Georgia Southwestern State University Offers Flexibility to MBA Seekers

Barbara Kieker

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

In the Masters of Business Administration program at Georgia Southwestern State University, students can set their own pace of study, starting and finishing the program at a time that best fits their schedule. Students must complete the degree requirements within seven years of first enrolling in courses, which are available both on campus and online.

"We work hard with individuals to determine the best course schedule for them and we advise them on which courses are most time-consuming," said Susan Robinson, MBA Program Director and Accounting Faculty at Georgia Southwestern State University.

"We don't work in cohorts so students can begin the program at any time and if they are unable to participate for a few years due to personal or professional issues, that's no problem." 

GSW MBA program at a glance

GSW has maintained steady enrollment of approximately 60 students taking classes in its MBA program at any given time. About two years ago, the school raised its admission standards, limiting the number of students admitted each year.

"We're a fairly small school and we made the decision early on to pursue controlled growth.  We offer a limited number of graduate courses at any given time," Robinson said. 

Established more than 10 years ago, the program today has more students participating online and than on-campus.  Graduation requirements for the MBA program include 10 three-hour courses, eight of which are required of all students.  It is a general course of study with no specialties.

Most students are from Georgia although the on-campus MBA student population includes a large international contingent.  Approximately 10 students from other countries, including many from China, are enrolled at any given time and these students are typically right out of college. 

Approximately half of the enrolled students are within a few years of their undergraduate graduation.  The other half have been out of college for a number of years and have a significant amount of work experience.

On average, 20 students graduate each year from the MBA program.  Most get placed in jobs without assistance from the university.

"Some students are already working while they are in the program.   As a result, we don't get a lot of questions asking for help with employment matters," Robinson said.

Partnering with local business leaders

According to Robinson, the program welcomes students with real work experience as they bring a valuable perspective to the program.  The program has informally pursued students with work experience through contacts in the business community. 

"We've recently reorganized and now have a graduate admissions office, something we haven't had in the five years I've been here," Robinson said.  "And this should help with our recruiting and outreach."

The program also incorporates local business leaders into its classes as guest speakers and even as instructors.

 "Joel Wernick, president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System, taught an organizational leadership class as part of our program. And we invite a number of local business professionals in as guest speakers for our classes," Robinson said.

"We've invested in technology to make high quality recordings of these types of events to put online to benefit all our students." 

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.