In our last e-news, I gave a brief synopsis of our school and then highlighted the people who make the UAB School of Business so special. In this issue, I’d like to focus on our innovative, top-quality programs. Simply stated, our programs are the vehicles by which we engage our stakeholders and satisfy our customers. At the UAB School of Business, we educate students through two sets of programs: undergraduate (e.g. BS degrees in seven business disciplines including Accounting, Finance, Management, Information Systems, Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics) and graduate (MBA and Master of Accounting). Our program offerings have remained strong and consistent for several years, but the needs of business are continually evolving, and the UAB School of Business understands the vital need to continually evaluate our offerings to ensure that the programs we deliver are meeting the needs of our students and the business community. That’s why we’re making three significant sets of changes that we believe will enhance our ability to meet the changing needs of our stakeholders and customers.
First, we are challenging all of our programs to focus on retaining students through graduation and growing our student body. Here, with current school-wide enrollments of approximately 1,800 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students, we are targeting a 50 percent enrollment increase by 2020. Perhaps the best evidence of progress towards this targeted growth is with our accounting program. We now offer both the BS and Master in Accounting completely online, in addition to our day and evening options. This accredited online degree option started last year, and we currently have about 110 students enrolled from across the country. We anticipate that such trends in online enrollments could help us double the size of our Accounting program within five years. We are taking similar approaches to grow other programs with online degree options in Management, Information Systems and Marketing.
Second, we are streamlining our MBA program to both improve quality and provide a more predictable path to completion. Students traditionally have come to our MBA program with a variety of educational backgrounds and work experiences, creating a highly desired diverse classroom experience. However, such diversity has meant that some students with little previous business education took as many as 51 hours to complete the program while others with an undergraduate business degree might take only 36 hours. In order to provide a consistent learning experience for all students and a more predictable path to completion, we have streamlined the curriculum to have all students take 36 hours that can be completed in two years part-time. This streamlined curriculum included four fundamental courses, five core courses , six hours of electives and a capstone. We believe that this streamlined program will be perfectly poised for enrollment growth. Dr. Ken Miller has been named the new MBA director and has outlined an impressive plan to aggressively market this program. In addition to the MBA, we are also implementing specialized graduate degrees (e.g. MS in Information Systems) in which students can meet the requirements for three certificates along the path towards a 30-hour advanced degree. Such programs are designed to meet the pressing technical needs of working professionals by using a modular approach offering relevant certificates.
The third area of change focuses on interdisciplinary programs that will enhance the stature of our business school at UAB. Here, we are seeking approval from the Board of Trustees for an institute with a mission to provide, foster and promote a strong, innovative & entrepreneurial ecosystem through education and experiential learning. This institute will facilitate the successful practice of entrepreneurship at UAB, in the region, the state and beyond. The full vision is to create an internationally recognized university institute that inspires, discovers, innovates and creates successful entrepreneurial ventures and valuable commercial products. If approved by the Board of Trustees, this institute will significantly impact students through educational programs and UAB researchers through enhanced company start-up services. Another example of interdisciplinary collaborations is in the area of leadership training that is currently provided to UAB’s emerging healthcare leaders through our Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA). We are working on plans to expand the scope, reach and capabilities of the HLA in order to meet the growing needs for such training at UAB, as well as offering this training to others across the country.
In summary, our UAB School of Business is aggressively moving forward with several initiatives to ensure that our accredited programs are interdisciplinary, dynamic and competitive to meet the needs of our stakeholders and customers. I welcome your feedback on any of these initiatives.