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After retiring, Rick Burrows went back to school to earn his MBA from Missouri State University. He hopes to teach at the collegiate level.
After retiring, Rick Burrows went back to school to earn his MBA from Missouri State University. He hopes to teach at the collegiate level.

Professionals boost potential with MBAs

Posted online
When Rick Burrows retired from Procter and Gamble in 2009, the 56-year-old knew he wanted to embark on a second career.

The retirement package from his former employer included partial reimbursement for continued education, so he headed to Missouri State University to earn his Master of Business Administration.

“I always wanted to get my MBA,” he said. “I knew I wanted to continue to work in some capacity, and I thought it was important to show potential employers that this old dog could learn new tricks.”

Burrows, who has worked as a small-business consultant since leaving P&G, graduated from MSU in August and hopes his MBA helps him reach a goal of teaching at the collegiate level.

An MBA prepares students for a wide variety of jobs, according to Christopher Lynn, MBA program adviser at MSU.

“An MBA is an advanced management degree and is a good choice for an advanced degree, whether you’re just coming out of school or are a working professional,” Lynn said. “The ultimate goal is that it provides a good theoretical and practical base in business.”

Benefits vs. costs
Burrows pursued his MBA to move in a new professional direction, but for other professionals, motivation may come from the potential for higher paychecks. While representatives of the local schools said they don’t have regional average salary increase records for their MBA graduates, a 2005 study by the Graduate Management Admissions Council found that an MBA graduate could expect to earn roughly $106,000 a year – almost $32,000 more than someone with high school diploma.

Those possible higher earnings might be enticing – but they don’t come without costs. While the local MBA schools report that employer tuition reimbursement is an option for 30 percent to 60 percent of their students, prospective students will face MBA tuition between roughly $9,000 and $27,000 in the local market.

Still, the cost may be worth it. The Quacquarelli Symonds Top MBA Jobs & Salary Trends Survey for 2010–11 found that MBA graduates have the potential to earn bonuses from their employers. According to the survey, more than 70 percent of MBA employers in North America and Western Europe said they would pay a bonus in addition to base salary for MBA hires. The highest U.S. bonus reported was more than $200,000, and the average in Europe and North America was $23,500.

Myriad options
Prospective MBA students in the Ozarks have several program options. Other area schools with MBA programs are Columbia College, Drury University, Southwest Baptist University, University of Phoenix and Webster University. There also are multiple methods of program delivery – online, on campus or a mix of both – allowing students, and particularly those who are working professionals, to choose the option that best fits their schedules.

“We have a wide variety of working professionals in our program,” said Angie Davis, MBA director at Drury. “There are bankers, people in manufacturing and health care professionals. There really is a broad array.”

Finding the right fit
Just as MBA students come from many professional fields, there also are myriad choices for MBA types. At SBU and University of Phoenix, for example, students can choose from concentrations that include management and health care. Other schools, including MSU and Drury, however, offer general MBAs, and rather than having a defined list of MBA concentrations, students can develop their own focuses through elective courses.

“We actually did away with our concentrations,” said Drury’s Davis. “So many schools have made it specialized, and we felt by concentrating in certain areas, students were missing out.”

Another element that differentiates Drury is a required nine-day international trip.Webster University and Southwest Baptist University also offer opportunities to travel abroad, but such trips are not required.

MBA programs typically require at least 36 credit hours, not including prerequisites, though that number can be higher if the student chooses an area of concentration. Some schools offer eight-week courses, allowing MBA students to focus on one class at a time, while others offer traditional semesters.

Drury offers a five-week boot camp for qualifying students to finish 24 hours of prerequisite classes in the summer and start the MBA program in the fall.  

On average, completing an MBA takes about two years.

“Some students can get through it in a little over a year, but those students are really very busy,” said Ken Bandy, dean of the college of business and computer science at SBU.

Laura Ward, director of Webster University’s Ozark Regional Campus, said earning an MBA requires commitment.

“Sometimes it is a circus act for working professionals with families to balance on a tight rope,” Ward said. “Once students settle in, they find the time, because education is a priority for them.”

Colleges that offer traditional campus classes or require some on-campus attendance also may offer night and weekend schedules. And for some students, it may be that staying off campus is the best way to align scheduling.

Jeannine Lake, territory vice president for the University of Phoenix, said the school’s program is tailored to meet the needs of busy students.

“When a student meets with an adviser, they determine the student’s needs, and the classes can be on campus, online or both,” Lake said.

At Columbia College, most coursework is online, but testing must be done on campus. The school will move its campus to Springfield from Ozark by the end of the year. The new space – 5,700 square feet leased at 3271 E. Battlefield Road in the Regions Bank building – will have 24 testing stations, compared to six at the Ozark facility, 741 N. 20th St.[[In-content Ad]]

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