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July 19, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU accepts applications for new MBA

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Flexibility, access, opportunity and a field-based approach to learning to meet the needs of working adults are the goals behind Slippery Rock University's newly approved master's in business administration degree. Classes will begin January 2014.

The region's newest MBA program, offered through SRU's School of Business, was approved earlier this month by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board of governors. Approval came following a study and program approval request presented to the board by Cheryl Norton, SRU president.

SRU's MBA will feature a blended learning approach with courses delivered both face-to-face and online. The program will be taught at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township.

"This is a program that has been promoted by Dean [Kurt] Schimmel since he first arrived on campus, and is now coming to fruition," said David Culp, professor of economics and chair of SRU's School of Business. "We think it will have a very important, and very positive impact, on the region by offering top quality business education to professionals in the region looking to expand their education and career opportunities."

Schimmel is SRU's dean of the College of Business, Information and Social Sciences.

The new SRU MBA program is designed to meet the needs of the commonwealth's high priority occupations in the areas of financial services, logistics and management. The 36- to 39-credit hour program will consist of three tracks: general, accounting/finance and management/marketing, Schimmel said.

"The program provides an excellent opportunity to provide for our students and business professionals in the Cranberry area. We look forward to fulfilling this need and for the opportunity to provide a 'fifth-year' option to our undergraduate business students," he said immediately following the PASSHE board's approval of the program.

Applications are currently being accepted.

The program will allow undergraduate School of Business majors to link to the program, thus earning their undergraduate and graduate degree in five years, Culp said.

The program will use an eight-week, mini-semester format. "This will mean that a cohort will move through the program as a unit, but should a student be forced to drop out for a session due to work or family obligations, they can quickly relink in the next session rather than having to wait a full year to rejoin," Culp said.

"The program will provide flexibility and accelerated delivery formats designed to meet the needs of working adults who wish to maintain or advance in their careers," he said.

"This is an interdisciplinary program involving eight to 10 SRU faculty from the School of Business along with faculty from the University's computer science and communication departments," Culp said. "This will prove to be important to the students as they see the connection and the interdependence among these important academic disciplines."

Faculty with terminal degrees in their field will teach the classes.

"We have set the program so those enrolled can continue to work at the same time they are undertaking classwork." Culp said.

As part of the MBA program, students will be required to partner with an individual or team with a business employer in the Pittsburgh region to learn how to deal with problems and challenges they will actually see in the real world. Students will be required to see the problem solved, Culp said. "Using this method, students will already have completed some work by the time they receive their master's degree."

The program will utilize an approach known as a "flipped classroom," where lectures and notes will be provided online prior to class meetings thus, allowing for class time to focus on the practical implementation and application of the material. The degree can be completed either as a full-time student in 15 months or in two years for part time students.

Culp said among the factors behind creation of the program was the new requirements for certified public accountants that now must have 150 credit hours of study. "This program allows students to get their undergraduate degree in accounting, then pick up their MBA and the extra required hours count toward their CPA exam. Those in the SRU accounting major will be able to go seamlessly from their undergraduate degree to their MBA to their CPA."

"We found in the older style MBA programs, the focus was on people who had worked for a few years and needed to return to school for further education. Our program allows the recent college graduate, or the veteran employee, to go right on to master's level education making them more marketable to potential employers," Culp said.

In proposing the MBA to the board of governor's, Norton said, the degree would support the needs of the financial services, manufacturing and business communities in the western Pennsylvania region. She said the program would "serve not only the high growth corridor of Cranberry, but the southwest region of the state. Cranberry Township is less than 30 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and currently host's four industrial parks employing more than 20,000 workers. Companies such as Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Westinghouse, GMAC, Verizon, Mine Safety Appliances and Conair are all located within the township. Because of its convenient location at the intersection of I-76 and I-79 and routes 19 and 228, this area continues to attract business and has become the fastest growing suburb of the Pittsburgh metropolitan region."

She said SRU's MBA in part is program realignment and focus on providing educational access and opportunity to non-traditional students in order to enhance and expand their career opportunities.

"Currently, regional placement for MBA's is at 96 percent within three months of graduation indicating a robust demand for the degree. In addition, a 9.4 percent increase in the demand for accountants and auditors is anticipated in the commonwealth by 2020. The job site, Simply Hired, indicates that in the last 30 days there were more than 356 jobs in the Pittsburgh area listing an MBA as required with an additional 2,200 job opportunities identifying an MBA as a preferred qualifier for work," Norton said. "The interest and support for the program has been voiced by Armstrong, Mine Safety Appliances, Westinghouse, the Cranberry Chamber of Commerce, PLS Logistics Services, Michael Baker Corp., UPMC International and Commercial Services. These companies and organizations can be sites for field-based learning for the program," Norton told the governors.

The new plan includes an agreement with Edinboro University to allow their business graduates who have earned a 3.0 grade point average in their undergraduate degree to be guaranteed admission into SRU's MBA program. It also expands SRU's collaboration with Butler County Community College at their Cranberry site to develop a pathway for BC3 students to begin their associate business degree at the community college and culminate in a Slippery Rock University MBA.

Additional information and application details are available from SRU's Office of Graduate Admissions, 724.738.2093.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.