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Whitman School’s iMBA Program grows by 27 percent in 2003-04
Whitman School’s iMBA Program grows by 27 percent in 2003-04March 29, 2004Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
The iMBA, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management’s distance MBA program for midcareer and executive students, has grown by 27 percent in 2003-04, according to recently released figures. Students come from 29 states and 10 countries to take advantage of the program’s mostly online format.
The University uses a credit-hour production calculation to measure growth in academic programs. This year’s target for iMBA was 1,395 credit hours, based on enrollment in 2002-03. The final number for 2003-04, recently communicated by the SU Budget office, is 1,773 credit hours. As of January 2004 there are 166 active students in the iMBA program. Notable growth came from students in the New York City area, women, students from underrepresented minority groups and SU alumni.
“iMBA is really gathering momentum now,” says Paula O’Callaghan, the program’s director. “I credit a lot of this growth to timing. The distance learning market is maturing, leading more of the best MBA students to choose this type of program. The Whitman School has been in the business of distance education for a long time, but now more demand exists for our high-quality product. I’ve experienced prospective iMBA students choosing between us and Duke University. I feel very good about Whitman being in that league.”
But it’s not just good timing that fuels the success of the iMBA program, says O’Callaghan. “A very critical piece of this story is the faculty. Our main task is to keep these far-flung students connected and involved with learning 365 or 366 days per year. The dedicated iMBA faculty are an indispensable part of this winning formula.”
The iMBA program also provides many extras to encourage student connectedness. Students in the program are required to spend three weeks per year at SU; outside of class time the program provides corporate speakers, company visits, roundtable discussions, career advising sessions and international trips. For example, in February a group of iMBA students participated in the Whitman School’s networking event at Lubin House in New York City. A week later, 25 iMBA students traveled to SU’s London Center to take an elective course dealing with managing project teams.
Students like the flexibility of the program. Patricia Beamish, of the American Red Cross in Syracuse, says, “I am a divorced mother with a job that involves up to 50 percent travel, I am a Girl Scout leader and active at my daughter’s school, I attend the gym regularly and have an active family and social life – This program allows me to keep the other parts of my life going, study while traveling or in the evenings and still make a connection with the school and other students.”
The average iMBA student is 35 years old, has 11 years of work experience and earns $82,000 per year. Nearly 20 percent already possess a master’s or higher degree. O’Callaghan says they tend to be picky consumers of MBA programs. “The main criteria that I used in selecting the iMBA were the diversity of the student body, the continued accreditation of the program and the sponsoring corporations and institutions that send their employees to attend the program,” says Dale Callaway of Bristol Myers-Squibb in Syracuse. “The iMBA has a long history of independent thinking and innovation, combined with an exceptional faculty base, all of which have led to the development of a program that is impressive.”