breaks to work on plugging in pieces of the different courses that you’ve had in your business plan. And then toward the end of your MBA program, you’ll have a much longer course that overlaps to others where you’ll be doing little bits and pieces on that business plan. And then on the final term, you’ll be polishing that up for a committee review.
So, even now as you’re going through the application process, if there’s something you’ve always dreamed of doing, it’s good to start jotting down some notes now about what that would look like that when you get into that first session, you can start looking for all of the parts and pieces that the instructor will ask of you. I think one of the most valuable pieces of the portfolio that you will get through this program, certainly all of the coursework is very important and certainly you could write a business plan without it. But when you match the coursework with the business plan you’ll have an MBA level business plan that could be delivered to venture capitalists or angel investors or some other group and would be something that they should want to fund. So, certainly want to make sure that you have a good, good tool there in your tool belt.
The six foundation courses are as follows: foundations in operations management; foundations in business law; introduction to financial and managerial accounting; managerial economics, which includes micro and macro economics; a foundations in finance course; and a foundations in marketing. The prerequisite course to all of those is a statistics course, which most people form most majors have had. Your enrollment advisor or myself can gladly look at those classes and make sure they suffice before having you enroll in these other classes because we do want you to be successful.
These foundation courses had not previously been something students could take as a part of the MBA. Students would have had to tried for community course classes or maybe taken some class which is that test out option. Maybe worked with us on a Pearson option to do a pre-test, self-study coast test to show proficiency in this material at an 80% or a B level. So, we had all kinds of ways that people could try to fulfill these in part of engineers, MDs, nurses, communication majors. Anyone that’s a non-business major on this call, that could have been a big labor of love to go through to try to get all of those in order for enrollment in the core.
At this time, we’re offering them now and so please, if you haven’t already talked to an enrollment advisor about being able to finish these out, they are only five weeks. And so, instead of that seven week model, you can take three in a semester to knock as many of them out as you can at a rapid rate before enrolling in the core MBA program courses.
We are very, very pleased to introduce the international business trip opportunity. This is brand new to the online MBA. We have done this with the face to face students for a number of years. The executives have had a separate experience internationally as well. And so this trip here is a great opportunity for you to be in immersed in business studies, to go see some of the sights that you would usually see if you were there as a tourist. We certainly don’t want to make this all business and no fun. But business is fun. And then we certainly want to introduce you to the local cuisine. We’ll make sure that you have an opportunity to meet some of our students on site at that location and then give you some free time as well.
So, to give you an example of a typical study abroad opportunity there are about 10 days in time. Sometimes a little bit shorter, maybe seven. Usually, airfare, the entire trip including logging, meals and your outing, maybe a couple meals on your own, usually runs between $5-$8,000. We try to keep it very affordable. We don’t take care of any of the airfare because we found that many students have miles or other plans that they can use for their travel. So, that is a part of that – take that price there with an estimation of the airfare being between $1,200 and $2,000 when we look at that budget. So, very reasonable when you think of that airfare being half to a quarter of the entire budget.
We do have a center in Switzerland and we do have a university center in Chengdu, China. So we have the opportunity to go either location and right now for our trip we’re trending towards China. When we take students there we’ll usually have some classroom time with our students from China and they’re usually at the professional level maybe 3-5 years working experience or more. I know many of them have 20 plus years and so they’re always having to interface with our students and offer an opportunity to connect with someone in China and have a colleague after you return back home who you can call on when you’re going through your work and if you need any professional guidance advice or looking someone to partner or introduce your company too.
We also make sure to take you to several different companies and what we try and do when we do that is look at the group of students that we have and ask what kind of industry they’re in and then make sure that we’re introducing you to some industries that are either of interest of the group because it’s outside of that box or it’s of interest to the group because that’s where many of the people are already currently working. So, maybe it’s logistics, maybe it’s food processing, maybe it’s electricity, maybe it’s some kind of retail or production group. So, there are lots of different things that we can look at when we’re going abroad and helping to make sure that we’re tailoring the trip to the group.
The other piece of that is that when we do the sightseeing tours, we do those together. So, we try and get a discount and we try and get the inside scoop. We don’t try and bus everybody to a location and say okay go and figure it out. We try and get a guide so that we can take you through and get you a good level of introduction there. So, I highly encourage you and I’ve had an opportunity to take students abroad now three times and every single time I’ve seen people whose lives be changed and their horizons expanded and some really great friendships and partnerships that have come out of that as well. So, if it doesn’t seem that feasible to you now, I encourage you to explore it a little bit more and consider what the summer, a year out from now might look like if you were starting this fall.
Many applicants have started asking us about the opportunity for a GMAT waiver. And you know, the GMAT is proven to be a good predictor of first year success in the program. What we also know about the GMAT is that it’s a really good predictor from people who have been out of school for the last five years. For people that have been out of school for eight, nine, ten, maybe 20 years, the GMAT is just not as good of a predictor of their success in the program. So, if a person meets all of our requirements on the GPA, they have really strong letters of recommendation, their resume shows that they’ve not only had an upward trajectory, but that they’ve also taken on greater and greater responsibility in terms of managing other people, managing programs or projects and managing larger and larger budgets, we will go ahead and take a look at their application and consider that GMAT waiver.
We’ll also look at that as they’ve already completed a masters level degree from another institution. Unfortunately not every institution would count in that, so it does have to be a rigorous institution and a rigorous degree. So, if that’s something that you would like to request, there is a statement that your enrollment advisor can help you compose. We ask you why you want the waiver. We ask what this would mean to you. And what things you have done to support your success that we wouldn’t gather from you taking a GMAT?
Now, if you have a 3.0 GPA and you go and take the GMAT and you get a 400 on it and then you ask for the GMAT waiver, that’s probably not going to be the best scenario for you. So, my recommendation would be that if you achieve that 3.0 GPA that you request the waiver first and then we would consider it and then let you know if you need to take the GMAT. So, it’s certainly worth an individualized conversation with your enrollment advisor and there are certainly lots of possibilities for being considered for that. So, it’s certainly worth your while.
So, in talking about the concentration as I mentioned before, these come through your elective series and beginning this spring of 2013, people will be able to start asking WSU to present them with a certificate at the time that they receive their diploma indicating they have a concentration in these areas. So, I think that’s an extra special item as well. That certificate will be listed on your transcript and so when you’re looking at another employer or you’re talking to your own employer about getting the MBA and saying look at what kind of leadership opportunities I’m ready to pursue, is that something I can do within this company, I now have my MBA. I also have a certificate in this specific area you can show that to them.
One of the reasons that we offer this is that some people have said we really like to sharpen our knowledge in one particular area. We don’t wanna take general electives through the MBA, so we’re now offering them in marketing, finance and international business. Each of these will have a class in international business as well as the other areas, there will be some crossovers. So, the marketing concentration will contain probably some consumer behavior, some advertising and market analysis and one of those will be around international marketing as well.
Finance, the same kind of thing. Some are on corporate finance, some are on investing and some are on international finance. And then the international business concentration has a marketing component, a finance component and would include the study abroad or another international business course.
As I mentioned just three courses and we will announce those ahead of time so that you know what those options are as you’re pursuing those electives and the electives just pop up at particular intervals in the program. And we can certainly coach you through and once you are admitted to the program student services would then work out a plan of study for you to show you how you would graduate in either of the 24 months or if you need all of the foundation courses as many as 29 months. But again, that is just five months extra to get through all of those and we would happy to evaluate your transcripts. As we you know, many people have already had some of those classes.
We do have the upcoming start dates as listed here. We do start six times a year, so if you’re thinking about your undergrad or maybe another master’s degree where there was only fall, spring or what they might have called winter entry and then summer entry, we do offer admission in August and October, January and March and then again in May and mid-June for the summer terms. So, right now is the perfect time to be applying for August classes to make sure that you have all of your materials here on time, that you can get some orientation to the course space and that you can make sure any financial aid that you would be seeking would be secure before that start time.
Again, after August, we’ll have seven weeks of courses and admit again in October and you’d hop right into courses from there. And then if you would need to wait until the beginning of the new year, we’ll start again on January 7. So, we prefer to have all of your materials in approximately one month at the latest prior to the start, so we can be sure you get through all of WSU’s processes and make sure to get you what you need to enroll in the program.
I will say when you are being admitted to WSU, dissimilar from undergraduate and perhaps from semester programs that might run independent of their graduate school, you are applying to the WSU graduate school and to the college of business at the same time. And so you may meet the graduate school’s minimum requirement of a 3.0, but we have all those other materials that we review as a college of business to determine what your plan would look like. And then when we would recommend you to the graduate school for admission, that’s when they would craft your official admission certificate. So, as you can imagine, even though it’s electronic, a little bit of that go between takes a few days.
And then once you are admitted, we do want to be sure to get you set up with all the WSU systems and everything that you would need so that you’re not scrambling to get through any of that on the first day of classes. We wanna be sure that the first day of classes your email is set up, your financial aid is set. You just need to start log into class and interacting with your faculty member, start watching those videos, start posting your comments, start the dialogue. And then I think something extra special about this group is that we have a student run Facebook group where all the students network through a Facebook page. And it’s a great space for students to interact with one another. I’ll tell you the course space and to know all the other MBA students, even if you’re not in the same class together. So, now is the time.
At this time, I’ll turn the mic back over to Monica. Monica are you ready to take some Q&A?
Moderator: Yes, Cheryl, thank you for that really great information. Again, please type your questions into the chat window on the right side of your screen. I do have a few questions already. And again, I wanted to mention if we are unable to respond to all the questions in today’s webinar or if there’s something that you think of after we’re done with the session here, please feel free to reach out to enrollment advisor. The contact information is at the bottom of the slide. But also, an enrollment advisor will be reaching out to you to follow up with any questions you may have. Our first question, Cheryl, is do students progress from course to course in a cohort format?
Cheryl Oliver: Somewhat. We offer the courses year round one class at a time. And so if you were to start in the fall, all of the students that you start with would be, essentially, your cohorts and those would be the same students that you should finish with. However, there will also be other students in your courses who have started at previous points across the – wherever they entered that program. So, for some, that class may be their last class or their second to last class or middle of the program class. So, you’ll get a picture fairly easily of who has started with you and who are some of the veteran students in the program and who can help guide you through. But we don’t cohort or we’d have many, many, many iterations of the various courses going on each time.
Moderator: Okay, thank you Cheryl. And another question regarding networking and as then the students you’re with in classes. In an online environment how well are you able to get to know your online classmates? Is it easy to continue to network with them? Do you have any feedback from students on that?
Cheryl Oliver: We have a lot of feedback from students on that. So, as I mentioned in the course space, you’ll see a lot of interacting through the message boards where the faculty member will post a question or an assignment and you’re required to put your feedback in that space and then to continue the dialogue with your peers. There’s a real opportunity for interaction there.
Secondarily, a lot of the courses will ask for you to work with a partner or a small team of up to about four people is our max. And that group, it’s really up to you how well you interface with them and I encourage you to do that like you would in a work environment. I wouldn’t recommend that you assign one person to one section and another person to another section, because eventually, you’ll be tested on that material and you need to become very familiar with it.
So frequently our students will meet either through Skype or another technology, sometimes they’ll have phone calls. Sometimes if they’re all in a specific geographic location, maybe once a week, they’ll all drive to one coffee shop or restaurant and meet for a period of time. It just depends on your level of desire in terms of interaction with your colleagues there or those group assignments.
And then in the Facebook space, there’s a lot of interaction with the other students. The current students are continuously welcoming the new students to the space. You don’t have to be Facebook friends with any of them to be on that page. All the students have administrative rights. All of the students can see the content that’s posted there. All of the students are in the same class at the same time with the exception of the capstone. So, all of the students are continuously talking through their struggles, asking each other for help, talking about what else they’re trying to balance with the coursework.
And then, of course, some people do choose to be friends with one another outside of that page. But it certainly doesn’t give anyone visibility into your individual Facebook page. It’s a really great opportunity to network, network freely outside of the class space. So, no. In fact, all of our students have said they really enjoy how they’re able to continue to network without leaving their jobs.
Moderator: another question is involved in enrollment. Someone’s interested in enrolling in January, when would they have to take their foundation classes?
Cheryl Oliver: They could actually start taking their foundation classes in January. If they wanted to take the core courses sooner, they coulsd continue start this fall or summer – well summer’s over, I apologize. This fall was the foundation courses. Then they just keep on track. So, if they start to follow the foundation courses, they would just go until the foundation courses were done. At the end of that foundation course, jump right into the next available core MBA course which would start right at the end of that foundation class.
Moderator: Okay and I have another question here regarding the foundation courses. Someone wanted to confirm that if they had taken one of the foundation courses as an undergraduate, would that credit be applied to –
Cheryl Oliver: Sure, it won’t be – I’m sorry Monica, I didn’t mean to cut you off. The course won’t be applied to the MBA. What we’ll say is that course has been waived from the MBA if they earned a B or better in it and it’s from a good school. And so at that point in time, we would just say you start with these other classes. So, we will look at each of those foundation courses on a case by case basis and determine a study plan.
Moderator: We have another question here regarding reference letters and the question is who would the reference letters have to come from as part of the GMAT waiver? The recommendation letters for the GMAT waiver, who would they have to come from?
Cheryl Oliver: In all application instances, we request that all of your letters of recommendation come from previous supervisors or from previous academic, either faculty or instructors. So, we certainly would not allow any letters from peers or prefer not to have any from your colleagues at the office. Sometimes, I’ll see a letter from three _______ where so and so and I work on the same team, they’re a great teammate and that’s just not an MBA level admissions letter. So, you’ll definitely need to get them from your boss and perhaps even their supervisor as well.
What we’re really looking for here is that you have a network of support from the top that’s going to (a) say that they believe in your ability to complete the program; and (2) that they understand that that’s what you’re working on and their going to be giving you an opportunity to do that. And we’re not asking for their financial support, we’re not asking for them to give you time off of work. We just want to be sure that those supervisors can speak to your workability, those previous supervisors can speak to your workability and that we can see that you have a network of mentors in place who can facilitate that time for you.
For those people that have maybe come right out of undergrad or only have a couple years of experience but they had a professor that they interfaced with frequently, that would certainly be an appropriate letter if they don’t have a lot of experience and at least three previous supervisors or a continuum of supervisors and a couple of locals there.
In regards to the GMAT waiver, you don’t need additional waivers for the GMAT waiver. We’re going to be looking at letters that talk about what a strong employee and what strong cognitive abilities you have and ability to interact with others and problem solving capability. We’re going to be looking for that in those letters and if that’s not present, and you’re asking for the GMAT waiver, then we’re going to start to say okay, look these letters aren’t very strong, and they’re asking for a GMAT waiver, and maybe the GPA isn’t that good either, so this is a person that would have to take the GMAT. So, that’s what we mean.
Moderator: Okay, the next couple of questions deal with coursework. One question is do you know the estimated time needed for each class of coursework in the deliverables? So, about the estimated time a student would spend in a week?
Cheryl Oliver: Right. So, the average person spends between 20-25 hours per week in class. And that, like I said, is an average. There are those people that during one particular course may have had some experience _________ but no academic work. And so they might fly through the class in 15 hours a week. There might also be an instance where that person has had no exposure to the material and they may need to have to push for 30 or so hours a week. So, give or take five hours on either end of that 20-25 hours depending on your experience level, how easily the material comes to you, what kind of learning style you have. As a safe estimate to guess 20-25, but I would have for anyone gets frustrated if they thought you know I’m spending a little bit more time right now in this class or I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like they’re breezing through if they have to spend a little less on a given course.
Moderator: Okay, and the next course question deals with the final exam. If any of the courses require a final exam, is a student responsible for finding an exam proctor?
Cheryl Oliver: In most instances the courses will actually have financial deliverables rather than exams. In the instances where we do require an exam, you would need to actually work with a company called Proctor U and Proctor U has a fee that goes with it, I think it’s about $22 for an exam. You do need to have a web camera. They do verify your identity through a series of questions only you would know the answers to after you’ve signed up with them. And then that proctor sits with you through the exam. And then they do block some things. The exams are set so that while you’re in the exam you can’t open other web pages and other programs unless the programs are a part of the examination. So you don’t – well in all instances now you don’t have to go offsite and find a proctor.
Moderator: Okay. The next question has to do with time off. If the student needs to take a couple months off of the school year, will this impact their ability to continue with the program? And most importantly would that impact their financial aid?
Cheryl Oliver: That’s a great question. It depends on when in the school year they choose to take time off. So, bearing in mind that yes you can take time off at any point in time, but we really do discourage that because we only offer each course as a core program every 24 months. And so whenever you step out, you’ll have to wait another two years after that step out date to actually catch up on that class. So, it could take you quite a while if you started doing that on a regular basis to end the program.
One of the things that I would recommend doing is probably just trying to clear your calendar just for the 24 months and push on through if you had to take one class out, that’s understandable or one semester. When WSU grants your financial aid, they grant it based on fall, spring and summer semesters. So, if you were in summer semester, example. And you took your first class, but you chose not to take your second class but your financial aid has been delivered, assuming you were taking both classes because you’d initially been registered. They could ask you to immediately pay back and the federal government’s being really hard about this right now, as you to pay back all of that aid for that second course which would include the tuition and cost of living for that segment base depending on your financial package.
If you chose to come for all of fall, all of spring and then take summer off, you’d have to know that for two years those classes wouldn’t be offered again ’til that next summer and so you’d be delaying your graduation for quite some time when you’re waiting for those two courses. But if you didn’t get summer aid delivered, it wouldn’t impact your aid. You would just come back and start again in the fall.
If you take time off for a fall semester or a spring semester at WSU, you do need to complete a graduate leave request. And then you do have to ask to be reinstated 2W2 and we still have forms, out of forms saying yes this person is coming back for fall and have you get back in. Then that doesn’t impact your aid either. You do only have six years to complete a master’s degree at WSU. So if you started today and then took a year or two break and then got back on the carousel, you’d be pushing at that five years and we wouldn’t really wanna see you do that with ________ because by that time often times as we try to remain relevant to the market, curriculums can change a little bit, course material could change a little bit and we’d hate for you to get off track. So, my recommendation is to just zip through it as quickly as you can. If you do need a term or two off, talk to your student services advisor and we’ll try to map out for you the fastest possible path graduation. But as I mentioned, each course is offered only once every two years and so everyone is kind of on a continuous timeline there.
Moderator: And sort of along the same lines, a question posted was are there any breaks throughout the year given the schedule of courses?
Cheryl Oliver: Sure. So, I think I might have mentioned before that we start each class on the first day of a WSU semester. So, for example, this fall semester the classes will start on August 20. And in that first term, there will be seven weeks of classes, and then there will be a break of one week. Then there will be the next seven weeks of classes. In that seven weeks of classes, there will be a one-week break for Thanksgiving, so it will actually be an eight week long course with one week time off in the middle of it. And then when the students end that semester, they’ll have all of Christmas break before they start back up again in January.
Then again in January, they’ll have seven weeks worth of courses, then they’ll have a break of a week, then they’ll have another week. And I can’t remember exactly how we laid out the break around spring break. I think we either ended that class a week earlier, we put two weeks between the two. So, each term is a little bit different in terms of the break, they’re not consistent breaks, like I mentioned, based on university holidays or other public holidays.
Moderator: Okay. And another question is how long can the students defer after acceptance before fully enrolling and beginning in classes?
Cheryl Oliver: If a student is accepted, we can defer their application two terms, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee admission. And I don’t want that to scare anyone away. But in the case of people who don’t fully have the minimums, there might be an exception. We don’t allow exceptions beyond 10% ’cause we started 10 students in a fall term and if one of them had maybe a 2.99 GPA from 1987, we’d still have to ask the graduate school for an exception. And if we had another exception come up the next term, then we wouldn’t prioritize exceptions. So, you could apply for the August start. You could actually roll it forward to January and then roll it forward to May before having to apply again. So you’d get two semester based roll forward opportunities and we’d consider you for each start in between there. So, all four of them before that fifth start in May.
Moderator: Okay, and we do have GPA question. If someone has more than 20 years of business experience, but is slightly below the 3.0 GPA that is required, will that be a hindrance to entrance into the program?
Cheryl Oliver: So, that’s a great question. As I mentioned, if a person has a lot of experience, we’d be happy to look at that resume and those letters of reference and that personal statement. We will have to require that GMAT and we’ll use that as a tool to show that the quantitative abilities and their capability toward their MBA. And we’ll use all that material to make the request for exception from the graduate school. So, it’s the WSU graduate school that has a hard and fast 3.0 GPA minimum requirement for admission. So, any time someone does not meet that 3.0, it could have been a GPA from 60 years ago, they still require that we ask them for an exception and show all of our supporting documents indicating that the student would be successful.
Moderator: Thank you. Our next question is if someone is currently unemployed, would that be a problem in enrolling into the program?
Cheryl Oliver: No, not at all, not in the online MBA. That’s frequently the case with people that get their MBA is they’re retooling for a new opportunity or they’re trying to change jobs or they’re transitioning from something else. So, unemployment is not a problem at all.
Moderator: And because this is an online program, someone just wanted to confirm that they would be able to benefit for on campus services like a career services center and other benefits that are available to on campus students.
Cheryl Oliver: The MBA and the on campus students are completely separate models. And so a person who might be in Pullman but in the online program won’t benefit from all the same things in the face to face environment. And all that benefit from those through the online environment. So, the WSU services do not apply across all areas to all students if a person with your implement. They would interface with all of the online resources, not the Pullman resources.
Moderator: All right great. And another great opportunity, someone wanted to hear your opinion on how the online education compares to onsite learning and if they would receive the same type of education?
Cheryl Oliver: Right, so hopefully I addressed that early on. The course title and the course material and the instructors are all the same people. And the caliber of students are also identical. We don’t have a lesser qualified body of students in the online ________ any of our face to face programs. Our admissions requirements are exactly the same. So, really what we’re doing was offering this program online is reaching a larger population that we can reach from Pullman, and delivering it in a way that allows people not to have to stop doing their job or to move to get the degree. So, it’s the same quality that we offer face to face.
And, in many instances, I would say it’s a better opportunity for people who are already working because it means they can continue that work ________ trajectory and engage in this course space and expand their network with other working professionals, not come back to a campus where people are typically not working and just going to school full-time. So, yes the quality is absolutely there.
Moderator: Great. And our final question is regarding the GMAT. In order to waive the GMAT, can the recommendation letter be general or does it specifically have to include reasons why the GMAT should be waived?
Cheryl Oliver: No, the letters should not address why the GMAT should be waived. But letters should address the person’s capability to do well in the program. So, what we’re really looking for is that admissions letter request is a reference much like someone would get for a job reference, but indicating why the student would be a successful student in the MBA program based on their work performance, other cognitive abilities, their problem solving abilities, their technical abilities. Whatever it is that makes that student an exceptional candidate for our program, that’s what the letter author should address.
Moderator: Great, thank you and I did have one more question that just came up. After completing the degree, do online students have the option to walk at the Pullman ceremony?
Cheryl Oliver: Absolutely. And I didn’t mention this earlier in the presentation. There are no requirements for residency. There are other online programs from AACSB accredited institutions that do ask that you be on campus for an orientation, a midpoint opportunity and then an endpoint. We don’t require that of any other students, but we do highly encourage our students to participate in the business plan competition each year in April where they can come and present their business plan even if they already have finished the program. If their capstone fell outside of that time frame, they could certainly come back and do that.
The other thing that we highly encourage is that you come and walk in the May ceremony each year and the reason that we request that you walk in the May ceremony even if you graduated in December or August, around that time is that if you graduate in August, you would be walking in the May ceremony anyway. That may be for your August. If you’re graduating in December, you have to wait until the May after. But getting to Pullman in the December month can be really tricky and it’s around the holidays, so there’s a large exodus here in town and it’s very hard to get accommodations. And we have a lot of capacity here to put together other celebratory activities for the MBAs in May and have the opportunity to interface and interact with you. So, May is when we invite everyone to come to campus and walk and to meet their peers and to celebrate with us here in the college.
Moderator: Great, thank you so much Cheryl for all this wonderful information and MBA updates and thank you everyone for joining us today. Again, if we didn’t get to any of your questions or if you have any follow up questions, please do contact one of our enrollment advisors. The number is located at the bottom, but it’s 877-960-2029 Ext. 3608. And again the email and the website address are listed. Please look out for a copy of the recording and the slides in your inbox early next week and I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Thank you again, Cheryl.
Cheryl Oliver: Thank you so much Monica. And again, thank you everyone for attending. We’ll look forward to seeing your application materials come through. I have a list here of the attendees and I’m really looking forward to seeing your materials. So, have a wonderful weekend. Bye-bye.
Moderator: Thanks. Bye-bye.
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