Word spread quickly about the Smith School’s online MBA program, launched in January 2014. After attracting 70 students during the inaugural year, enrollment more than doubled to 158 in 2015.
Danielle Wang, who manages the online MBA within the school’s Office of Executive Programs, says the goal will be to maintain enrollment near current levels while focusing on quality.
Already the program has attracted a diverse mix of working professionals with an average annual salary of nearly $85,000. Participants have included an Intel senior financial analyst, a U.S. Navy division head, a Dell senior delivery consultant and president of a growing startup. “What I hear frequently from students is they like the flexibility,” Wang says.
The format works particularly well for military personnel and others who aren’t sure where they’ll be in six months or a year. So far, about 25 percent of online MBA students at Smith have military backgrounds.
Wang says the format also gives flexibility to faculty, who have taught classes from Belgium, Iceland and India. “The professors enjoy this way of teaching,” she says. “Nearly all of them come back to teach again.”
Students also appreciate the sense of community that develops. “We have learned from each other and leaned on each other,” student speaker Deena Miers, OMBA ’15, told her classmates during the program’s first commencement in September 2015. “We will continue to do so throughout our lives.” /DJ/
How It Works
- Program starts and ends with residencies in College Park, Md.
- Incoming students can start in January, March, June or September
- Four tracks available: Finance, accounting, marketing, and information systems and business analytics
- Two-thirds of content delivered asynchronously
- Students see streaming video of each other and their professor during live sessions
- Classes capped at 22 students
- Students can complete coursework in as few as 21 months