Online MBA program option allows more flexibility for graduate students


Iowa State offers an online option for the Ivy MBA program.

The Ivy College of Business is expanding options for graduate students pursuing their master’s degree through the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

A new online option has been launched for the MBA program intended to provide an option for graduate students hoping to pursue the program remotely.

Valentina Salotti, associate dean for academic affairs and diversity and associate professor in finance, said the program has been modified to fit different students’ availabilities. She said she’s slowly seen their foundation grow, which allows more hybrid and online options within the program.

“There is a full-time population, but the part-time population is much more developed,” Salotti said. “The online option is essentially inspired by the desire to serve more students in a way that they can still have access to a degree program that is high quality [and] that they can take the coursework on on their own terms.”

Salotti said the online option also allows the traditional program to develop a broader market and expand beyond central Iowa.

“The target audience is a working professional, so with at least a year and a half of being professionally employed,” Salotti said.

Salotti added that the degree is helpful to both prospective students with an undergraduate degree in business and those with a technical degree who are working.

“It’s the perfect tool for either pivoting toward a managerial role or for any sort of career progression,” Salotti said.

Salotti said the college and MBA program cater to a unique population with the traditional full-time MBA option.

“With the online population, it’s a completely different target market and is for more of a working professional that is returning to get more education,” Salotti said.

Salotti said the curriculum and structure of the program will slightly differ from the traditional program.

“It is a little bit shorter, so the full-time MBA is 48 credits while the part-time MBA is 42,” Salotti said. “The coursework delivery and the way that we teach courses is a little bit different because, again, we cater to a population that has very different work experiences.”

Emily Hass, a concurrent graduate student in business administration and food science, said she thinks that after the COVID pandemic, the online program option will be beneficial for students who require more flexibility in their schedules.

“I think that a lot of people are looking for the flexibility of being able to manage their own schedule,” Hass said. “I think for people with a career, in a full-time job or with children, I think that it’s a great option because it allows them to do their classes, do their assignments [and] meet with their team [or peers] when they need to [and when it’s convenient].”

Hass said when she first entered the MBA program, she was nervous and intimidated by taking on the challenge of completing two degrees at once.

“It’s been a really great experience getting to see […] different ways that classes are run,” Hass said.

Hass said comparing the curriculum of undergraduate versus graduate studies, undergraduate studies are structured with lectures that come with homework, projects and exams. However, she said graduate studies are more interactive and application based.

“It’s also a lot more team-based than undergraduate is,” Hass said. “So, I work with my team that I’m assigned to in my very first class throughout the whole duration of my core classes, and we do projects together in every single class so that’s also been a big aspect of building my teamwork skills as well.”

Hass said the faculty and staff she has worked with in the Charles B. Handy Graduate Programs Office have shown that they want students to succeed. She added that having a support system within the college makes the program unique.

“They are so responsive, and if you have an issue, they’ll get a result right away,” Hass said. “I think that just having that support system there is what really can differentiate our program from other ones.”

Ashley Woods, a graduate student in business administration and an MBA ambassador, was unsure whether an online option for the MBA program will be beneficial.

“When it comes to some of the management classes and maybe the finance classes and the marketing [classes], I think that having an online aspect would be a difficult shift,” Woods said.

Woods said some economics courses and one of the management courses required during the program’s second year would be difficult with online learning.

“[The course content] or applying strategy would be very difficult because they require you to work in teams, and you’re constantly working with other teams in the classroom,” Woods said.

Woods said achieving a master’s degree is part of the college experience, and she feels that if the program were completely online, it would take away from this.

“If you’re only doing it online or as a concurrent student, you are kind of stripping yourself away from that experience, unless you have obligations like children or you already have a full-time job,” Woods said.

As an ambassador, Woods said she meets with prospective students virtually and at in-person meetings.

“Some of these meetings are scheduled, where it’s their own interest and they come to an event that was set up […] and then we just go over all the details about the program and the benefits,” Woods said.

Woods said she knew she wanted to go into some form of management after achieving her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, and after speaking with a previous employer, she was inspired to enter the MBA program.

“I really love working with people. I’m a people person at heart, and engineering isn’t necessarily a major or career field where you’re constantly communicating with people,” Woods said.

Woods said she saw the program as more cost-effective because it reduced the duration of time she needed to spend obtaining the degree.

“[The program] was at Iowa State and I love this school, so that kind of helped me push through my MBA,” Woods said.