Online MBA adapts to the market, loses internationals

By Madison McCollum, Opinion Editor

Newman University’s Master of Business Administration program has moved online in an attempt to meet the demands of a changing market.

At the start of the 2018-2019 academic year, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program switched online with one onsite class offered per semester. Beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year, all classes will be online.

Brett K. Andrews, dean for the School of Business, said the change is meant to help meet the demands of Newman’s customers.

“The average person who walks in off the street and wants to get an MBA is concerned about speed to completion. They’re concerned about cost, but most importantly, they’ve already got busy lives and busy careers, and they want ultimate convenience that is provided by online,” Andrews said.

Andrews said there has been a national decline in the interest for traditional, two year, on-site MBA programs. A majority of Newman’s MBA enrollment was online, he said, and the interest in recent years has been about 65 to 35 for online versus on-site classes.

“Here in Wichita, the people who had been desiring our on campus MBA was the number that was just continuing to fall,” Andrews said. “And it got to the point where I just can’t support it. It’s negative. Every class that I was offering on ground lost the university money based upon what it cost me to deliver the program versus the tuition we took in. That’s a problem.”

The switch to a completely online MBA program, however, has led to disappointment among some of Newman’s international population.

Senior Imkeleen Meyer had to change her plans for post graduation, after being previously offered a position as a graduate assistant for Newman’s golf team.

“As an international student, we have to do 50 percent of our classes on ground,” Meyer said. “That is what is required for our F1 visa that we are on. So that being said, when I heard it went online, all chances of me being able to do my MBA at Newman flew out the window.”

Current international graduate assistants pursuing their MBA were grandfathered in to complete their degree, Meyer said, but the 2019-2020 academic year is the first where the option for on-site courses will no longer be available for new international students.

Meyer said she wanted to “give back to the sport and to Newman” for the opportunities they have given her.

“I think that Newman is losing a lot of good international students that could have helped them on an athletic front as well as be good student ambassadors and later on alumni for the MBA program. Newman always talks about that diversity and it is one of their selling points when they recruit students, but here they are just throwing that diversity away.”

Meyer said she is sad that she has to leave Newman but has accepted a graduate assistant position for golf at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina.

Andrews said the option for an on-site program isn’t completely out of the question but that there needs to be enough demand.

“What I did do, in advance, is send a note to the admissions office in which I clearly laid out that I am happy to have the MBA program on grounds at any time- in other words, you can reopen it- if there’s enough paying business to have it.”

Andrews said the program had only one individual express interest in the fall semester, and has had zero inquiries this semester.

Andrews said the market for master’s degrees is moving towards university-business partnerships. Newman’s MBA program has a partnership with Spirit, but Andrews is talking to other companies in Wichita.

“Companies are always on the lookout to keep good employees, and investing in them through a degree program is one way a lot of companies choose to do that...We’re simply responding to the market and making the change,” Andrews said.