New students of the Online MBA program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business were on-site in College Park, Md., last week (Jan. 8-11, 2014) for their residency program.
This is the first cohort of the new Smith Online MBA program, which offers the same academic rigor and top faculty as the Smith campus-based programs with the added flexibility and convenience of online learning. This advanced business degree was created to develop highly skilled leaders and entrepreneurs who embody the business intelligence and practical management skills needed to thrive in our ever changing global economy.
“The initial response to our new Smith Online MBA program has been tremendous,” said Gary Cohen, interim assistant dean of executive programs. “I’m already impressed with the inspired ideas our students are bringing to our discussions. Our online program will open the ‘MBA’ door to many highly qualified candidates who may not have been able to be part of our traditional on-the-ground MBA programs, given their professional and/or personal circumstances.”
“I needed a flexible, online option because of my demanding work schedule but was concerned about the competitiveness and perceptions many still have about online programs,” said Jon Gayman, a captain in the United States Marine Corps. “As a top-ranked program, I know that the Smith School will ensure their online program is healthy, fully supported, professionally staffed, and is held to the same standards as their other MBA programs in order to preserve the superb reputation they have worked so hard to establish.”
Like Gayman, Lauren McConnell was also looking for a flexible – but reputable – online MBA program: “I chose Smith because when I researched other online MBA programs, it had the most positive attributes: the flexibility to stay home with my infant son while receiving a top-notch education, outstanding career service offerings for after graduation, a team of professors that are the tops in their field, and lastly, the incredible reputation of the University of Maryland and the Robert H. Smith School of Business.”
The program begins and ends with in-person residencies in College Park and students complete the remainder of the 21-month program online, on their own time. Students can select an MBA specialization — accounting, finance, information systems and analytics, or marketing — or choose the general track. They will log online at specific times twice per week to attend virtual online classes with their professors and fellow students.
The Smith Online MBA program will take in four cohorts each year. This first cohort consists of 19 students – 11 male and 8 female – from all across the country. The average age is 31 with an average of nine years work experience in industries ranging from defense and military to advertising and health care.
During the two-credit opening residency program students attended skill workshops (career, communication, presentation), started foundation courses (business strategy and data analysis), participated in team-building exercises, and immediately put their new skills into practice for an action learning project (ALP) that put students into teams and challenged them to design a new-concept watch by leveraging cutting-edge technologies.
“There is an undeniable sense of a community among the faculty and staff that is very welcoming and encouraging,” said Gayman. “At residency, this sense of community spread to the cohort. Not only did we bond quickly, but our cohort already started to gain a sense of its own identity. Residency left me with the impression that I am fortunate to be part of a cohort of extremely talented and dynamic people and that we have the enthusiastic support of an amazing community of world-class professors and mentors.”
There was a general feeling of excitement and camaraderie during the opening residency from all of the students and faculty members.
“Opening residency completely exceeded my expectations. I came out of the weekend feeling like I was part of a team and a family, not just an anonymous online student,” said Lauren McConnell. “I was impressed with how many faculty members I had the chance to speak with and get to know.”
For more information about the Smith Online MBA program visit, https://onlinebusiness.umd.edu/mba/.