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        MBA Distance Program Ranked Top 10 for a Reason

        April 21, 2014

        All News


        Distance students watch recorded lectures online featuring senior-level College of Business professors.

        Russell Wong is the Audit and Consulting Services Manager at the Southern California Edison Company in Los Angeles.

        He is also a student at Auburn University.

        Kelly Schmidt is a former director of human resources for the Media Division of the NFL and is now the Human Resources Leader at KFC.

        She, too, is a student at Auburn University.

        How so? The Auburn College of Business’ MBA distance program -- ranked seventh nationally among public universities by U.S. News & World Report.

        How does it work?

        “There are TV cameras in the classroom and we record the lectures delivered to the on-campus students, so the distance students get exactly the same lectures as the on-campus MBAs and other masters students get,” said Dan Gropper, Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs.

        “They (students) get online and can stream it down to their computers wherever they are. There are proctored exams, working with our graduate outreach office. The distance students follow in parallel exactly what happens on campus. The courses are all taught by regular Auburn faculty, not by adjuncts that are hired out on the street. The distance students get the same lectures and same materials as the on-campus students. It’s convenient to working professionals everywhere.”

        For Schmidt that could be anytime and anywhere. Sometimes she studies at 35,000 feet.

        “My job now involves so much travel. I’m on a flight every week,” said Schmidt, who received her undergraduate degree from Auburn in Aviation Management and believes she will complete the program in 2014. “Whether it’s on an airplane or in airports, I access videos wherever I have time. It’s not easy, but if you want to make it happen, you just make it happen. I put on a headset, listen to class and take notes.

        “I’m in the exact same classes that Auburn students are in. Professors do a great job of preparing students for real-world situations. In the virtual classroom, people are a lot more tenured and converse on the same level. I’m an avid learner. I needed a challenge. Learning is fun to me.”

        Wong, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, prefers the “accessibility” of the Auburn MBA distance program.

        “Getting the material is very easy. Books and material are readily available. In most cases, the lecture notes are available so that you can print and follow the video; much like being on campus,” he said.

        “The material covered is very current. The pace of the classes is just right and the material encourages critical evaluation.”

        Why Auburn?

        “Auburn provides a high value program,” Wong said. “The cost of the program ($750 per credit hours based on 36 credit hours) was very attractive in comparison to other programs that I considered; Arizona State, Oklahoma State, and University of Florida. I wanted to go to an institution with name recognition. My undergraduate university has local recognition and no football team.

        “Also, the program is very flexible. You can take one, two, three, or four classes, and they don’t push you. That flexibility was very attractive to me.”

        Schmidt, who lived in Los Angeles when she began the program, chose Auburn over nearby Southern California, Pepperdine and UCLA. After a career that has already involved stops at Continental Airlines, the NFL and KFC, Schmidt knows an MBA from Auburn can lead to greater career options.

        “The great thing about my career is I’m open to anything,” she said. “If I have limited myself to airlines, then I never would have looked at the NFL. KFC is an awesome company. I will come out of KFC as a much stronger HR partner.”

        Wong, who expects to complete the MBA program in May and is seeking a second master’s degree in Information Systems Management, said he was inspired to take what he learned at Auburn into the board room in Los Angeles and apply it toward a current project.

        “Last year at this time I was taking Dr. (Daniel) Butler’s marketing class,” he said. “At the same time, the company’s Audit Services Department had a strategic initiative to establish an internal brand identity which required establishing a brand definition, and developing an implementation strategy for internally promoting the department’s brand. Dr. Butler’s class helped me identify that a brand is not a logo but is more of ‘How are we known by our (business) consumers?’ The class discussions were immediately applicable to my project and allowed me to develop a brand strategy for the department and present it to the senior management team and my vice president. The brand definition and implementation strategy was also submitted as my class project.”

        What makes Auburn’s online graduate program so strong?

        “The faculty is top-notch. All of the material is current and immediately applicable to work. Questions are answered in a very timely manner,” Wong said. “The support structure is very good. The registration process is easy. Getting to class material (notes and lecture videos) is also easy. This aspect of the process has become easier over the last couple of years.”

        “The material covered is very current. The pace of the classes is just right and the material encourages critical evaluation.”

        For Wong and Schmidt, school at Auburn has already made an impact on them professionally – long before they have completed the program, which typically takes three-and-a-half years.

        “I think differently about business now than I did before taking the program,” said Schmidt, a 2001 Auburn graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management who previously worked as Director of Human Resources for the NFL from 2006 through last September. “You dissect companies more. I’ve applied what I’ve learned and it’s helped change the way I think about my job. You analyze more and look for other ideas. You think about business for the better.

        “I evangelize the Auburn program. I feel like so many people could benefit from it. I feel like Auburn is the best place on earth.”