Friday, December 4, 2009

MBA program gains momentum

ISU, CSI joining forces to develop higher education

Express Staff Writer

Gary A. Olson, Idaho State University provost, left, and Jeff Fox, College of Southern Idaho chief academic officer, sign a memorandum of agreement at the Community Campus in Hailey on Wednesday. The two schools formalized their intent to bring advanced degree programs to the Wood River Valley, with the possibility of an executive masterís in business administration program beginning next fall. Photo by

The Wood River Valley could play host to an executive master's in business administration program as early as next fall.

The program is a collaborative effort by Idaho State University, the College of Southern Idaho, and local government, business and non-profit leaders. Representatives from the two schools, along with state Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, and members of the economic development initiative Sustain Blaine, among others, spent most of Wednesday discussing the program's potential and how to make it a reality.

Taking a step in that direction, ISU Provost Gary Olson and CSI Chief Academic Officer Jeff Fox took the meeting as an opportunity to sign a "memorandum of agreement" to work together in making a number of higher education programs available in the valley.

First and foremost among these is the EMBA program, which would be designed for students who are already employees in management positions, or those in line to move into management, seeking to learn overall business, strategic planning and company management skills.

As opposed to a traditional MBA program, which usually takes two years with a regular daily class schedule, the executive program is more flexible to accommodate working students.

While a final schedule is far from finalized, Ken Smith, dean of the ISU College of Business, said that it would likely be a yearlong program with students doing a significant portion of the curriculum online and meeting once a week, possibly at the Community Campus in Hailey.


At the final meeting of the day, a public presentation at the Sun Valley Inn's Continental Room, Smith said the program is anticipated to have about 20 to 25 students, and would cost between $18,500 and $25,000 per student. The program would not be funded by the schools, but rather through tuition and private donations.

Smith said the critical next step is to identify potential students and gauge local interest in the program to determine if it will be viable.

Smith said prospective students do not need to take the GMAT, the standardized test usually required for traditional MBA programs, but that students should have an undergraduate degree in business or practical work experience with a basic understanding of finance, accounting and marketing. In lieu of these, Smith said, students could take an online course to earn a graduate certificate in business to establish a foundation in those areas before enrolling in the EMBA program.

"Our goal is to help the Wood River Valley increase its higher education opportunities," Smith told the 30 or so people gathered at the Inn for the presentation.

Jaquet said the program could help the economic development of the valley by allowing current residents and employees to gain advanced degrees without having to travel outside of the area.

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