The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona will begin offering an online master’s degree in business administration this fall.
The program joins other options for those seeking an MBA, including an executive program on weekends in Scottsdale, an evening program for working professionals, and a daytime program.
Online studies will match the college’s other offerings, said Jeff Schatzberg, the college’s vice dean.
“This is going to be a very high quality program,” he said. “Online does not imply easy. It’s just a different mode to be able to learn the same content with the same rigor and the same expertise that we offer in our faculty,” he said.
There are differences in online versus face-to-face education, he said. One of those is the way teachers must teach, Schatzberg said.
From his experience, he said teaching online can require faculty to make adjustments.
“At first you do have to kind of learn all the bells and whistles and how to deliver in the most optimal way. But afterwards it becomes quite natural and it’s very satisfying,” he said.
But it’s also different for students.
MBA student Wendi Baker said she’s taken online courses in the past at the UA
“A huge difference for me is that when you’re online it’s very task-driven. You just want to get your work done, you just want to learn the information, test on it and be done with the course,” she said.
She prefers in-person learning.
“When you’re here in the classroom, there’s that human interaction piece, you’re developing a network with all of these people. You’re sharing experiences,” she said. “You’re even learning more about yourself as a student. And that’s just not something you get online.”
If she were not living in Tucson, and thus able to take Eller courses in person, she said she might consider taking her MBA online through Eller because of its reputation.
The college has been highly ranked for its MBA program, in the top 50 in the country, Schatzberg said.
Online learning isn’t for everyone, but neither is a classroom, he said.
“Some folks do better maybe in an online environment where they can work at their own pace and control their time better and they like that learning environment," he said. "I daresay folks of a younger generation maybe more tapped into that, too,” Schatzberg said.
Eller hopes revenue from the online program can help all the other programs expand and improve, Schatzberg said.
“I could very well see that we might expand our offerings to perhaps other master’s programs,” he said.