Dr. Christie R. Hough, MBA Director Southern Arkansas University

Dr. Christie R. Hough, MBA Director of Southern Arkansas University, joins us today to discuss the Online MBA. Southern Arkansas University is a public four-year institution located in Magnolia, Arkansas, in Columbia County, Arkansas, situated less than 20 miles north of the Louisiana state line. Southern Arkansas University is an affordable, modern university in a family-like setting at the heart of southern Arkansas.

1. Can you tell us about the Online MBA program(s) offered at Southern Arkansas University?

The M.B.A. is offered by the College of Business at SAU and is fully accredited by AACSB, International, the premier accrediting body for colleges and schools of business. Fewer than 5% of all business programs worldwide are accredited by AACSB, which indicates the quality of our program.

SAU’s Master’s of Business program was recently ranked third among the nation’s most affordable online business degrees by OnlineU.org, and is the only one in the top three that is AACSB Accredited.

The M.B.A. curriculum is designed primarily for graduates of a Bachelor of Business Administration program, but graduates of other programs can enter the program by completing a 24-hour prerequisite program.The M.B.A. program consists of 24 hours of M.B.A. core courses and 6 hours of electives. A student can choose to complete courses in a traditional night program, through online delivery, or through a combination of the two. Qualified students may enter the program any semester during the 2-year rotation.   Online classes are taught by the same professors who teach in the classroom.  Classes are small and students and professors interact regularly.

The general business emphasis curriculum includes graduate level courses in accounting, economics, finance, marketing, organizational theory, quantitative analysis, strategic management, and management information systems. Additionally, critical perspectives will be emphasized within the program.  These include ethical, global, political, social, legal and regulatory, and environmental issues; technology; demographic diversity; and written and oral communication skills.

The MBA is also available with two areas of emphasis.  The agriculture business emphasis is a 33-hour program which requires 24 hours of graduate core courses and nine hours of agricultural business electives. The Supply Chain Management emphasis is a 33-hour program which requires 24 hours of graduate core courses and nine hours of supply chain management electives. A student can complete either program in a traditional night program, through online delivery, or through a combination of the two.

Students must take the MFAT exam prior to completing the M.B.A. program at SAU.

2. Can you clarify the GMAT & GRE requirement? Do international students have the same requirement?

Because we are AACSB accredited, all students must take an entrance exam.  Most students take the GMAT but the GRE is also acceptable.  Your score plus your gpa x 200 should equal 900 for conditional admission or 1000 for unconditional admission. International students have the same GMAT requirement.  We actually have an international office that helps international students work through the requirements for admission. Click here for a list of Non-GMAT MBA programs.

3. How long does a typical Online MBA program take at Southern Arkansas University? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?

The typical time for a student to complete our online MBA is two years taking two classes each semester including one summer.  We’ve had students finish in just over a year and others take almost six.  The maximum time allowed for completion is six years.

If a student needs any prerequisite courses, these can be taken concurrently but will add to the time to completion.

4. What do you think makes Southern Arkansas University’s Online MBA stand out from other Online MBA programs offered by similar schools?

SAU offers quality faculty, staff and classes, as attested to by our AACSB accreditation.  We offer small classes with friendly and caring professors and staff.  Current students recommend the program to many, leading others to attend the program.  And we have recently been named the most affordable, accredited online MBA program by onlineu.org!

5. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing an Online MBA program?

Any student wanting to further their education should examine the accreditation of the programs they consider.  Some universities are considered diploma mills by many employers.  Only 5% of business schools in the world are granted AACSB accreditation.  This accreditation is recognized by most employers and highly prized by quality institutions.  Accreditation is an ongoing process and high quality curriculum and professors must be continually maintained.

6. What are the advantages to earning an Online MBA degree in general and where are you seeing employer demand for this degree?

An MBA prepares individuals to meet career challenges and take advantages of opportunities.  Those who are at the middle management level often need additional knowledge and skills to rise above the crowd and move up to upper management.  Individuals who train in fields other than business, such as engineering and technology, often use an MBA to gain understanding of the intricacies of management people and other resources. For those beginning their careers, an MBA provides a competitive advantage in the job market by increasing the students’ confidence and knowledge base.

Employer demand for MBA’s seems to be most prevalent at the middle management level. As well, we have seen local and regional demand for Supply Chain Management professionals, which led us to begin the new emphasis in SCM.

7. Does Southern Arkansas University offer job placement for students who graduate with an Online MBA?

A large majority of our students are employed currently.  At this time, there has been little demand for this service.

8. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in business? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?

All graduate students who need financial assistance to attend Southern Arkansas University should contact the University’s Office of Financial Aid between January 1 and June 1 of each year. Eligibility for a federal aid program is determined through the filing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid need analysis. It takes approximately six weeks for the application to be processed.

Office of Financial Aid P.O. Box 9344 Magnolia, AR 71754-9344 Phone: (870) 235-4023 Fax: (870) 235-4913

9. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in an Online MBA program for the first time?

Go to class!  For an online student that means logging on to the course every day, or as often as possible.  In this environment much more than in a traditional classroom environment, learning depends on you and your attitude.

Connect with the professors and other students as often and in as many ways as possible. Discussion boards, chat rooms, journals, etc. are not just assignments.  They are designed to provide you with the interaction and corporate learning that characterizes all good MBA programs.

10. What do you enjoy most about your position at Southern Arkansas University?

I love working with students!  I enjoy the great, friendly atmosphere in the College of Business!  We have an open door policy with students and other faculty.  We all work together to help students and other faculty succeed.  In this position, I am able to work closely with students as they work on, what for some has been, a very long-standing goal and see the joy and pride as they complete the process

For more information on the Online MBA programs offered at Southern Arkansas University, visit them online.

Thank you Dr. Christie Hough, for sharing and participating in this piece.

That concludes our interview!