The value of an MBA is clear. In addition to preparing students for leadership roles in their organizations and opening new career opportunities, a 2022 study found MBA graduates earn higher salaries on average.
However, many working professionals are unable to commit the time and resources necessary to complete an in-person MBA program. Beginning this year, the Terry College of Business is responding to strong demand for MBA programs by meeting prospective students where they are — online.
The UGA Online MBA, a part-time program modeled after the Terry College’s Professional MBA and operated from its Atlanta campus, welcomes its first cohort of students this fall.
“The Online MBA represents an important step forward for the Terry College,” said Dean Ben Ayers. “Now students can experience our rigorous and dynamic business education from anywhere while maintaining the flexibility to balance their personal and professional lives.”
The program’s inaugural cohort of more than 50 students includes professionals hailing from multiple states and representing a variety of industries.
“There’s a huge population of UGA alums or people connected to the university who want to get a Terry MBA, but they can’t attend classes in Athens or Atlanta,” said Susan Brown, director of Terry’s Executive MBA, Professional MBA and Online MBA programs. “This opens that up for them. We’ve got students from Maine, Washington, and others from Atlanta who wouldn’t have been able to do an in-person program because of their jobs.”
The format allows professionals to earn a graduate degree while continuing to work full-time. It also allows Terry to cast a wide recruiting net, attracting high-caliber students who might otherwise opt for a program in another state.
“Online education in general is growing for master’s programs, and MBA hiring is growing,” said Brown, who cites an expected 14% increase in Georgia for MBA-related employment opportunities over the next eight years. “We saw an opportunity to expand and recruit students we would never have attracted before.”
Initial demand exceeded expectations, said Brown, allowing her team to be highly intentional during the admissions period.
“We had an amazing pool of candidates,” she said, “but it was important to us that we selected students who feel connected to UGA in some way. We have one student whose husband is an alum, and she wanted a Georgia MBA, but they moved to Chicago. We have students who are from UGA alumni families. We have a student who plans to move to Atlanta for work down the road and knows a Terry diploma is valuable for their network.”
Likewise, designing the program’s format was a deliberate process, Brown said. While it follows the same module-based approach as the Professional MBA, the curriculum is self-paced, allowing students to access course content when and where they prefer.
Students can complete the program in as few as 17 or as many as 23 months. “We’re really proud of our faculty and our curriculum,” said Brown.
Importantly, Online MBA students have access to the same resources as those enrolled in the Professional MBA, including access to Terry instructors, an option to complete domestic and international residencies and a series of networking events, among other opportunities.
And the program clearly fills a niche, said Brown, noting admissions numbers for the Executive MBA and Professional MBA remain very strong. She expects the Online MBA will continue to evolve to meet its students’ unique needs but will achieve the same outstanding outcomes as the college’s other MBA programs. “We’re excited for this next chapter for our new MBA students and the Terry College,” said Brown.