Online MBA Information Session – Webinar

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Find out if the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business Online MBA Program is for you.
This session will cover:

  • What makes UMD and the Smith School unique
  • An in-depth overview of the Smith Online MBA
  • Benefits of learning online with Smith
  • Admission requirements, financial aid and helpful tips

Presenters:

  • Paulo Prochno, Clinical Professor; Assistant Dean, PT MBA and Online Programs
  • Kathleen Finnegan, Online MBA Graduate
  • Robin Nathan, Senior Enrollment Advisor

Originally presented on September 11, 2019.

Transcript

Christina Walsh:                Hello, and welcome to the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business Online MBA information session. I’m Christina Walsh, and I’ll be your host today. I’d like to thank you for joining us and taking time out of your busy schedule.

Christina Walsh:                Before we begin, I’d like to review a few housekeeping items. At the bottom of your audience console are multiple application widgets you can use. If you have any technical difficulties, the Help widget provides answers to common technical issues. If you have questions during the webcast, you may submit your questions using the Q&A widget. We will answer as many questions as time allows at the end of the session.

Christina Walsh:                An on-demand version of this session will be available tomorrow. A link to the recording will be sent via email should you like to view the presentation again or share with others.

Christina Walsh:                And now I’d like to introduce our panelists. Paulo Prochno is a Clinical Professor of Strategy at the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, and Assistant Dean for the Part-Time MBA and Online programs. Dr. Prochno earned his PhD in Management at INSEAD, his MBA from Vanderbilt University, and his bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from the University of Sao Paulo.

Christina Walsh:                He has successfully taught strategy courses in executive development programs, MBA, master of science, and undergraduate programs, having won multiple teaching awards. Dr. Prochno has written articles in the areas of knowledge management, organizational routines, cross border management, and manufacturing strategy, and has presented his research at national and international conferences.

Christina Walsh:                Kathleen Finnegan is an Intelligence Officer in the United States Air Force, and has been serving for seven and a half years. She has worked a variety of jobs and has led teams of up to 150 airmen analyzing data near real-time for deployed members, and as small as five airmen providing training. She’s worked at multiple levels of leadership and has had the opportunity to program and execute various budgets of up to $424 million. Kathleen graduated with her Smith MBA in May of this year.

Christina Walsh:                And Robin Nathan is Senior Enrollment Advisor with the Online Masters program, and she will be presenting that.

Christina Walsh:                In today’s session, Paulo will begin with a short overview of the University of Maryland and some school vision. He will highlight key differentiators of the Smith MBA programs, including their impressive network of Smith School alumni and faculty. Next, Paulo will talk about the Online MBA program, including the specializations offered, the structure of the program, benefits of learning online, and some campus resources available to our online students.

Christina Walsh:                And Kathleen will speak about her time in the program and what brought her to the Smith School.

Christina Walsh:                And Robin will then review the steps for applying into the Online MBA program, including some helpful tips, and discuss tuition and the funding options that are available.

Christina Walsh:                Following our speakers, we will have a Q&A session to answer any of your outstanding questions.

Christina Walsh:                And now, I would like to turn it over to Paulo. Thank you.

Paulo Prochno:                 Thank you. So welcome everybody, and I have been at the Smith School for 12 years now, and I’ve been teaching in the Online program since it started. And I always like to tell this story at the start that I was initially skeptical about Online MBA, and I teach strategy, and I was not very convinced that I would be able to teach strategy online effectively.

Paulo Prochno:                 And we saw that initially when we started the program, that a few faculty were kind of uncertain about that. And then after I developed the course and started teaching, then I became a real convert to the online format. Teaching online made me also a better teacher in our face to face programs, and I think that the program works really well, and performance of the students has been great, equivalent if not even better than the students that we have here in our full-time and part-time MBA programs on campus.

Paulo Prochno:                 So that’s a program that I like a lot. I like to teach in the program. I think the program is very strong. And so I started in this role of Assistant Dean of the Online program last month, and the program was the first few years Judy Frels was the Dean for the program, and she did amazing work of leading the program. And we have a great team as well, so I would like to describe here some things about the School first, and then we will talk about some specific elements of the program.

Paulo Prochno:                 If you have any questions, remember you can post that on the questions, and then we will address later at the end of the presentation.

Paulo Prochno:                 So here just starting with some views about our mission, our values. So if you look there, the Smith School’s mission is to create knowledge, promote a learning environment that fosters intellectual discovery. I think this last segment of our mission is important. We want to equip current and future leaders to assess complex problems and deliver innovative solutions.

Paulo Prochno:                 So that’s what we try in the MBA program, is we want to go beyond simply the knowledge of specific disciplines like finance, marketing, organizational behavior, but we want to give you the tools to assess complex problems and deliver innovative solutions.

Paulo Prochno:                 So the structure of the program, the course work, etc., they all build into something broader, which is your ability to make better decisions and to progress in your careers.

Paulo Prochno:                 And then we have the three values there. We do the right things the right way. We embrace challenges and opportunities. We have a collective passion for excellence.

Paulo Prochno:                 And on the picture there on the right, that’s a picture of Robert Smith, the School is named after him after he gave a gift, and he gave multiple gifts to the school over his lifetime, and he’s a graduate of our undergraduate program back in 1950. And he had a very successful career, and he, for example, he built Crystal City, and Crystal City this year has been announced as the new headquarters of Amazon. So he’s really a visionary that was kind of looking way ahead.

Paulo Prochno:                 And so this idea of embracing challenges and opportunities and a collective passion for excellence, this is something that is part of the spirit of the school. Was there since the start, and it’s a strong feature of what we do.

Paulo Prochno:                 So then we may be asking yourself why should I take a MBA at the Smith School, and then specifically why an online MBA? First thing, we are really proud about our faculty. If you look at research rankings, there are different publications that publish research rankings. The Smith School is usually a Top 15 school, some departments are Top Five.

Paulo Prochno:                 But we have a really strong tradition in doing good research, and we do think that matters for the students. Having that strong tradition of research means that the knowledge that we’re bringing to you, it’s up-to-date and takes into account the most recent developments in the field. And a lot of people that teach in the online program are developing some interesting cool ideas, and you’ll be able during the courses to have access to those.

Paulo Prochno:                 So I think that’s something that is really important. We are proud about that, and I think it reflects on a better learning experience.

Paulo Prochno:                 Also we have a next slide that talks more about rankings, so I will talk about that in the next slide. But we have a track record for excellence. Another feature of the program, we do have an important element of experiential phase of learning. And this is something that it’s hard to do it well, and I think we have been doing that well for a long time in our executive MBA program.

Paulo Prochno:                 And we copied this successful feature that we had in our executive MBA program, we adopted the same idea in the Online MBA. And so the idea there, remember, that in this last slide I told about this solving complex problems and developing innovative solutions, that’s the opportunity for you to make sense of different courses and apply it to a specific situation. So we think that’s an important feature, that’s a feature that adds a lot of value to the online students.

Paulo Prochno:                 Beyond that, we also have coaching. So we have two wonderful professionals, they also do coaching for our part-time MBA students. And they are really amazing, I mean sometimes I think I should be coached by them because they do an excellent job. They understand the needs of the MBA students, and the different needs because each one of you may have a different objective.

Paulo Prochno:                 That’s very different from the usual full-time MBA experience. The full-time MBA experience, people are here to get a job, that’s their major outcome. For the part-time, online, and executive MBA programs, usually those are working professionals and they have multiple objectives. Some of them want to just progress, be promoted in their current companies. Some of them want to shift areas, go to another area.

Paulo Prochno:                 So those coaches, they understand all those needs and they can give you very good input on how to sometimes shape or reshape your career to achieve the objectives that you want. So you have access to that through online channels. And if you live close to the Washington DC region, you can also come to one our locations, Baltimore, City Grove, College Park, Washington DC, to have an in-person kind of coaching.

Paulo Prochno:                 Entrepreneur spirit, so that’s kind of one distinguishing feature of the University and of the School. People here, we were one of the first to launch an online program with synchronized sessions, so we’ll talk more about that later, and we are constantly renewing our programs. So there’s a spirit of entrepreneurship, focus on innovation. We have a strong Center for Entrepreneurship at the business school, this is part of the spirit of the school and that’s what also … Being part of this I think it’s beneficial to every student.

Paulo Prochno:                 And more broadly, a personal story also. When I came to UMD when I interviewed for a faculty position here, at the end of the day I talked to multiple people, I made a presentation. At the end of the day, I had such a good feeling about the place. I was really happy with … I admired the people that I talked to. I knew some of them from conferences or from articles that I had read, but then getting to know them in person was a very positive experience because they were very nice.

Paulo Prochno:                 And that was my first kind of experience, but then when I started teaching, I saw that that was a reflection of the overall culture of the institution. Our students also are very collaborative, so they are constantly helping each other, and I see in all our programs. So the idea is some people may have the feeling that okay it’s online, that I won’t feel as part of a community, that we will not feel close to faculty and to other students.

Paulo Prochno:                 I think on the contrary. The online program, people are even more of a community, and there is a proximity even though it’s through virtual methods, I think we feel connected, we feel part of this broader community.

Paulo Prochno:                 And that’s something also that for me, my experience teaching in the online program, I feel more connected to my online students. And the reason is we have in the synchronous sessions and the sessions that we have every week, when I’m teaching my course for seven weeks I’m there, and I see the faces of the students right in front of me. I see their names, and it’s 20 students maximum per class, so I know them, I know their names, I can see they’re pretty close to me.

Paulo Prochno:                 Compare that to a regular classroom experience where I may have 60 students in the classroom, some of them are sitting there on the back row and I cannot see their names, or they’re far away. So in a sense that even though it’s a virtual program, I think that technology helps the current … So the tools that we use, and I do feel that this commitment to the community happens in the online as much or even more than in our regular face-to-face programs.

Paulo Prochno:                 And we do have also opening and closing residences where you will be here, you will have the opportunity to be here together with your colleagues, together with faculty, so we’ll talk more about that. So we have different elements that reinforce this sense of community.

Paulo Prochno:                 So in terms of rankings, I told that I was going to talk more about that. There are different rankings, you probably know, different publications that bring rankings about full-time, part-time, online programs. So those are some of the most recent rankings. We were number eight in the US News & World Report ranking of online MBA programs. The Economist in 2017, they had the ranking of faculty quality, we were number one, which we are proud of.

Paulo Prochno:                 And part-time MBA number 15, and research number 16 in the World Financial Times. And if you look, there is another ranking of top journals in management, and in this decade we are number 13, and we are quite ahead of many of some big-name schools. And executive MBA, it’s number seven.

Paulo Prochno:                 I think also we highlight here the executive MBA because one of the things that ended up happening is that we launched the Online MBA program, and we ended up attracting certain profile of students that it’s very similar to our executive MBA students. So in some ways I see sometimes our online MBA is even closer to our executive MBA than it is to our part-time or full-time MBA in terms of the student profile, and that’s [inaudible 00:16:10] as you can see that we do that very well.

Paulo Prochno:                 We are a very respected, and the students like the program a lot, so I think that a lot of the successful feature of the Online MBA we borrowed from the executive MBA program, and I think that works very well.

Paulo Prochno:                 We are accredited by AACSB, which is the major accreditation body in the United States, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, so we have all our accreditations.

Paulo Prochno:                 In terms now of the Online MBA, so I gave a brief overview of some features of the School and some elements why you should come here, but let me explain a little bit more of the mechanism of the Online MBA.

Paulo Prochno:                 So it’s a program that you can complete in 24 months. That does not mean that you have to complete in 24 months. If you want to go slower because of family commitments or maybe you have a small child or you’re changing your job or something, you can go slower. The university puts a limit, you have to finish in a maximum of five years. So you can finish in two years if you want. A lot of people finish in two years, most people, but you can take it longer if you want.

Paulo Prochno:                 It’s a 54 credit program like any of our other MBA programs, all our MBA programs are 54 credits. And it’s organized in six 14-week terms. So those terms, in fact we divide fall or spring term or summer term in two periods of seven weeks. So we have a course that starts and then seven weeks later, another course starts, so we have those courses in cycles of seven weeks.

Paulo Prochno:                 Those courses, we have a mix of… In your first year it’s what we call the core courses, so the basic areas in business, finance, accounting, organizational behavior, strategy, marketing, etc. So you’re building this broad knowledge about business, and then later in your second year, you can do specific concentrations. We have bundles of electives in different areas that we’ll talk more about them in our next slides.

Paulo Prochno:                 Apart from that, we have during the winter, which is a very compressive term in general, you have the alternative to do either an international business course online, or you can go do the global study course. The global study course is a global trip. Students go to one of we usually offer six destinations every year. So this year we are offering Japan and Singapore, UAE, China, South Africa, and Brazil, so five in total.

Paulo Prochno:                 And I have been leading the Doing Business in Brazil program for a long time. So the idea there is that you’ll learn more about doing business in that country. Those courses also include projects. You do projects for companies from those countries, and in general, we spend one week in one of those destinations. So each group is going to a different destination.

Paulo Prochno:                 This is open to our online, part-time, full-time MBA and executive MBA students, so usually the groups have a mix of people from the multiple courses. Which is also nice, it’s an opportunity to know people from the other programs, interact, and you spend one week in a country learning how to do business in that country.

Paulo Prochno:                 So that’s an alternative. It’s not mandatory, it’s an option that is there. But it’s a quite interesting option, another experiential learning option that we have.

Paulo Prochno:                 And I mentioned that already, but I think it’s important to notice that our program has what we call the synchronous element. So it’s not that you just watch videos and you do exams. No, we have actual classes once a week, one and a half hours. Once a week per course, so if you are doing the 24-month format you would take two courses in parallel.

Paulo Prochno:                 So twice a week you would be going to classes. You are at home, you are anywhere in front of a computer. But that’s a 90 minute class like any other class that we have here on campus. So it’s similar to any other face-to-face program, it’s just the delivery that happens virtually.

Paulo Prochno:                 And as I mentioned, happens virtually, but it happens I think as effectively as in a regular program because we have breakout rooms, we have group discussions, we discuss cases. So there are a lot of things that we do during those live sessions, during those synchronous sessions every week.

Paulo Prochno:                 So in terms of specializations, you can specialize … Accounting is one of them. Finance, information systems and business analytics, marketing, supply chain management. So if you choose any one of those, you will have some electives that are within that area, and you do those electives to complete your 54 credits.

Paulo Prochno:                 Or you can say okay I don’t want to specialize, I want to be kind of have more of a view of a general manager. So then you would take one elective from each area so you do a bundle of electives that is kind of a mix of all those specialization areas.

Paulo Prochno:                 In terms of the campus residencies, so as I mentioned we do have two opportunities for you to be together with your colleagues in classroom. One at the start of the program, so the first week of your Online MBA is here in College Park, and it’s three days, very intensive days. You have introduction to different courses that you will have throughout the two years, but also you’ll have some projects. You start doing some experiential basis things right here right on the opening residency.

Paulo Prochno:                 And then when you are about to graduate, you have a closing residency, which is a business simulation where it’s basically putting all the pieces together. It’s quite an interesting experience that’s an opportunity to kind of apply what you learned throughout the two or more years that you have been here.

Paulo Prochno:                 And it’s interesting, we have there in the slide a quote from Dan Goldsmith. He was one of my students, and he graduated in ’16, and he’s now teaching for us. He’s teaching in the undergraduate program, he’s teaching in the part-time MBA program. So from a student he became one of our … He was a great student, he’s a great speaker as well, so we ended up hiring him as an adjunct faculty.

Paulo Prochno:                 He’s not full-time faculty. He has his other activities, but he teaches some courses for us. It is great to see former students kind of coming back and becoming also faculty members.

Paulo Prochno:                 The last thing that I want to highlight is this Action Learning Project. So the idea is, as I mentioned, this is something that we borrowed from the executive MBA. We have been doing that for a long time. We think it’s very important for you to apply your knowledge to a real situation, to a real-world situation.

Paulo Prochno:                 So each student will have to propose a problem to solve. It could be a problem in your company or a startup you want to create or a company you know and you work with. And then the groups of students select projects. They choose and they organize themselves in groups, and then they have 14 weeks to work on a problem and propose solutions.

Paulo Prochno:                 So I think that’s another opportunity to make the knowledge more tangible to okay, you learned in all those courses, now it’s your chance to apply what you learned to a real situation. And companies are usually very happy with the output. We had one company that just went through the cycle in summer with the Online MBA students. They were so happy that asked to be part of again, and now the part-time students are doing a project for them. So that’s something that I think adds a lot of value to the students and to the company as well.

Paulo Prochno:                 So I think some distinguishing features of the Online experience. As I have been talking about, the quality is the same rigor as on campus, so we don’t see any difference. The course that I teach in the online format is exactly the same course that I teach for the full-time program, for the executive MBA program, for the part-time. So it’s the same content, the same rigor, and there is this opportunity to connect to your colleagues starting from the opening residency here and then throughout the program, and interacting with professors as well.

Paulo Prochno:                 It’s convenient, so you can … Of course, you have those synchronous sessions, the live sessions. You have to be there twice a week, one and a half hours per evening. But apart from that, you can pace how do you do, you can organize your time to deliver the assignment.

Paulo Prochno:                 And also as I mentioned, if you want to take longer than two years, you can take longer. So it respects your needs, and you have a lot of support. So you have enrollment advisors, student advisors, technical supports. There is support all the time.

Paulo Prochno:                 And really, that’s the program now that I started managing this program and I learned more about how things are done on the background. I am amazed by the level of support that students get. And we address pretty quickly any issue, usually in like one or two days, if you have an issue that will be solved. So there is really a culture of customer service. We try to make sure that your experience is great.

Paulo Prochno:                 Okay, I mentioned already that you have the Office of Career Services, so you have career coaches that are there to help you. And you can come to campus if you live close by, or you can access online if you live farther away. And you have also our Hire Mate recruiting system job database that you have access. You have access to alumni advisor networks, so there are a lot of career-oriented resources that you can access, and you’ll be able to access throughout your life. After you graduate, you still have access to those.

Paulo Prochno:                 And also, for active-duty military and veteran services, we have one person dedicated for that. Frank Goertner, he’s amazing and he has been supporting military and veterans, and we will try to make sure that your specific needs are met.

Paulo Prochno:                 Okay, so now this is the view from a faculty member that now became Dean for the program. But I think the most important view is the view from the student side. So now Kathleen Finnegan, she just graduated from the program, and I think she will give you a more … the view from her side. What were the challenges? What were the great things about the program?

Paulo Prochno:                 So Kathleen, thank you very much for coming back to talk to our prospective students, and now all yours.

Kathleen Finnegan:              Thank you so much. I’m really excited to be here to talk to you about my experience while I was at the Smith School. Congratulations to everybody that dialed in to begin your pursuit of finding the perfect MBA program. I definitely think you’re at the right place.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I’ll start with why I chose an MBA and specifically why I wanted to go to the Smith School. To be promotion eligible in the Air Force, you have to have a master’s degree at some point, and a lot of people will just take the route of checking a box in maybe an easy or better-fitting masters program.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I wanted something that was going to be a little bit more challenging and useful, and may be able to help me even post-military career if that’s a choice that I want to make later down the road for a transition.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I chose Smith School specifically because I was really interested in data analytics and economics, and the Smith School is one of the few programs that I found that has a really strong data analysis program and offers a lot of classes on that, and you can even track that specifically. I ended up just specializing in a general track and picking and choosing a lot of different classes because they offer so much for you as a student.

Kathleen Finnegan:              What I really liked about the program was that I was still able to work full-time and apply everything that I was learning every single day. I remember specifically from my Leadership & Teamwork class. At the time I was leading a small team, it was about 15 people, 15 to 20 people, and it was composed of military members, contractors, and civilians.

Kathleen Finnegan:              So I had a lot of different personality types, a lot of different levels of experience. And every single class, that evening we would have a specific leadership tool that we would learn. And then the next I’d turn around and based on the project that we were working that week, I was able to apply it. So it really helped reinforce everything that I was learning in the classroom every night.

Kathleen Finnegan:              And I was also able to take the experiences of my peers in the classroom and apply those to the problem sets as well, so I loved that about the program.

Kathleen Finnegan:              Another thing is the statistics that were mentioned earlier about the faculty are certainly not for show. After being in the program for I would say longer than the students, this faculty is extremely supportive and patient. And they’re also very talented. The experiences that they bring from their professional life are incredible. It’s great to hear their stories.

Kathleen Finnegan:              We do different case studies, and most classes you have quite a few case studies that you read through, and those are really interesting to see how businesses started from the ground up, or they had to reshape their different programs. Having a professional and a professor all in one to speak to those experiences from their background was really phenomenal. I just learned a lot that way.

Kathleen Finnegan:              As far as the residency experiences, that is definitely really unique. The opening residency is very exciting because you’re surrounded by people that are pretty much just like you. They are joining this program because they are ambitious, they’re goal-oriented, and they are coming from all different backgrounds. There are some military members, there are some professionals, there are some entrepreneurs, there’s some small business owners.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I remember specifically from my opening residency there was an individual who was pregnant with her first child getting ready to start the program. I was like, “Wow, I thought I had a lot on my plate with my job and getting ready to deploy. No, it’s like that’s a whole nother level.” So I commended her for taking on such a big undertaking starting a family like that.

Kathleen Finnegan:              And then the closing residency was absolutely amazing. I just went through that in May, and it was such a great way to end the program because it’s a business simulation that requires you to apply pretty much every single course that you’ve learned throughout your time at the Smith School.

Kathleen Finnegan:              And I loved it. I had a great team. We had tons of fun. And it is challenging. You are in a classroom with them for quite a few hours for those three days. You might throw a couple papers or notebooks because you get frustrated, but that’s part of teamwork and learning, and ultimately it was just such a wonderful way to complete the program.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I know we already had some questions about work/life balance and what to expect there. So my recommendation for coming in, you may think that you have really great time management, but it will probably put your time management skills to the test. So I definitely did a lot of research online ahead of time as best as I could, reading time management blogs.

Kathleen Finnegan:              One of the things that was very helpful for me was having a physical planner, and I think that’s kind of personal preference. I would write down my assignments in the planner and kind of block off times on the weekend when I’d have to get those things done. But I also made sure I had a few hours every weekend for me to kind of relax and decompress because I was balancing work and school at the same time.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I also used the Brain Dump Method a lot every single evening. So I would have a note pad where if I had a lot going on and just things on my mind that I knew would keep me up at night, I would just write all those things down on a list and then I’d have them for the next day. So I wasn’t wrestling at night with I can’t forget to do this tomorrow or I have this assignment coming up, I knew I had it written down somewhere so I could just brain dump it and forget it and come back to it the next day.

Kathleen Finnegan:              So whether you have something physical that you’re writing things down, or you’re doing it on your phone or your iPad, just keep making those lists.

Kathleen Finnegan:              Also, get a friend in the program, whether it’s through your cohort or one of your classes, someone that’s maybe in a similar situation for you as far as where you are in your life. And vent to them, because peers in your workplace may not understand what you’re going through with this program, so having a friend in the program you kind of attack it as a team, will definitely help you.

Kathleen Finnegan:              And I would definitely say don’t be afraid to email classmates, whether you email classmates or a group, or maybe a few individual classmates that you know where you don’t necessarily find yourself being successful with some of the assignments. Reach out to them, and you can even reach out to the professors too.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I know in one finance class, I was really struggling, and I think I was getting close to being worried I wasn’t going to be able to complete assignments to the best of my ability. I reached out to the professor and he said, “If you’re at your phone right now, here’s my cell phone number. Give me a call, we’ll work through the problem together.” And it was probably Sunday at 7:00 or 8:00 at night, and that’s incredible.

Kathleen Finnegan:              I never had that experience as an undergraduate student, so to get that at the graduate level where I’m a professional, and to receive that kind of respect from a professor, one professional to another, I was just astounded to get that kind of support. So don’t be afraid to stick up your hand and ask for help because they will be there for you, whether it’s a classmate or a professor.

Kathleen Finnegan:              And if there are any other questions later on about work/life balance, we can definitely get to those. But that’s all I have, and I will hand it off to Christina.

Christina Walsh:                Thank you so much, Kathleen. And now we will turn it over to Robin to talk about the admissions and financial aid and all that fun stuff.

Robin Nathan:                   Thank you, and I wanted to start by echoing the earlier thoughts of thanking everyone for taking time out of their busy day to join us.

Robin Nathan:                   Before I start with kind of next steps with the admission requirements and the actual application, I really wanted to discuss our online class profile. You may be wondering what kind of our typical or average student looks like.

Robin Nathan:                   So what we have done is taken really a poll of our most recent class which started in the fall semester. I’ll give you a second to kind of look over some of the highlights and averages, but I’ll note a few of them.

Robin Nathan:                   You’ll see that we do know for our cohort average is about 592 in terms of the GMAT, and the average GRE score was 313. Acceptable scores are typically 550 or better for the GMAT, and 300 or better for the GRE. Scores will be taken into consideration with the other components of your application profile, so the GMAT and the GRE scores are not necessarily just the sole determinant of your admittance to the program.

Robin Nathan:                   Additionally, our students are experienced in various backgrounds including business owners, consultants, engineers, chemists, CPA executives, project managers, software developers, IT, finance, banking, logistics, aerospace, education, military, and both federal and local government, all of which can make for some great classroom discussions.

Robin Nathan:                   So in terms of next steps with the admission requirements, I do want to mention first and foremost that we do work with a website, it’s called Apply Yourself. Very user-friendly website, so all of your materials will be housed online and accessible to you 24/7. That’s where the Online MBA application is held, so if you don’t have access to that please make sure you reach out to your enrollment advisor so you can have a link to the Apply Yourself website.

Robin Nathan:                   So we do require a couple of components, let me just go through each of them kind of one by one. First and foremost, official transcripts. We do need an official copy of your transcripts from all schools attended. So your bachelor’s degree, making sure that that’s from a regionally accredited institution. Any schools where you received any measure of transfer credit, and any post-graduate work.

Robin Nathan:                   In terms of requesting your official transcripts, if you don’t have a copy at home, I recommend visiting your alma mater’s website. Many schools are kind of with the times now and do provide electronic copies of your transcript that can be sent almost immediately via email. If not, if a hard copy is only available, you can just request that and have that mailed to you, and then go ahead and scan and upload that copy.

Robin Nathan:                   I will also note that we do need official transcripts upon acceptance to the program. Those would be sent directly from your alma mater to our Graduate Office.

Robin Nathan:                   Next item would be your professional resume. Really no set format or required format for that. Any kind of professional resume or CV detailing your background would be appropriate.

Robin Nathan:                   You also want to include your official GRE or GMAT scores. You can see your enrollment advisor for specific documentation on how to have those sent directly to our graduate office.

Robin Nathan:                   There is a waiver that’s available for qualified candidates, so we would have you speak with your admission advisor to determine if you are eligible for that. That waiver is a one to two-page essay in which the candidate is demonstrating not only their academic background but their strong quantitative and analytical skills.

Robin Nathan:                   Additionally, we require one letter of recommendation from a professional source, highly recommended that’s from a current or former supervisor or manager, anyone that could speak to your capacity for graduate-level work. That is a one-page template that is also housed in the application website, and your colleagues are also welcome to do a formal letter as well.

Robin Nathan:                   Additionally, there is an approximate one-page professional statement. The Admissions Committee would really like to hear directly from you. This is really your mouthpiece, this is your opportunity to really talk about you behind your resume, behind your transcripts, and really present yourself as that strong candidate.

Robin Nathan:                   They do want to learn from a prospective student why they feel that the Smith School is the best fit for them, why an MBA degree, why now, and a synopsis of your short- and long-term goals.

Robin Nathan:                   Finally, we do require a one-time $75 non-refundable application fee. We do have waivers that are available to applicants that are active military or military veterans, alumni, or employees of established corporate partners.

Robin Nathan:                   Finally, do speak to your admissions advisor if you need to discuss the TOEFL score. Those are for international students only, and an interview may be requested at the discretion of the Admissions Committee.

Robin Nathan:                   So moving on to important deadlines, it is one of our busiest times of the year. So we have a couple of important dates to keep in mind. We have an Instant Admissions Decision Day coming up exactly one week from today. So that’s next Wednesday, September 18th. Any candidate who has submitted a completed application by end of day next Wednesday, the 18th, the Admissions team has committed to a one business day turnaround.

Robin Nathan:                   So the following day, which is next Thursday the 19th, you’ll receive notification on both your admissions recommendation, as well as financial information as well.

Robin Nathan:                   If you’re unable to make that date, our final application deadline would be Monday, November 4th of this year.

Robin Nathan:                   A couple of other dates to keep in mind. The opening residency on campus that we talked about before is January 16 through 18 of 2020. That’s towards the end of this week, like a Thursday through a Saturday, and then classes would start the following Monday, which is January 20th of next year.

Robin Nathan:                   You will see our contact information also on this slide, as well as direct line that you could call our office with any additional questions.

Robin Nathan:                   So moving on to the funding and financial aid piece. So the online program is, as discussed before, the 54 credit hour program. It’s $1,644 per credit hour. It’s important to note there’s no differentiation between in-state and out-of-state tuition. Tuition covers curriculum, the technology platform licensing and 24/7 support, and then accommodations required for the two three-day residency periods.

Robin Nathan:                   Transportation to and from the Smith School for the residency, as well as course books and materials are not covered in those tuition or fees. Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Robin Nathan:                   There is a $153 university-mandated Technology Fee, which is charged twice a year during the spring and fall semesters. And then UMD students are required to submit a $1,000 non-refundable Enrollment Deposit to reserve a space in the class. Enrollment Deposits are applied as a credit towards the first term tuition.

Robin Nathan:                   Harbor partnerships and military personnel using post-9/11 benefits may request to have their Enrollment Deposit waived.

Robin Nathan:                   When it comes to financing your education, the University of Maryland and Smith School offer a variety of financial awards to assist in financing your education. So we do offer a merit-based program to our students who have been formally admitted to the Online MBA program. Merit award is based on that same kind of holistic manner as they’re looking at the application documents.

Robin Nathan:                   So they are looking at an applicant’s academic performance, certifications, professional experience, as well as background and strength and quality of the application documents. This merit award can range from zero all the way up to 30%.

Robin Nathan:                   We do have our Double Terp award. Smith offers a Double Terp award to alumni of the University of Maryland College Park who are newly admitted to the Online MBA program, so please be sure to indicate that you a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park on your application.

Robin Nathan:                   There are veteran awards, there are merit-based awards available to U.S. military veterans, active service members, and National Guard reservists or their family members.

Robin Nathan:                   Additionally, we do offer corporate partnerships. The Smith School has partnered with specific organizations that offer a percent tuition reduction, no application fee or enrollment deposit for their full-time employees and immediate family members who enroll in the Online MBA program. To learn if your employer is part of this program, please contact your enrollment advisor. Corporate partnerships also are in the 10 to 30% reduced tuition.

Robin Nathan:                   Additionally, financial aid is available to all eligible students. Graduate loans can range up to $20,000 to 500 per academic year. Students may use as much or as little as needed, especially if the student has employer tuition reimbursement benefits and/or merit awards to apply to their tuition.

Robin Nathan:                   Our FAFSA Code is 002103, so once you’ve completed the FAFSA application, please feel free to call our Financial Service Center for general questions. They’d be more than helpful in assisting you.

Robin Nathan:                   And then finally for military benefits, for those students that are active military and/or veterans, Smith offers a number of services to help you on your path to success. We do accept the post-9/11 GI Bill, tuition assistance, and we do participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. We do, as mentioned before, offer dedicated military advocates. We’ll absolutely be able to put you in touch with that department as soon as possible to help you advise and answer any questions that are specific to questions or concerns that military students may have.

Robin Nathan:                   Many students also have tuition reimbursement benefits through their employer to help fund their education. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and once you’re accepted into our program, students are welcome to contact the Bursar’s Office to discuss direct billing questions.

Robin Nathan:                   Finally, private loans or graduate plus loans are also options, and we recommend that you reach out to our Financial Service Center. They’d be happy to answer all of your questions.

Robin Nathan:                   So with that said, we’re now going to turn this back over to a general Q&A session.

Christina Walsh:                Thank you, Robin. All right, so we’ve received some questions so far, go ahead and submit any additional questions that you have at the time, and it looks like we have about 13 minutes to get through as much as we can. Anything that we can’t cover live today will be followed up with through your enrollment advisor directly.

Christina Walsh:                So first question, if you’re taking the Online program, can you utilize coaches in person if you live in the area? I think that question arose during our Career Services presentation portion. Paulo, can you confirm that?

Paulo Prochno:                 Yes definitely. So, of course, you have to schedule in advance that coaches are there, and they’re coaches that work with the Online MBA students. One of them is in Shady Grove, the other of them is in Baltimore during weeknights because they give support also to the part-time students there. But they can meet you either in Shady Grove, Baltimore, or College Park as needed.

Christina Walsh:                Wonderful, thank you. How much group work is involved in the program, specifically group projects?

Paulo Prochno:                 As in any other MBA program in-person or online, there is quite a lot of … Many courses do require some amount of group work, and then you interact virtually with your peers. And so in my course, there is a project that students have to develop presentations, and then they have to submit those presentations online.

Paulo Prochno:                 So that’s an important feature of any MBA program, and a lot of courses do require group work. But I think students usually handle that very well using our technology tools, it’s a smooth experience.

Christina Walsh:                Thank you. Are the residencies mandatory, and from what time in the evening will the lives class sessions begin? So kind of a two-part question there.

Paulo Prochno:                 Yeah, so the residencies are mandatory, both the opening and the closing residencies, so you have to come to College Park at the start and the end of your program. And the live session classes are either from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. or 8:45 to 10:15 p.m., and this is Eastern time. So we have those two slots, most courses … All courses will have two alternatives and will have probably two days of the week.

Paulo Prochno:                 So a given course, a strategy course, is offered either on Monday or Tuesdays, 7:00 or 8:45, so we have slots all over, so you can choose whatever is more convenient for you. Some people from for example California, they would take the 8:45 p.m. courses, but even some people from Washington DC or New York, they prefer to take the later courses. So you choose based on your needs, either 7:00 or 8:45, as the starting time.

Christina Walsh:                Great, thank you. A question about the GRE and GMAT waiver, who do you contact to see if you qualify for the waiver. Robin?

Robin Nathan:                   Thank you. That would be a member of our Admissions Team. As many participants have probably already had the experience, we do really take the time to go over the entire program start to finish with a member of our advising team. So if you’re not already working with someone, I would absolutely have you contact our offices today. You’ll see that contact information.

Robin Nathan:                   If you are already working with an advisor, please reach out to them today, and they can discuss the parameters of the GMAT or GRE waiver, as well as some tips for what to include as part of that waiver essay.

Christina Walsh:                Thank you. We received a question about which website has information on the admissions requirements and all of that information, and there is actually a link to the website, the Online program website, in the Resources widget on your screen. So you can look through the list of resources available to you there and you can find the link to the website. But it’s the onlinebusiness.umd.edu is the website. Thank you.

Christina Walsh:                Question here, let’s see. Is the residency overnight or daily sessions?

Paulo Prochno:                 the residency’s full three days. So you come here, we start on Thursday morning, and it goes from Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and then there is a reception. And the next day once again 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and there are lunches and dinners. So you will be committed those three days, it’s the full three days that you will be committed to the residency.

Christina Walsh:                Wonderful, thank you. We have a couple questions about the tuition for the program, so Robin’s going to review that again for us.

Robin Nathan:                   Perfect. So let me start. The tuition per credit hour is $1,644 per credit hour. The program itself is 54 credits in total, so total tuition is $88,776. Also wanted to take note of the $75 application fee, the $153 technology fee, and then a $1,000 enrollment deposit. This enrollment deposit is required upon acceptance to the program, and is applied to your first semester tuition bill.

Christina Walsh:                Wonderful. Next question is about the career coaches. Do you find that experienced professionals in your program leverage them on a regular basis?

Paulo Prochno:                 Yeah, sure. I mean there are different needs and there are some people that are just looking for a career transition. More experienced professionals, they may have very different needs. And they do … They use the career coaches, not all of them but some of them use, and I think it’s always beneficial to their choices.

Christina Walsh:                Absolutely. I’d also like to add we had a webinar this past summer that focused on Career Services and had a graduate speaker on that as well and a representative from the Career Services department. And I think that that session was amazing learning of the services that are offered and how our online students do utilize them and the curriculum that is integrated into the program that’s available and things like that.

Christina Walsh:                So that recording link is available and the Enrollment Team has that, but the person that asked the question specifically, we’ll make sure to share that webinar link with you. It’s also available on our website.

Christina Walsh:                Pretty much a lot of the questions have been answered. There’s one about the edX MicroMasters. I’m not sure if everybody is informed about the MicroMasters, but this particular attendee is intending to have the edX MicroMasters MBA core from UMD completed this year, and then intends to apply to the program after that completion.

Christina Walsh:                And they’re just wondering how their transition from the MicroMasters to the online program, what that would look like?

Paulo Prochno:                 Yeah, I mean once you are accepted to the program, if you have the MicroMasters, if you completed the 14 credits, you are immediately waivered of the seven equivalent courses that we have in the Online MBA. So you start the program with the 14 credits, and then you would do the remaining core courses, and then you do the electives in one of the areas that we have.

Paulo Prochno:                 So that’s a smooth transition. Once you are accepted to the program, things happen more or less automatically in that sense. Then you have some advice on then which courses should take, etc., because you will have done some of the courses already through the MicroMasters classes.

Christina Walsh:                Thank you. Let’s see, this next question that arrived as we’re narrowing in on our time as well as only have a couple questions left. So this question, how can I learn if I’m eligible for merit-based awards? Robin?

Robin Nathan:                   Great questions. So this is all going back to the application process. One of the great things about our process when applying to a program is not only is it kind of an easy, streamlined process, we’re able to provide really quick answers in terms of a quick turnaround.

Robin Nathan:                   So when candidates do submit their complete application package, they’re under review for a couple of items. If they’ve submitted the GMAT waiver request, that would be reviewed. Just their general admission to the program is reviewed, as well as potential for merit-based awards.

Robin Nathan:                   So it really is in a student’s best interest to submit their application as soon as possible, because then upon an acceptance to the program, they do get notice if they are eligible for those merit-based awards. That would be outlined in a formal admission letter.

Robin Nathan:                   Also information on potential avenues for GMAT waiver is also outlined for the applicant at that time.

Christina Walsh:                Wonderful, thank you. I think this is our last question. How are we expected to pay tuition, is it a full payment at start of the term or some other? Do you know how tuition is paid?

Robin Nathan:                   There’s a couple of options, and it really depends on the student’s funding plan. So we would have them speak with the Financial Aid office to determine how best they’re going to do that. There is options for the Stafford Loans through FAFSA. There’s options we talked about for direct billing for corporate partners. There’s options for payments out of pocket.

Robin Nathan:                   So as the student is moving forward upon an acceptance, we would have them speak with those appropriate departments to line up the payment options that are most financially advantageous for them.

Christina Walsh:                Wonderful. All right, so I will close up the session today. I’d like to thank everyone for attending. On the screen, you’ll find contact information for our Enrollment Office and Paulo Prochno should you have any additional questions.

Christina Walsh:                If you are ready to apply to the Online program, or would like to schedule an appointment to speak with your advisor, links to do so can be found within the Resources widget I mentioned earlier. And the additional program links and brochure links and enrollment packet links are also provided there.

Christina Walsh:                I’d like to thank our panelists for their time and willingness to share their expertise. Thank you for everyone who participated in this session today, we’re really glad you could join us and hope the session was helpful for you.

Christina Walsh:                Now I would just like to say enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you.