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Elizabeth Whitehead started her MBA at Saint Rose in 2009 but was able to complete only two courses before she decided to move to Arizona to become a regional director for the National Credit Union Administration. A decade later, she’s back to finish her degree.

“I loved my experience at Saint Rose, so I decided to look into attending classes remotely this year (2020) and completing the program,” says Whitehead. “Finishing my graduate degree will give me more credibility as now I have my own consulting company.”

Whitehead hasn’t moved back east, though. She’s one of the many students who are able to earn a Saint Rose MBA degree without relocating or disrupting their schedules, thanks to the Flex MBA.

Many colleges and universities in recent years have been reporting a decline in MBA-seekers, with some even shutting down their programs. But MBA enrollment has increased steadily at Saint Rose, rising more than 140% from 2018 to 2020.

“Our program is growing because we are addressing a real need facing people who want to further their education and advance their careers,” says director Dr. John Dion. “Students are attracted to the Flex MBA because it offers the flexibility that working professionals need.”

Even before COVID-19 forced many instructors to adapt their curricula to remote learning, the Saint Rose Flex MBA was already providing students three modes of class delivery: in person, livestreaming, or asynchronous video recording. When the pandemic hit, the Flex MBA instructors hardly had to change a thing.

Classes are delivered in person, but students who can’t attend because they’re on a business trip or have to stay home with a sick child can tune in via Zoom. Professors teach from special Flex classrooms, which provide a better online experience with a camera that tracks the speaker and other special technology. If they can’t make the class time, they can watch the lecture recording when it’s convenient for them.

“People who didn’t think their schedules would allow them to get their MBA now see that it’s possible,” says Dion.

The Flex Program is what attracted me to pursuing a graduate degree at Saint Rose,” says Brian Hupe G’21. “Having a toddler and newborn at home, the Flex Program allows for me to synchronously or asynchronously attend class when home and work get crazy and attending class in person is not feasible.”

Academic theory made real

Businesses are facing new challenges on a near-daily basis, as the COVID-19 pandemic and a fluctuating economy are changing the business world at an unprecedented pace. The Saint Rose MBA prepares students to address unpredictable markets by focusing on five learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrating the advanced knowledge required for a management position
  • Solving problems innovatively and creatively
  • Making data-based business decisions
  • Identify global issues and their business implications
  • Communicating effectively, both orally and in writing

“Our MBA is an applied program, in which we not only teach students the theory but ensure that they learn how to apply it to real-world situations,” says Dr. Raj Aroskar, dean of the Huether School of Business.

“Our professors have years of professional experience in practical applications of theories, and some classes feature case studies and real-life examples. As a result, students are job-ready and well equipped to advance their careers.”

For instance, students taking Marketing Research work with a real client.

“The client tells them about a problem they are having, and the students use the research methods taught in class to secure the information their client needs to make a good business decision,” says Dion.

Teddy Rwotber G’23, who currently works as a banker in Uganda, had always promised herself that she would earn her master’s degree in spite of the obstacles that life put in her path.

“I had always dreamed of becoming a CEO or director in one of the big organizations in my country, or launching my own business, and I am still working towards my goal,” she says. “At Saint Rose, I found an MBA program that helps me learn and understand best practices to solve managerial issues, develop theory and practice to perform strategic analysis, and improve my communication skills.”

Rwotber says the program has also broadened her horizons and introduced her to new international career opportunities.

“I have realized it’s time I should change from banking to leadership,” she says.

Dion and his colleagues continue to adapt the program to meet the needs of business professionals. Ethan Lalli G’21 liked the streamlined BS/MBA that allowed him to earn two degrees in a compressed time frame.

“I was attracted to the BS/MBA program at The College of Saint Rose because of the opportunity it provided me to earn both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees,” says Lalli, a military veteran. “The MBA program has allowed me to further develop myself and gain new knowledge and skills that I will use throughout my life and career.”

“We are currently in the process of developing other innovative additions to our MBA to ensure that we are always providing the most current programs,” adds Dion.

In addition, the growing diversity of Saint Rose’s MBA cohort – in terms of students’ experiences, ages, nationalities, veteran status, and other demographics – is a boon in the business landscape, as organizations seek employees who are comfortable in an increasingly diverse workforce and marketplace.

“Companies are looking for people who can communicate well and are sensitive to the needs of people from different cultures and backgrounds,” says Professor Khalid Mehtabdin.

Flexibility, by any other name

Beyond academic excellence, the Saint Rose Flex MBA program is known for its superlative student experience.

“I selected Saint Rose because I remembered the high-quality education and excellent teachers I had when I last attended,” adds Whitehead.

“Students come to our program because of the flexibility, but it is the quality of the learning experience that they appreciate most,” says Dion, adding that class sizes are small, with a low student-to-faculty ratio, so that students can easily build relationships with their instructors and classmates. “Our faculty make themselves available to students outside of class time to answer questions, review material, or give career advice.”

“The faculty are enthusiastic about the program and really care about their students,” adds Aroskar. “They build on relationships with students that are truly one to one.”

By Irene Kim