Remaking Loyola's MBA Education
The critiques of traditional MBA education come weekly, with virtually every business publication questioning the lack of marketable skills of recent graduates. The Financial Times in a recent article summarized: “The MBA as most commonly taught today is outdated, and does not provide its students with the skills and mindset that is required to succeed in business today, let alone tomorrow.” The challenges are undeniable, as many corporations have discontinued tuition reimbursement programs and many graduates are either unemployed or grossly underemployed.
Loyola began a methodical reinvention of the MBA Program three years ago, and those changes are reaping huge dividends. The complement of changes will roll out this fall semester with implementation of the fully updated curriculum. The major components of these changes follow.
1. Integrated Horizontal Curriculum
Traditional MBA classes were taught by functional experts in their field of study, and those professors seldom, if ever, collaborate with other professors. Today, Loyola MBA faculty members work closely together to ensure that coursework links across several classes. Instead of teaching marketing management as an independent course, it is now taught with the perspective of looking at how an organization’s focus on customers touches all aspects of the organization, including strategy, human resources, operations, customer service, product design, and so forth.
2. External Certifications
As the value of the MBA decreases, the value of certifications by professional organizations is increasing, because professional certifications are based on objective uncompromised international standards. Our MBA students are now able to get certifications in quality from the American Society for Quality and the Project Management Institute. In addition, our students are trained in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria, and in addition to assessing and scoring organizations on the criteria, several students have written sections of applications and served as examiners. Baldrige-based knowledge puts graduates in a position to be recruited by some of the highest performing organizations in the country. In addition, our students are competing against students from some of the most prestigious universities in entrepreneurship and case study competitions. The Loyola MBA Program is proud to assess the preparation of our professional graduates against the highest standards.
3. Raising Admissions Standards and Increasing Rigor
The value of MBA degrees has plummeted internationally because of two overriding factors: 1.) easy access to virtually anyone, and, 2.) lowered standards. Today, more than 250,000 students are enrolled in MBA programs, with at least 100,000 degrees conferred each year. As MBA programs open in strip malls and online through virtual programs, the competition for students has become intense, leading to a lowering of standards. A race to the bottom has led many programs to promote the lack of rigor and ease of access. Some degrees can be obtained in 12 months with no written assignments. Loyola has gone against this trend by increasing enrollment standards and ramping up rigor. Our average GMAT score has risen to 563, and only about one-third of the applicants begin the program. A writing tutor has been hired to increase the writing proficiency of students, and virtually every class has an extensive writing assignment. The program uses several professional experts, mixed with our residential faculty members, to teach classes requiring applications experience.
The revisions to the program are showing fruits. Graduates are being gainfully employed in a professional job after completing the program, in sharp contrast to 75% employment rates being posted at some of the most prestigious schools. Loyola graduates are being recruited nationwide. In the last two years, graduates have secured jobs in Seattle, Detroit, Houston, and Charlotte, among other cities, in some of the country’s top companies. These companies are asking for more of our graduates as the reputation develops.
A new day has arisen in the MBA Program. The faculty members of the program have worked very hard to reformat and ramp up the content of the classes. These efforts are paying off in the lives of our students. Alumni should know that the integrity of the Loyola MBA will be protected and enhanced, and we will not yield to the temptation to go the way of most other programs.
View the complete spring 2013 issue of Loyola Executive.