Augustana to offer Master of Business Administration fall 2020

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) program will soon be offered at Augustana, beginning in the fall of 2020.

The program was approved at the Nov. 6 faculty meeting and passed with an 81-23 vote.

The program was proposed by the business department after they conducted a feasibility study and survey of current business students and alumni as part of their strategic planning process, starting in 2016. Jaciel Keltgen, assistant professor of business administration, was one of the department members that led the proposal.

“We realized there was a need, and that we could develop a product,” Keltgen said. “It would be distinctive and different, more rigorous and relevant than the competitors’ [programs] currently in the marketplace.”

The program will consist of 39 credits and include two tracts. The first is a 4 + 1  program where students will take graduate-level courses during their fourth year at Augustana and complete the program during their fifth.

Business administration professor Marcia Entwistle said she believes that the 4 + 1 program will be beneficial for students looking to save time and money.

“Coming into their fourth year, many students are ready for [graduate courses],” Entwistle said. “It will be a very economical way to earn that master’s degree because after five years, they’ll have two degrees.”

The second tract is a traditional two-year program for community members who have already graduated with a bachelor’s degree. This tract will not be implemented until the summer of 2021.

Senior biology and business administration major Derek Hamre said the two-year program will be just as advantageous to students as the 4 + 1.

“You can do the two-year program, and it will still be just as beneficial, if not arguably more beneficial, because you would have work experience beforehand,” Hamre said.

The signature element of the MBA program is the leadership academy, which will pair students with mentors in the business community. The academy’s goal is to provide a link between academic theories and on-the-job realities, according to the business department. Students and their mentors will also collaborate on a culminating consulting project that will benefit both the students and local Sioux Falls businesses.

Hamre said these connections are the biggest advantage of the program.

“Augustana already has [networking] opportunities established. That alone will be very beneficial because we’ll be able to set up really good mentorship and fellowship programs for MBA students,” Hamre said. “We’ll also be able to provide something that USF and USD, in my opinion, aren’t providing.”

Although the proposal encountered 23 votes of opposition, Keltgen believes the resistance may come from a place of fear.

“I can only surmise that people might be fearful that we would lose the excellence that we offer in our undergraduate program,” Keltgen said. “There’s also risk anytime you launch a new product, and there are dollars attached to this new program.”

As for new faculty, the department hopes to hire four additional faculty members within the next four years. They also plan to hire a program director as soon as possible.

The department anticipates enrolling 12 students in the initial launch of the program next fall, although Keltgen hopes to recruit 18. Entwistle encourages students interested in the program to consider their academic plans.

“Graduate courses require more work, so students need to be a little bit careful as they plan their pathway through,” Entwistle said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to help students so that they’re prepared. But for graduate courses, we will expect more work.”

Although the program is at the graduate level, both Keltgen and Entwistle stress that the MBA program is not just for business administration majors.

“It’s for anyone who wants to get into the MBA program. It’s supposed to support the liberal arts,” Keltgen said.

The business department estimates tuition to be about $567 per credit hour based on a budget of 12 students in the first 4 + 1 program in fall 2020 and 15 two-year students in the summer of 2021. They estimate the program to be profitable by its third year.

Both Keltgen and Entwistle are excited about the potential new students that the program will bring in.

“We’re very excited. We’re excited for our current students and for potential new students that will get to know Augie through this new program,” Entwistle said.

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