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Transformational Changes Announced for Working Professional MBAs

Old-fashioned man holding iPad showing an electronic textbookIt's not your father's MBA. Working professionals who enroll in the Texas MBA program will soon experience a more streamlined program with several curriculum innovations, including an entrepreneurship course and an iPad for all textbooks and course materials. 

The Texas MBA for Working Professional Programs, including the evening MBA taught in Austin and weekend MBA programs taught in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, have received a substantial work-over, including revised courses, electronic textbooks, non-traditional learning methods, and a more robust, trimmed-down program length.

"These advancements will improve the student experience significantly," says Eric Hirst, associate dean for graduate programs. "Thanks to modern technologies and teaching approaches, we can now build an MBA experience that responds to both the needs and the capacities of today's MBA students who are coming to the school better prepared for a rigorous, fast-paced program."

Headshot of Eric Hirst, smiling into the camera

The initiative began last year with the establishment of a faculty committee that included representatives from each academic department, plus Dean Hirst and Trent Thurman, director of the Working Professional MBA programs. The committee conducted interviews and focus groups with current students and alumni and reviewed feedback from five years of graduate exit surveys and questionnaires, benchmarked against other top business schools. 

Revamped curriculum and learning innovations

"We invited each academic department to take a fresh look at the curriculum, with the goal of optimizing the order of courses with logical sequencing and minimal overlap," explains Thurman. 

The new curriculum for the working professional MBA shares the core and flex core requirements of the full-time MBA, ensuring a common experience across all programs. "We have long addressed our MBA programs as a single Texas MBA experience, and this strengthens that connection," says Hirst.

Headshot of Trent Thurman, smiling into the cameraThe changes were announced on Nov. 1 to current working professional MBA students in an email from Thurman. He explains that the new program:

  • Remains a 48 credit hour program, but allocates some of the course hours differently. 
  • Reduces the overall program length in Dallas and Houston from 24 months to 22 months, allowing for a May completion and graduation beginning with the class entering Fall 2014.
  • Reduces the overall length in the Austin evening MBA program from 33 months to 28 months by incorporating a number of weekend sessions over the course of the program beginning with the class entering Spring 2015.
  • Establishes a January start date for TEMBA to still allow for a May completion and graduation, beginning with the class entering spring 2015.
  • Adds a one credit hour entrepreneurship and innovation course in response to strong student interest and the school's strategic plan.
  • Includes one additional credit hour of finance.
  • Adds several residencies to the overall program structure to ensure stronger networking and adequate coverage of career management, MBA+, and community-building activities.
  • Incorporates the use of technology with an all-electronic delivery of books and materials.
  • Integrates non-traditional delivery of four hours of classroom content in each class, including online modules and out-of-class exercises.

To smooth the transition to electronic media, all entering students, as well as returning students for Fall 2014, will be provided an iPad during the summer preceding their arrival on campus. Faculty members are receiving an orientation to highlight electronic tools and resources available to enhance the overall classroom and education experience.

Preparing for a new graduate facility

"I'm particularly pleased that these enhancements precede our move to the new Robert B. Rowling Hall, which will welcome our graduate business students in the Fall of 2017," says Hirst. "We'll be moving into an amazingly advanced learning environment with a curriculum and program structure that is equally progressive."

Thurman, MBA '94, explained that while the changes don't immediately affect current students, the value to students and alumni is seen in the continued success of the program and the reputation of the Texas MBA degree. "As an alumnus, I'm thrilled whenever I see another step forward for business education at The University of Texas at Austin."

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