Thursday, December 13, 2012
The Bridge MBA is the newest program in the Albers School and will welcome its first class in September, 2013. The program is targeted at recent college graduates who lack significant work experience and who do not have an undergraduate degree in business. It is designed to prepare these students for a solid entry into the job market and, ultimately, a leadership role in their industry.
The Bridge MBA is a full-time, one year program. Students will take 12 credits a quarter for four quarters over a 12 month period. There are many curricular and co-curricular activities designed to make up for the lack of work experience. For example, students are required to do a consulting project, take on an internship, participate in the Albers Mentor Program, and attend Albers Speaker Series events. These are "nice to have" activities in our other graduate programs, but they are not required in those programs. Similarly, this is a full-time cohort program, whereas most of our other graduate programs are flexible part-time programs giving students many options in terms of when to begin and how fast to proceed.
We are very excited about the Bridge MBA. It will address a real need in the current marketplace as many recent college graduates struggle to enter the labor market and begin their professional career. We get to design an integrated curriculum from scratch. Courses will fit together and reinforce each other much better than happens in traditional programs. Finally, it is a graduate program with many co-curricular requirements integrated into the student experience. This is something new for us, because historically we have focused on courses to meet program learning goals.
If anyone can deliver a quality fast-track and intense program like this, it is Seattle University. We are very student focused, and the Bridge MBA will require a lot of support for the students in the program. The Albers Placement Center is highly regarded by employers and will be able to identify internships for the students, and jobs upon graduation. The Albers Mentor Program has been up and running for over two decades, so we know this is a fantastic opportunity for the students in the program. Through the Projects Center, we have a strong track record of successful work with businesses on student consulting projects. The Albers Executive Speaker Series has a ten year record of bringing top business leaders to campus. In other words, we are well positioned to deliver on the distinguishing features of the program.
I am very proud of how our faculty and staff were able to move the program from concept to reality. A group of faculty and staff began work on this project in July. Working over the summer (when faculty do not normally work on committees!), they were able to design a program proposal for the full Albers faculty to consider at the beginning of the fall quarter. Responding to feedback, the task force fine tuned the program design, which was formally approved by the faculty in mid-October. We then took it to Seattle University's Academic Assembly for its approval in early November. Finally, the Seattle University Board of Trustees gave formal approval to the new degree program at its meeting on November 29th.
To design and gain approval for a new degree program in less than five months is moving really, really fast! Only at Seattle University can something like this happen! It takes a lot of collegiality and campus wide support to do something like this! :}
We will start marketing the Bridge MBA in January, but already we are receiving a number of inquiries as word spreads about the new program. That is very exciting.
When we first announced the program, students in our existing MBA program, which we are now branding as the Professional MBA program, wondered what this meant for their program. For example, some were concerned that it somehow undercut the value of their degree.
First of all, it is important to understand there are many versions of an MBA degree and a number of schools have as many as six or seven different MBA degrees. Even locally, schools have a variety of MBA degrees. For example, the main campus at the University of Washington has a Full-time MBA, a Part-time MBA, and a Technology MBA. They are all legitimate MBA degrees and one does not detract from the other. Like us, they also offer an Executive MBA degree, which is yet another version of an MBA.
What most distinguishes them is the audience they are designed for, and this is definitely true for our Bridge MBA and Professional MBA. The Bridge MBA is designed for students lacking work experience. The Professional MBA is designed for students who have significant work experience. We know from past experience that those two groups should not be mixed, because students with work experience have a strong desire to learn from other students with professional experience. They do not like students in the classroom who do not "bring something to the table" for class discussions.
Over the years, we have always been clear about the need for students to have work experience in order to enter our Professional MBA program. Still, we would always have a number of students applying to the program who lacked that experience, and we, of course, would deny them admission to the program. Now, we have a program for those students, and seeing all those applications over the years is one reason we are optimistic about the prospects for this program.
The required co-curricular activities for the Bridge MBA are an important distinguishing feature when comparing the program to the Professional MBA. The Professional MBA relies much more on classes (and credit hours) to achieve outcomes. The Bridge MBA relies much less on credit hours, instead supplementing classroom activity with co-curricular requirements. In fact, we are now reviewing the Professional MBA to determine how it needs to be restructured to remain up-to-date and relevant in the market. For example, it could come back with fewer required credit hours and new co-curricular requirements, borrowing to some extent from the Bridge MBA.
We are excited about the opportunity to offer the Bridge MBA. We think it will prove to be a very good program for a number of students. We look forward to welcoming a strong cohort in Fall, 2013. In the meantime, if you know of anyone who is interested in learning more about the program, have them contact Jeff Millard at email@example.com.