Tippie to start a complete online professional MBA program

The UI Tippie College of Business will start a completely online professional Master of Business Administration program after the UI announced it would phase out its full-time M.B.A. program by May 2019.


Ben Allan Smith

Students roam the halls of the Pappajohn Buisiness Building, home of the Tippie College of Business, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.

Aadit Tambe, News Reporter

The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business has permission from the state Board of Regents to start a completely online professional Master of Business Administration program.

The professional M.B.A. program right now is offered in the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines, said David Frasier, the Tippie associate dean of M.B.A. programs. It has been running for more than 50 years in those locations.

There was interest expressed from people in other parts of the states, he said.

“We feel that expanding and making the program fully available online will have benefit both for us and for people who cannot make it to our physical sites,” Frasier said.

Certain courses within the professional M.B.A. program have been offered online since 2003, which have been popular with current on-site students, he said.

“Market research indicated there is opportunity for us to increase our number of students and increase satisfaction among our potential audiences,” he said. “So we made the decision to request from the [regents] that they give us their blessing to make the program entirely available online.”

There are 960 students in the on-site professional M.B.A. program, Frasier said. The hope is to take the total professional M.B.A. enrollment, including online, to around 1,200.

The administration does not expect a need to hire more instructors, he said. Because this is the last year of the college’s full-time M.B.A. program, most instructors will be shifted from that program to the online professional M.B.A. program.

“Certainly if we grow, there will be opportunities to increase the total faculty count,” he said. “But that’s more a department-by-department decision.”

The professional M.B.A. program draws the most enrollment at the master’s level.

The online professional M.B.A. program will be primarily marketed through press releases, if it gets approval from the regents, Frasier said.

“Based on the research we’ve done, we anticipate that the initial demand will be greater than our capacity to meet it,” he said.

Iowa will be the 10th school in the Big Ten to take its professional M.B.A. program online, Frasier said.

“We are certainly not on the leading edge, but the consensus is if there is more demand than [other schools] can handle, we think with our reputation, we are going to be well-positioned to get the numbers we expected,” he said.

Jennifer Blackhurst, a professor of management science who closely involved with the new online professional M.B.A. program, supports the fully online idea.

“I worked with the Department of Distance and Online Education here,” she said. “I recorded videos in a studio and designed the online class.”

She said it was an engaging experience.

“Students appreciated it because they got the same quality of content and instruction,” she said. “They were able to do group assignments, too. It was a package that was convenient for them, considering these were working professionals.”

This program change follows last year’s announcement that Tippie would phase out its flagship full-time M.B.A. program by May 2019.

“We’re starting to move into a world where people are looking for more stackable degrees … where they gather credentials and bits and pieces over time, and then they start pulling those together over the life of a career,” Tippie Dean Sarah Gardial said in August 2017.