Allison Jarboe, Features Editor
As anyone will say, time is money and college is not cheap. Career experience is in high demand, and bachelor’s degrees are no longer the golden tickets they once were.
OBU has developed the Integrated Bachelor’s Degree/MBA Degree Program that serves as a fast track for its students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration, ready to join the professional work force in only five years. Students can earn their undergraduate degree in something entirely non-business and still be able to achieve their MBA one year later.
OBU has MBA programs in energy management, project management, leadership and international business.
Dr. Rich Rudebock, Robert L. & Sara Lou Cargill Chair and Professor of Business, discussed the benefits of the program.
“Studies have shown that people who have a couple years of work experience do very well in MBA programs,” Rudebock said. “However, they’ve also shown that people right out of an MBA degree do much better because they have current study skills and current technology skills. A typical MBA has older, more experienced workers along with young people right out of school, so they blend to make a very nice combination.”
Rudebock stated that in his MBA classes he has students who already have masters in engineering and public health and some students who are already in management positions. He explained that this brings real-world experience to the classroom discussion.
“A huge difference between the undergraduate and graduate programs is the application of material versus the learning of the material,” Rudebock said.
At the undergraduate level, professors are primarily teaching material to students who have not had a good chance to apply the material yet.
“However, in the MBA program, we’re not so concerned with the material as we are concerned with applying it,” Rudebock said.
Dr. Richard Martinez is a professor of management and heads the MBA program at OBU.
“Any student can come into the MBA program, who meets the necessary qualifications for admission,” Martinez said.
Rudebock said that the MBA degree is tailored toward non-business undergraduates who are going into business.
“The MBA program was originally developed for people who had technical degrees—the engineers, the chemists—who found themselves in management, with no business training,” Rudebock said.
OBU undergraduates who are business majors move right into management positions or the professional workplace and do very well, according to Rudebock.
However, a student with a non-business background would be greatly aided with training and information to help them succeed in the business world.
“They’re already so smart in their field, but they come into the MBA program to learn the business side,” Rudebock said.
“The OBU integrated MBA program is good for all students of course, but it is particularly good for non-business majors. It is a way for them to complement their core interests with a managerial overlay that should make them attractive to employers,” he said.
Both Rudebock and Martinez explained that non-business majors would need to take a few basic business courses as electives during their undergrad years, to have a certain level of knowledge as a foundation for success in their MBA degree.
“Students who come into the MBA program without a business degree, have to meet certain prerequisite requirements,” Martinez said.
These prerequisite courses are Introduction to Business Finance, Basic Statistics, Principles of Accounting I, and Micro or Macro Economics.
Martinez also stated that the integrated program also allows students to start taking some MBA classes before they graduate from the undergraduate program.
“Our business students, let’s say, can take up to nine hours of MBA courses while they’re still doing their undergrad program,” Martinez said. “And they wouldn’t have to pay for those courses as long as it fit within their standard class load.”
He explained that these courses to fall into elective hours, and students would be knocking out MBA courses as a part of their existing tuition.
Martinez also said that the department is looking at possible improvements to the details of the program in the future. He mentioned that it might be possible to count some early MBA courses for current undergraduate non-elective credit as well.
“But that’s a change that hasn’t happened yet,” Martinez said. “It’s just a conversation about trying to see whether that’s a possibility.”
Either way, undergraduate students can get a good jump start and essentially complete a semester of MBA work, “and for no extra cost except the current undergrad rate they’re already paying,” Martinez said.
“So instead of taking two or three years to get their masters, the reality is that, the MBA program is designed for people who are working full-time already,” Rudebock said. “Someone could start working full time right after they finish their bachelors, then work on their MBA degree at the same time and not lose any money that way. It’s incredibly time-efficient.”