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By Alice Lesch Kelly
You’ve reached the point in your career where an MBA degree could help you qualify for better job opportunities and a higher salary. You’re ready to do the work necessary to enhance your skills, expand your business knowledge, and sharpen your competitive edge.
Your next step is to choose an MBA program. As you explore your options, consider these 10 reasons why the iMBA, a fully online program from the world-renowned University of Illinois Gies College of Business, might be right for you.
A degree from the Illinois iMBA program commands worldwide respect and grabs the attention of hiring managers. “We have outstanding departments with a long history of excellence,” says W. Brooke Elliott, Ph.D., associate dean of online programs at the Gies College of Business.
In fact, Gies is regularly ranked as a top U.S. business school by U.S. News & World Report and Poets & Quants.
2. Competitive cost
Tuition for the Illinois iMBA program is just a fraction of the cost of leading residential MBA programs, which can run as much as $200,000 or more.
“When we entered the MBA space with our online program in 2016, we set tuition at $22,000 for the full degree, which really disrupted the market,” Elliott says. “But we are a mission-driven college, and this is a mission-driven program that is fully committed to providing accessible and affordable high-quality education to all those who desire it and are committed to pursuing it.”
3. Career-focused content
Material in the iMBA program is designed to be immediately applicable to students’ careers. “We focus on theory and basic business competencies, of course, but we are also very skills- and application-focused,” Elliott says. “You can learn something in a course in one week, and the next week have something to take back and apply to your daily work life.”
Surveys of current iMBA students show this has been the case for many: 95% say they have applied what was learned in class to their work.
For many working professionals, attending an in-person MBA program is simply not realistic. The Gies iMBA allows students the flexibility to put in the work from anywhere.
Hayden Noel, Ph.D., who teaches marketing management in the iMBA program, recalls one of his students, an army lieutenant, attending a live session while flying in an airplane over Afghanistan. “The level of commitment and the quality of our students is phenomenal,” he says.
Students attend two of these live sessions each week per class. Each session is delivered multiple times a day to accommodate students in different time zones. The two- to three-year program is structured in eight-week terms, with students typically taking one or two classes at a time.
5. Networking opportunities
In each course, weekly live sessions, breakout sessions, and group projects give students a chance to get to know each other.
Though not required, there are also opportunities to meet classmates in person. These include optional local meet-ups; Micro-Immersion events, several-day long meet-ups in cities across the U.S. connected to coursework; and Illinois iConverge, a multi-day networking and professional development event held each September on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Students may also participate in weeklong global immersion trips to places like Brazil and Germany.
6. Quality education
The iMBA coursework is designed to be as rigorous as in-person classes, and it is not a self-paced degree. Before launching the program in 2016, a team of eLearning specialists, professors, and administrators built a custom curriculum from the ground up specifically for online learners. Their goal was to create a top-quality online program, rather than to simply put a residential degree online.
Surveys find that 98% of students in the iMBA program say they are satisfied with the overall program quality, and 94% would highly recommend the iMBA program to others.
7. Competitive admissions
The iMBA admissions process is rigorous and relies heavily on career experience. Students in the program are seasoned professionals with an average of 11.6 years of work experience. (Those at the beginning of their career can consider the Gies online MS in management iMSM program.)
In addition, admissions team members interview every student who applies to the program and use an array of qualitative measures to determine whether a student is likely to excel. As a result of this careful admissions process, the iMBA retention rate is 95%.
8. Student diversity
The iMBA student body reflects diversity of all kinds. The average age of iMBA students is 37, 32% are female, and 32% of students come from minority groups. What’s more, international students make up 20% of the program. Learning in this kind of global classroom offers crucial business advantages as cross-culture collaboration becomes increasingly common in most industries.
9. Career diversity
Although some students have traditional business backgrounds and job titles—for example, 700 current students work at Fortune 500 companies—many come from a range of other career tracks. The program includes entrepreneurs, doctors, artists, designers, historians, political scientists, military officers, and farmers.
Perhaps most importantly, the Gies iMBA program shows career results. During the program, more than half of students say they have received a promotion or job offer, and the average reported pay increase is 20%.
Sponsored by Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois
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