Come fall, Oregon’s biggest state universities will be competing for Central Oregon students for their Master’s programs. As Concordia University graduates their last Master’s class in Bend, University of Oregon and Oregon State University-Cascades both plan to bring MBA programs to Central Oregon by fall 2014 – but will both be able to sustain themselves?
OSU administration has been discussing the MBA program for the past four years and in 2013 started making plans.
The OSU-Corvallis MBA was recently launched in Portland, formatted as a hybrid delivery with a few face-to-face classes during the term. The success of this program enabled OSU-Cascades to bring an MBA to Bend now, according to Marla Hacker, OSU-Cascades dean of Academic Success.
“Because of the success in Portland, OSU-Corvallis is able to bring the hybrid MBA to Central Oregon,” Hacker said. “The format will be the same, with some classes face-to-face and the balance online.”
In addition, with the upcoming OSU-Cascades expansion into a four-year university, OSU-Cascades will be hiring more faculty. This will help accommodate the MBA program, according to Hacker.
“With additional faculty, we will be able to also offer a face-to-face version of the OSU MBA program,” Hacker said.
University of Oregon
A noted interest in the program is what drove University of Oregon administration to bring an MBA from their college to Bend, according to Dale Morse, executive director of the executive U of O MBA program.
“As we received more interest from Bend residents last year, we decided to look into our schedule and teleconferencing technology to make it work,” Morse said. “Once those issues were resolved, we decided to try to start this fall.”
For the University of Oregon program to be considered successful, three students would be needed, according to Morse.
“Our program is taught using student groups,” Morse said. “Peer learning is very important.”
This already appears to be a possibility, according to Morse, for the first information session regarding the program, nine individuals registered to learn about the program.
Same degree, different approach
Both degrees are designed for different types of students.
The University of Oregon program is for students that have a minimum of five years experience in business and a minimum of three years of management experience.
“Students in our program are trying to make the last step to top leadership roles within their organization,” Morse said.
The average age of students in University of Oregon’s executive MBA program is 38, while the OSU program is designed for “younger students with less experience,” Morse explained.
“All of our students are working full time and our program is designed to create learning experiences that can be immediately applied to their business,” Morse said.
Previous business experience is the “best measure of success” in the U of O MBA program, according to Morse.
“If students have had management experience in business, nonprofits or the military prior to coming back to school, they may want to continue their education in our graduate program,” Morse said.
The OSU MBA will attract students that are underemployed seeking an MBA in one year, working professionals seeking a career change, and managers seeking professional development and career advancement, as well as international students attracted to OSU-Cascades, according to Hacker.
“Our university recruiters tell us that the MBA will be very successful in attracting international students, which will create a really cool, diverse classroom environment for both domestic students and the international students,” Hacker said.
Cost is another key difference between the programs. OSU’s tuition is “much more competitive,” according to Hacker. OSU tuition is currently $6,800 a term for tuition and fees for a resident taking 15 credits, which is about $21,000 total. U of O tuition is advertised at $71,000 all inclusive less a $15,000 scholarship.
Even with U of O tuition at a higher cost, it is relatively inexpensive to their competitors, according to Morse.
“The University of Washington, our main competitor in the Northwest, charges $20,000 more,” Morse explained.
One of the other differences is the mode of delivery, according to Hacker. Students in the OSU program will have the option of two modes of delivery; face-to-face or hybrid.
“For some courses, students may prefer a face-to-face classes or because of work schedule they may need a term here they chose the hybrid class,” Hacker said. “There is flexibility in mode of delivery.”
The University of Oregon is broadcast from Eugene to Bend and organized to be completed in 20 months, while the OSU program can be completed in nine months if students take 15 credits per term.
Though there are differences, both programs have quality faculty instructing the programs, according to Hacker.
“What is the same between the UO and OSU MBAs is that both universities have top-notch faculty and the type of courses are similar,” Hacker said.