Ahmed Omar earned his MBA in 2005. At the time, an MBA signified a well-rounded post-graduate education in business. But times have changed, and Omar, associate dean for the College of Business and Information Technology, feels that today’s business graduates need something more.
To keep pace with evolving industry needs, the University of Phoenix College of Business and Information Technology has been working for the past few months to update its MBA degree program. Enrollments for the updated program are scheduled for January 2020. The intention is to offer a modernized business program designed to better prepare graduates for the business world of today.
Omar said that the changes are designed to help create a meaningful, more relevant, business program for students in today’s business climate.
“What worked before doesn’t work forever,” Omar said. “[Businesses] want someone who can help their organization make a change or create value through that change.”
To help ensure that the program meets this demand, the modernization comes in collaboration with employers and experts in the field. University administrators counseled with business leaders, seeking to adapt the curriculum to shifts in modern business operations. This included new approaches to topics such as supply chain management, international partnerships, automation, round-the-clock operations, customer relations and social media marketing.
Dr. Kevin Wilhelmsen, dean of the College, said this new approach has evolved alongside the MBA. Where some of these topics may not have been in the past, the University is focused on provided an applied degree that remains relevant with the ever-changing business world.
Think social media marketing. Think international partnerships. Think round-the-clock operations.
“The MBA continues to evolve from a purely quantitative business focus to an integrated business experience,” Wilhelmsen said. “This program incorporates digital skills and unique business challenges in a leadership context to prepare graduates for the constantly changing ecosystem of business.”
“I want to be able to say that when our students graduate, they are ready for whatever the business world throws at them.”
— Joseph Aranyosi, associate dean, College of Business and Information Technology.
Joseph Aranyosi, an associate dean in the College of Business and Information Technology, said that students can expect changes in content, as well as in the way content is delivered.
He couched the updates as “contemporizing” the offerings, which includes embedding employable/behavioral skill assessments and incorporating ongoing professional development opportunities through access to career coaches, networking and webinars.
“It’s about what we’re doing to help our students remain relevant in the marketplace. I want to be able to say that when our students graduate, they are ready for whatever the business world throws at them,” Aranyosi said. “We’re trying to insert a lot of these new things into the curriculum. Things that will help add value for our graduates.”
Outside the curriculum, the University intends to update the technology used to deliver coursework. With the new Blackboard Ultra platform — which serves as an online learning portal — students will have a more interactive, engaging experience.
The new platform gives student immediate feedback on how well they’re grasping the material, providing increased customization to the student’s learning experience. The goal of the new platform is to help students see what they know and don’t know so they can focus on closing the learning gaps and work on classwork in shorter bursts.
The University found that students performed about 10 percent better with the technology and retained about 10 percent more of the material, according to Aranyosi. Ultimately, the University is interested in creating an MBA program that produces the best possible graduates with the most marketable skills.
“We’re looking at what a business needs to thrive in the next 10-20 years,” Aranyosi said. “So, they can be on the cutting edge.”