Graduate degrees are becoming increasingly important for many career positions. According to the Interim Dean of the Fermanian School of Business, Dr. Ken Armstrong, "MBA Degrees are now being sought and attained by younger and younger people in the workplace." Point Loma Nazarene University is a highly renowned undergraduate educational institution; however, many people still do no know about the graduate programs offered at the University, specifically in the realm of business. The FSB offers evening MBA courses targeted at professionals in full-time careers seeking to further their education. Recently, a new format was made to the FSB graduate system: the 5th year MBA program.
Traditional graduate courses function to sharpen existing skills of individuals already well immersed in their careers. Claire Buckley, Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions, explains that the 5th year program "is designed for students coming straight out of undergrad who want to earn their MBA in just one year so they're equipped with the business knowledge and practical skills they need to start their careers." Essentially, the program is a three-semester (fall, spring, and summer), 42-unit, daytime program to be completed within twelve months. Courses are offered Monday through Thursday at 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Apart from the Monday through Thursday courses, there is also a capstone Leading with Integrity course to be taught three Saturdays per semester. The 5th year MBA program facilitates an environment where students can further develop their ability to think strategically and improve skills highly sought in the business world.
The Fermanian School of Business already had an evening graduate program, so why did they decide to add a 5th year? Dr. Ken Armstrong says that 5th year programs are the "fastest growing segment of the MBA market" and that from a marketing standpoint, "the need is there." Claire Buckley personally advocates for this specific program because "students can set themselves apart to employers who will see they are motivated, educated and disciplined." Buckley and Armstrong both agree that the program is highly beneficial for non-business undergrad students who are seeking to round out their undergrad education. So the benefits reaped are not exclusively for business students. Jamie Ressler, Associate Dean of Graduate Education, adds that "the benefits of the 5th year MBA mirror many of the benefits of the undergraduate program at PLNU" by offering "small class sizes with professors who have incredible real world experience. And professors truly care and invest in each student." Furthermore, Ressler, Buckley, and Armstrong stressed the benefit of receiving an MBA degree in as little as one year as opposed to other programs that take 2-3 years. Something highlighted by not only these three major contributors to the program but also by a current student in the program, is the networking opportunities and the professional team of professors.
Andrew Schalin received his B.S. in Engineering Physics with a focus in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Computer Science. He is in pursuit of his MBA in hopes of settling in a career in engineering and eventually in engineering management. The very two things he really enjoys about the MBA program are that "the professors are very genuine," and the networking opportunities. He emphasizes "the connections that have been made both in the classroom and at the FBEI events have been great."
Though the program is fairly new, the feedback has been positive and the direction it is going looks encouraging. "The 5th year MBA is in its first year and we have already made a few changes," says Jamie Ressler. Among the alterations Ressler says, "we are working on planning several [company visits] for students to get a behind the scenes look at local businesses and have the opportunity to meet some of the executives. We are also establishing a mentoring program to match the students with mentors in their selected area of study."
Yes, the MBA program is new. However, the faculty is supportive, and the education is valuable. As Jamie Ressler put it, "the 5th Year and the Evening MBA programs both are a great value with competitive pricing." The 5th Year MBA is a great program to take advantage of - whether you are a PLNU grad or from a university across the nation, or a business student or a student in a seemingly unrelated field!
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Written by: Alicia Wagoner (Contributors: Jamie Ressler, Ken Armstrong, Claire Buckley, Andrew Schalin)