The MBA Online program at the David Eccles School of Business allows students to earn the rigorous degree at their own pace and on their own schedule.

The Eccles School’s MBA Online program ranks in the top 50 in the nation, and it allows students to interact, learn and jump from middle management to the C-Suite.

Listen to the podcast below to hear from current student Cassia Connors and Jack Brittain, the Pierre Lassonde Presidential Chair and a professor of management for the MBA Online program discuss the benefits of the program.

Eccles School: Welcome to the Eccles School Podcast, I’m your host Sheena McFarland. Earning an MBA is a great way to take the next step in your career and go from the manager to the C suite. But it can be a challenge to balance class times with a full-time work schedule, but the David Eccles School of Business’ MBA Online Program gives students the flexibility to work from their own locations and on their own time frames without losing the academic rigor of the degree. Joining me today are Jack Brittain, the Pierre Lassonde Presidential Chair and professor of management, and Cassia Connors, current MBA Online student. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Cassia Connors: Thank you Sheena.

Jack Brittain: Thank you for having us. It’s great.

Eccles School: First Jack, let’s talk about the program’s faculty. Are students able to work with the same high quality faculty they would find here on campus?

Jack Brittain: Oh absolutely. Myself for instance, I teach all of the on-campus leadership courses and I also teach online programs. So most of my colleagues in the online program are also teaching in our professional MBA or our executive MBA and our day MBA program and everybody has lots of teaching experience. You are not allowed to be in the program if you’re not going to deliver really quality product. And I’ve just seen a level of dedication on the part I’m working with people, that they’re really engage with the program and they actually enjoy it a lot. That’s probably the surprise, is how fun it’s been to teach in this program.

Eccles School: Well that’s great. Let’s talk a little bit about the effectiveness. Teachers can be sometime hesitant to teach online, but what surprised you most about online teaching and learning?

Jack Brittain: I think one of the things that really surprised me is how personal and interactive it is which is absolutely the opposite of what you’d expect. You think we are in a classroom, that must be highly interactive, but the reality is in the classroom, people know who they sit next to. The faculty come in and give lectures and a couple three students can stop by after class and maybe chat. People could come to office hours, they typically don’t. And so in a typical classroom, there is actually a very low level of interactivity. And in the online program, absolutely the opposite of what I would expect. It is highly interactive. It is highly personal; all of my interactions with students tend to be one-on-one. We do a weekly video broadcast; it’s multiple students talking at the same time, I’m facilitating the discussion. But it’s surprisingly interactive and personal program.

Connors: Sheena I really agree with Dr. Brittain on that. I’ve seen as a student that I feel more eager to speak up, and especially on discussion board forums, you feel like you have a voice and everyone can take a turn having a voice. So you’re not put out there in front of an audience to speak. And so it’s really interesting how interactive it’s been.

Jack Brittain: It’s one of the things that I’ve noticed and my TA’s have commented on it as well, is the quality of the discussions online are much better than the in classroom discussions. So in classroom, you have a few people speak, you definitely have some introverts that don’t speak at all. And on the online discussion board, everybody is invited to speak, they pretty much have to, but they are really invited as well. And it’s much easier for people without the social pressure of the classroom, to feel comfortable sharing their ideas. And the sharing is quite personal, people sharing their own work experience, talking about kind of how they see the material. And it’s really one of the for sure distinction of the program, is the quality discussion is much better, the introverts show up, but there is also a quality of participation that really improves the quality of the learning that’s taking place.

Connors: Absolutely, I agree.

Eccles School: That sounds like a fabulous learning environment for students. We talked about interactivity and that personal feel to it, Jack what has been your favorite part of teaching for the MBA online program?

Jack Brittain: Again, it’s surprising. It was the first time I had taught online when we started the program a couple of years ago. So I’m now heading into my third time in it. But when you think of online, you kind of think of oh I’m going to be making videos and what else is it going to be, but the reality of it once I’ve done it, and I was filmed in the classroom and then we edited and we did a bunch of supplementary videos, but the reality of the classroom delivery is extremely student centered. You’re spending all your time interacting with students. And I think for most faculty, that’s what they enjoy most about teaching, is the one on one experience, the opportunity to see people. And we learn a lot from people’s experiences, seeing them post them online. I really like the weekly video conferences, because it’s very much give-and-take and we talk about people’s experience. We kind of review the important lessons for the week. It’s one hour. We videotape it so that people can’t attend watch it and have part of the experience. But the program is very student centric and for the faculty, that’s really what makes it a lot of fun. And I think the quality of learning is very, very high in the program because of that level of customization that you’re not going to get in an on-campus program.

Eccles School: That’s great. And so Cassia for you, when you enrolled in the Eccles School MBA online program, it had only been in existence for one semester. Why did you choose this program versus other schools?

Connors: Sheena, I really liked the University of Utah people. I’ll say the staff here is second to none. I mean they were wonderful, putting my mind at ease about taking an online program. And I knew I had to have an online format because I travel every week for work. And so, in discussing my situation with them and then going through the application process, they were just fabulous to work with and I knew it was where I wanted to be. And thankfully because I’m local as well, I can enjoy coming to campus and getting attention that I need if I need it, and I know that I’m getting the same education here online as I would be if I were sitting in a classroom.

Eccles School: That’s great. Overall, what has your online learning been like and how the faculty met your expectations and been accessible to you?

Connors: That’s a great question. And I want to piggyback off of what Dr. Brittain said, it’s so true that I feel like I have more interaction online that I would in person. And you take away the worry and the concern of looking silly in front of other people whenever you ask a question. And everyone is there and they are sharing in the experience with you. I feel like I’ve gotten the best education out there because I get so much attention and any questions I have are answered so quickly from the instructors. It’s fabulous.

Eccles School: Wonderful. And it sounds like you’ve enjoyed a whole lot about the MBA online program, has there been one aspect of it that’s really stood out to you as the thing you’ve enjoyed the most?

Connors: Aside from the people and the experience, I’ll say the career advancement program is outstanding and it may be the biggest part that advances my future out of the whole program. And I was surprised to find out about once I enrolled sadly, I had no idea the benefit that was going to come to me. And so it’s an outstanding program; you have a career coach who helps you daily and helps sell yourself in the real world. And so you can take all of the learning and the classroom activities and apply them, but then you have this coach that’s actually there in your life, in your career to help advance you as well.

Eccles School: Great. This is like a wonderful benefit. Why would you recommend this program to other professionals who are looking for an MBA program?

Connors: I would say the rigor of the degree. I’ve learned so much just from lectures and classroom activities, but also the discussions and the interactions. I’ve loved it and I’ve loved the people and I’ve loved the whole experience of it. I would recommend it to anyone.

Eccles School: Great. And Jack would you recommend an online program here for the U’s MBA in comparison to other schools or here even on campus?

Jack Brittain: Well absolutely, and kind of interestingly does serve people, we have students all over the world, but it also does serve people locally who have complicated travel schedules. We’ve had two people in the program who are professional pilots, so they spend a lot of time sitting on the ground in New York City or some other place and so they can still get their education. So I’ve talked to myself, many people who I know in the community who are saying oh I really want to get an MBA, but I just can’t, I’ve got too long of a commute, I’ve got all these things. And the David Eccles School online program is truly asynchronous. You do it when it works for you. And so you can make the program work, whatever strains, circumstances you have, and people have all kinds of family obligations or things that they are juggling. So it’s really a great program. And then you are also participating with the faculty that’s clearly one of the very best in the world. We are consistently ranked in the top 50 and sometimes even higher. In the US, there are about 4000 business schools, I mean you start talking about the top 50. This is an amazing faculty, amazingly dedicated group of teachers. And so I think there is an awful lot to offer somebody where this format really works for them. It really works for people also who are already full-time employed in responsible positions. Because there’s so much discussion and interaction around that, and we want the students to actually be part of the learning community for every other student in the program. And so it really, really works well for people who are already full-time employed. Did you find you learned a lot from your fellow students?

Connors: I did. I was going to piggyback on that as well because in the discussions or in the group work, we have to discuss what we’re doing in our careers and in our jobs. It’s a requirement. And it’s amazing the things that you here, the things that you never thought of or the things you felt so lonely in but realize everyone is going to the same thing and it’s been great. Yeah. And you know what, another thing you mentioned was the fact that you can be local and still travel and be so flexible. And I’ve been able to take advantage of some of the weekend learning courses, the women in business here. It’s a fantastic series where they will do brunch. And then you also have the entrepreneur program here with the Lassonde Institute which is amazing where you get to take advantage of all of the on-campus things on the weekends as well when you are available. It’s been great.

Eccles School: That sounds like a wonderful learning opportunity for students both here in Utah and around the globe. So that’s great. Well I just want to thank both of you so much for being here today and for joining me for this discussion. I’m Sheena McFarland, and this has been the Eccles School Podcast.

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