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A Look at UTA’s New Online MBA Program

The University of Texas at Arlington recently made its MBA program available in an online format. This new online MBA program is part of UTA’s College of Business, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). The program is also flexible and accelerated for the convenience of working students. But what else should applicants know about this new online option? Below we take a closer look at the program through the insight of two faculty members.

Foundation Courses

Just thinking about enrolling in an MBA program can be daunting, especially for those who do not have a solid academic background in business. If you’ve never had to take accounting or statistics, you might be concerned about taking graduate-level courses in those areas.

In the UTA online MBA program, students who do not have an undergraduate degree in business will take what are called Foundation Pathway Courses to help prepare them for the rigors of the core curriculum. (Students who score under a 500 on the GMAT may also be required to take foundation courses.)

Dr. David Mack, Associate Dean for Communication and Executive Education in the College of Business, teaches one of these courses — MANA 5312: Management of the Enterprise.

“It’s a basic management class, so it talks about the concepts of management, which are essentially planning, organizing, leading, and then controlling,” he explains.

Management Matters

Mack says that students in this MBA program are typically early in their management careers, just beginning to supervise others. And as workers become managers, their requisite skill sets change; what they were initially trained for isn’t what they’re necessarily doing as managers. Mack uses an example of an engineer who gets promoted.

“Pretty soon, your job consists of maybe 10 percent of what you were trained for, which is engineering, but it’s 90 percent people,” he explains. “We don’t give individuals a whole lot of education in that outside of the business realm. And so for a lot of these folks, this is where they come to get some of that ability. That’s when they come back and get an MBA.”

Mack, who has taught in the on-campus MBA and EMBA (Executive MBA) program for years, brings extensive management experience from the corporate world and in entrepreneurship to this online management course. His background makes him ideal for those who want faculty with real-world experience.

Adjusting for Online

While 100-percent-online coursework is a new option for the UTA MBA program, a few online courses have been a component of the on-campus program for some time. Dr. Roger Meiners, professor of law and economics, is one of the MBA professors who has taught online previously.

Meiners, who teaches BLAW 5330: Legal Environment of Business, learned from his first experience teaching online and has made changes to the format to help students succeed in class and in their careers.

“With the seven-week courses and each week being its own module, you’ve got to get the assignments finished,” he says. “Students have hard deadlines. I think they adjust to that.”

Another adjustment that Meiners made for online is eliminating lectures and focusing more on group work and student presentations.

“It is a major restructuring compared to how I’ve always taught the course, when it’s a standard lecture,” he says. “The online experience, to be successful, does require the courses to be designed differently than if they’re in-class lectures. Nobody wants to sit and watch anybody lecture for an hour.”

Business Law With Dr. Meiners

So how does Meiners structure his business law course? What will students do if they’re not listening to lectures?

Meiners says he plans to have students in his course do a variety of different assignments. Students will read real-world law cases and then work in groups to come up with an appropriate response. In addition to cases, students will also create individual short videos, which replace the in-class presentations common in traditional MBA programs.

“The other work assignments are various; there are team reports that are usually on a series of applied questions,” he says. “We pose the situation: ‘In your business, this is the issue. The text has covered this material. Now apply what you’ve learned about the law to help come up with a recommendation of how to deal with this problem.’ The teams will have a one- or two-page answer on those projects.”

Students will also read The Legal Environment of Business, a textbook Meiners wrote. This teaching tool, for which the course is named, is now in its 13th edition.

Finally, students wrap up the course with a longer individual paper.

“You get wide latitude in the topic you pick. Make it one that’s of interest to you, but show what you’ve learned in the substance of the material that applies to this business situation that we’ve constructed in the class,” Meiners explains.

A Well-Rounded Program

In addition to Mack’s management course and Meiners’ business law course, students will take finance, marketing, operations management, accounting, strategic management, economics, IT, and leadership courses among others.

As a whole, the UTA online MBA program is intended to help make students better leaders, communicators and teammates in the workplace. Both Meiners and Mack stress the importance of their students gaining real-world skills and applicable knowledge through the program.

“An MBA is not an advanced undergraduate degree,” Mack says. “An MBA is a whole different program. Undergrad is to prove that you have the skills to do a specific job. An MBA shows that you’ve got the foresight and ability to now begin to manage people who do all those things that you used to do.”

Learn more about the UTA online MBA program.

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