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MBA Virtual Open House

NOAH GRIECO: Welcome, everyone, and thank you for joining Utica College’s online MBA Virtual Open House. My name is Noah Grieco. I am one of the enrollment counselors here at Utica College, and my job is to support the students through the admissions process. Can you go on to the next slide here?

So what you can expect from this open house is an overview of our MBA program, along with firsthand experience from one of our previous alum. There will be questions at the end as well. And if you do have any questions, please feel free to use the question and answer feature at the– should be at the bottom of your screens. Please welcome Program Director Doctor Matthew Marmet, and recent alum Kevin Balduzzi. Dr. Marmet, I’ll hand it off to you.

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: Thanks, Noah. Before I get started I’m going to apologize ahead of time, because I have two screens in front of me. The first one is you all in front of me with my webcam, and the other one is where the slides are. So if you see me kind of doing this type of thing, I’m going back and forth referencing the slide. So appreciate your tolerance with that.

First, let me thank you again for attending our virtual open house this evening. I hope you find this session helpful and informative. My name is Dr. Matthew Marmet, and I’m the Director of MBA Programs, and an Assistant Professor of Management here at Utica College.

Prior to my career in academia, like many of the faculty members who teach in this program, I spent some valuable time in industry, serving in various roles across multiple industries. My educational background is– I don’t want to say weird, I’ll call it distinct. Because I’m a psychology person in a business school.

When people ask me what industrial organizational psychology is, I tell them it’s the psychology of business. I think the importance of human dynamics and behavior cannot be overlooked in the workplace, and I try to stress that in all the classes that I teach. After coming to Utica College, I decided to round out my academic portfolio by earning an MBA of my own.

So one of the most common questions I get, from both students and professionals alike, is why should I get my MBA? And it’s a great question, because there is a lot to consider when making this decision, time, money, et cetera. I think this slide sums up the reasons nicely. But to put it succinctly, I would say that you are increasing your potential. A brief internet search will tell you that MBAs have increased earning potential and higher employment rates than those without the degree, and these benefits will come after you complete the program.

Equally as important though, are the experiences you will gain during your time here at UC. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and network with people whom you might not have come into contact with otherwise. And the skills you will develop in things like leadership, strategic thinking, communication, will prove invaluable to you as you navigate your careers. And one final benefit of an MBA degree is that it makes you well-rounded. This sets you up nicely for careers in a multitude of industries spanning anything from operations to marketing.

So if you’re going to get your MBA, why do it at Utica College? From a reputation standpoint, we have a strong history coupled with formal accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or ACBSP. This is something we take really seriously, and it means that our MBA program is consistently assessed for programmatic rigor and potential improvement.

Additionally, we offer 100% online flexibility. Our state of the art facility in the heart of Utica’s business district allows for students to attend in classes physically if they choose to. For distance learners, classes have a virtual component that enables students to join literally from anywhere, as long as you have internet access. And finally, each hybrid class session is recorded and posted to our Learning Management System so students can watch or rewatch the lecture at their convenience. These attendance options, coupled with classes that are fully online, provide for a learning environment that meets everybody’s needs.

Outside of the classroom, you will receive personalized support from our MBA success coaches, who will be with you on every step of the journey as you move toward degree completion. And we typically don’t like to brag, but in this case, we’re going to go ahead and do so. Because these things, among others, have landed us on Fortune’s Best Online MBA List and University HQ’s Top 100 Hybrid MBA Colleges for 2021, and that’s something that we’re really proud of.

All right, so let’s look at our program from a high level standpoint. This is what our MBA looks like. You will take 16 courses for a total of 30 credits. And with the proper planning, you can complete this degree in less than two years. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement as part of our admissions process here at UC.

And once you are enrolled, you will have the opportunity to specialize in areas like data analytics, entrepreneurship, finance and accounting, and health care management. These specializations involve taking a defined set of electives. But there is also a general path available to you, where students can choose whichever electives they find most beneficial.

And this is what our curriculum looks like. So let’s take a little bit of a deeper dive here. All MBA students are required to take the Business Core, which you see here at the top. It equates to 15 credit hours of study in areas like leadership, data-driven decision making, finance and accounting, and strategy.

In the gray box in the bottom right, you will see information on the specializations that I just mentioned. This will be four courses directly related to your specialization of choice, with the general path again, providing a bit more flexibility for you. Finally, our capstone courses finish out the degree with an applied research project.

Here you will consult with a company of your choosing, and help that organization solve a real world business problem. This capstone project is a great example, in my opinion, of experiential learning, as you will apply the skills you have acquired throughout the program in this final course. I personally teach the capstone, and I always tell my students that the benefits of this course are twofold.

First and most obvious, you earn your MBA once you finish it. You’ve completed the capstone course, you get your degree, that’s why you were here. The other benefit though, is that you have the opportunity to shed a very positive light on yourself within the company that you’re working for. As I said, you are helping that company solve a real problem. So if you do this well, there is the potential for things like pay raises and promotions, and we’ve seen this happen.

And just so you don’t think that I’m making this stuff up, I’d now like to turn it over to Kevin Balduzzi, who is an alum of our MBA program, and just a really great guy. So Kevin is going to talk a little bit about his experience at UC, and some of the benefits that I just mentioned. So Kevin, I’ll let you take it away.

KEVIN BALDUZZI: Great, thank you very much, Matt. I would basically echo exactly what you’ve said. So what I want to go through right now. So my name is Kevin Balduzzi. I’m a 2016 graduate of the MBA program, and I currently work for New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Environmental Permits, which is a mouthful to get out.

Matt asked me to talk about my experience in the capstone course, and it was a course that I really enjoyed. And it kind of brought everything together that I learned over the course of two years. So unfortunately, Matt wasn’t teaching the capstone, but I still managed to get through it.

When I started the capstone class, the professor asked us to work with our employer to create a project that would benefit the organization. So a significant amount of the work in my office involves reviewing and processing permit applications for projects which impact regulated natural resources, such as streams and wetlands. So I met with the head of our Regional Permits office, and we thought a project which focused on these permit applications would provide the greatest benefit to everybody.

I came up with a proposal where I would evaluate the typical steps that a permit application goes through, from the time it comes in the door to the day the permit’s issued. I then created a workflow which mapped out the typical process. And I looked at five years worth of permit data and established the approximate amount of time each step was taking. Once I created this workflow, and really created a graphic, it became very obvious– pretty significant delay in the process, which occurred when we were distributing the permit application material to our technical staff for their review.

So the solution that I proposed to my organization, was a new process for managing permit applications. And I would build a system for digitizing, storing, and distributing the application material using Microsoft SharePoint. It also included an automated system which tracked our progress and sent out emails, updating project managers on important milestone dates.

Milestone dates are very important in my organization, because they’re actually regulated in the law, and we have to meet these. Which, based on workflows and the amount of work that we have sometimes, we can’t meet these dates. So the reminder was very helpful to us. The new workflow which I created cut out an entire step from our old process. This step was delaying us by up to two weeks.

So I presented my research and my proposal to my Regional Permits office, and the Director of the entire regional office. And this is exactly what Matt was saying, it gets you involved in your organization, and it really kind of spotlights your skills and your value in what you’re bringing the organization. After the presentation, my supervisor asked me to begin instituting the new system immediately in our office.

And we’ve been using it ever since, since 2016. It’s gone through quite a lot of revisions. It’s built. It was kind of like a working model, but we’re still using it now. After that presentation, I was asked to present it at our annual statewide meeting to all nine of our Regional Permits office and our Albany executive staff. And they were all pretty blown away by it.

A lot of the regional offices reached out to me personally, and they asked for individual walk-through on the workflow and the new system that I built out. And I want to say at least three or four regional offices are using, either the entire system or part of it, or they’ve kind of hybridized it into something that works with their internal process. So it did give me a lot of recognition with the higher-ups in my organization. And very importantly, since then, I have been promoted, which obviously is one of the main drivers for getting the MBA, I would say.

So the entire MBA program was a pretty rewarding experience for me. The capstone class pretty enjoyable, because I was really– I was able to apply everything I had learned in my coursework into a single project. And my office still uses the capstone every single day, my project, which is incredibly validating.

And you know, obviously none of us had seen this coming– but when the COVID hit, when there was the work pause, we were basically told we had to leave work. And we were not set up to go digital or work remotely. And this project that I created in the end result, allowed my office to go completely digital, work from home remotely.

And we were functioning at about 110% efficiency. And it was recognized pretty much all across the entire division, and within my entire organization. A lot of people started replicating what we were doing, because they saw how effective we were working, in like a new scenario, that we had never experienced before.

So that’s been my experience of capstone. It was very rewarding, very valuable. And the skill set that I walked away with, not only am I using it, but a lot of people in my organization are kind of benefiting from it to this day.

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: Thanks, Kevin. Noah, I think we’re going to kick it back to you.

NOAH GRIECO: All right. So as far as the online student experience goes, you’ll have plenty of support from the start of your application all the way through the program. Starting with a colleague or myself helping you through the admission process, ordering transcripts, answering questions for you, helping you bring together all the required documents to submit for an application. And once accepted into the program, we will help you register for those preliminary classes that you will take for your first semester.

And as you are registered for classes, you’ll have your student success coach, who will help you go through new student orientation. They’ll help you get connected for the live coffee talk webinar. They’ll help you with ongoing student registration through the program, and they’ll be there for any questions you have all the way up until your graduation.

You’ll have 24/7 Engage support. Engage is our online learning platform, which is what we use to give you that ability to take those classes from anywhere at any time. We also have an academic advisor that will be there, which, they will give you career guidance and support through your program.

So as far as those admission requirements are concerned, you would need a completed online application. We would need all of your official transcripts. Work experience is recommended.

The business versus non-business background– if you are from a business undergrad degree, you would take a Peregrine Pre-Test, but you would not be required to take modules. If you’re coming in with a non-business background, that’s not an issue. You can definitely do so. You would just take that pre-test and the modules that go with it.

The GPA requirement is a 2.75 minimum GPA. We don’t require any GRE or GMAT for the program. We would require a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, which can be academic or professional, and then an updated resume.

So the next steps through the process– we accept applicants throughout the year. Our current upcoming semester is the spring semester starting on January 17th. Files would need to be completed and submitted by the application deadline of January 7th.

Provide two or three references we can reach out to. We have templates to make the process very easy for you. We can help order transcripts on your behalf. And we can even cover those transcript fees for you, if we can order those for you. You’ll receive a response from the admission department within two to three weeks of your completed application, sometimes earlier than that.

So at this time, we’ll open it up to any questions that you all have for us. And while those questions are coming in, I do have one here that, Matthew, I’d like you to elaborate on a little bit.

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: Sure.

NOAH GRIECO: So what is considered part-time versus full-time for the program? And we noticed the core classes are 1.5 credits each. Why are they set up like that, compared to a typical graduate class of three credits?

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: Sure. I’ll start with the back half of that question. The classes are separated into two 1.5 credit classes. And the reason that we did that is to keep the graduate program in line with our undergraduate academic calendar. So really what we’re trying to do is, not only to keep it in line with the academic calendar, but those two 1.5 credit classes really turn into one seamless three credit experience.

So I’ll use leadership for example, because that’s another course that I teach in our MBA program. BUS 611 is the first half of leadership, and BUS 612 is the second half of leadership. So we’re using– it’s the same textbook. And it’s– and so you just kind of flow from one class into the next.

So although they are split up in kind of a different format, it was really mainly due to some scheduling concerns. And we do our best. And the faculty, I think, does a really good job of making sure that those classes are a seamless experience– a 16 week experience for the students. And in terms of the full-time, you have to be at six credits– or taking six credits, excuse me, to be considered a full time graduate student here.

NOAH GRIECO: Thank you for that. And that leads me into another question here. So whenever I went over the admission requirements, we mentioned that the work experience wasn’t required, just preferred and recommended. What kind of work experience are you looking for for the program?

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: You know, I think that’s going to vary case by case. I believe that if students can come in with at least a couple of years of work experience, that allows them to bring that real-world knowledge into the program. And I’ll provide you with an example.

In each one of our classes, we do team-based activities, whether it’s in class or outside of class. And part of the reason why we recommend work experience, is because you then can bring that outside experience into the classroom with you, and share it with whatever group that you’re working with. So if you’ve got a couple of years of work experience under your belt, you’ve seen some things in the workplace. And you can bring that with you, and when you’re trying to work in a team and come to some sort of formulation for a project, or some sort of deliverable, we think it’s really helpful to bring that experience with you.

And again, I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter what work experience you have. But what I will say, I think that coming in with some sort of work experience is going to be beneficial. But again, we do have students that are coming straight out of undergrad now. And we like to encourage those students that, look, even though you don’t have very much work experience– maybe you work part-time while you’re going to school. So let’s call on that experience and bring that to the table, and don’t undervalue or undersell the things that you’ve gone through in your short tenure as a professional.

NOAH GRIECO: Thank you. And Kevin, if you don’t mind sharing what type of work experience did you have coming into the program?

KEVIN BALDUZZI: You know, I would categorize it as very atypical for a business student. My background is in natural resource management. Prior to this, I had worked at a fish hatchery, and then I was moved into our Division of Environmental Permits office. So I had about 12 years of professional work experience.

And I guess, as Matt said, everybody brings their own set of experiences from their industry. And although it may not seem applicable to the MBA, lot of the lessons I learned, I’m using every day, especially data analytics, strategic thinking. So that was my work history coming into the program.

NOAH GRIECO: You mentioned data analytics. I’m sure there’s softwares from that. But overall, what types of software skills could students expect to learn coming out of this program?

KEVIN BALDUZZI: We were primarily using Microsoft Excel for data analytics. But I mean, it’s a program that everybody uses almost on a daily basis, I would say, in professional work. But really, the data analytics really, really drills into it, and shows you all the functions. It shows you how to manipulate data and really how to focus in on the results that you need.

So personally, that may have been one of my favorite classes. I took away quite a bit from it. And a lot of my capstone, actually, was using data that we capture in our permitting software. And I was analyzing that to show our trends, and to show areas that we were lagging behind in, areas that we could become a lot more efficient. So it was really focused on a lot of Microsoft products that we used during my MBA course.

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: And if I could– Noah, if you don’t mind me just jumping in here, too. We have instructors who are really well versed in data visualization software as well. So things– Microsoft Excel will get you there with data visualization. But we have instructors who are really well versed in things like Tableau, where you can really create some very nice looking, almost beautiful works of art, data visualizations.

Again, keeping in mind that it doesn’t matter how good your visualization works if you can’t explain the data. It’s not worth very much even if it looks good. So we do have– I think Kevin makes a great point in that Excel is universal. I mean, if you’re in the business world, you use Excel. And so that’s really the main focus in terms of data analytics. But we are kind of branching out a bit, and really stressing the value of visualization and explaining data in a persuasive way– in an understandable way– so the key stakeholders in your organization can really take home the message you’re trying to deliver, and use whatever it is that you’re analyzing and doing with the data, to help them make better business decisions.

NOAH GRIECO: Awesome, thank you for that. So another question we have here is, does the online experience involve a lot of group work? What type of collaboration can a student expect from the online program?

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: Short answer, yes. I kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, but in each one of our classes– capstone aside. The capstone is more of an individual project, as Kevin can attest to. But in each one of our classes, especially the business core, we have group work. We have group work within each class, and we have a focus on team-based final projects as well.

And the reason we do that is because team-based work is becoming the norm in industry. And we realize that, and our goal is to prepare successful business people. And so, to not provide students with various experiences of working in teams.

And we try to mix up the teams as much as we can, because we all realize the value in bringing diverse perspectives to the table. It allows you to come to solutions that you might not have even known were a possibility if you were thinking about it on your own, or if you were thinking about it with a group of people who are just like you. So we try to mix up the teams and create diverse teams to bring those diverse perspectives to the table.

And we found that, I think everyone, especially– regardless if you’re a graduate student or an undergraduate student– but students in general are really hesitant about group work sometimes. But I think by the time they get done with these projects and they get done with the program, and understand how much networking and relationship building and collaboration has gone on over the course of the two year program, the students really understand the value and what it is that we were trying to accomplish when we stuck them into groups like we do.

NOAH GRIECO: Great. That’s– thank you for going more in depth into that question. I really appreciate it.

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: No problem.

NOAH GRIECO: So another question we do have here, kind of leading off of that group work that you mentioned, is, how is the student– it’s sort of a two part question. How is student work evaluated? I know you mentioned the group work aspect. But as far as exams go, what do they look like and how are they proctored through an online platform?

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: So the evaluation of work is going to vary course by course. And we like to give our instructors that academic freedom. It’s a really important part of their job, is to be able to kind of choose how they run their classes. And as a program director, I can certainly provide input into those kinds of things. But I’m all about academic freedom and instructors doing their own thing.

And for the most part, I would say across the board, our instructors are fair. They understand that students in the program are working professionals. So if you’re going to miss a deadline, if you give the instructor a couple of days notice and say, hey, look. I put in 60 hours at work this week, and I’m just not going to be able to get this paper done by Sunday. They will bend for you. And I think Kevin can attest to that as well.

But in terms of the more specific piece of that question, the exams and the proctoring– so that will vary as well. I think sometimes instructors get creative with exams, and they have essay based exams and mixed models type of exams. Really, we don’t do a whole lot of online proctoring.

So what we do is, we actually will put a timestamp. So for example, if we have a multiple choice exam with a certain number of questions on it, we will put a timestamp on that, that will allow students to finish. But if they try to look up every answer and flip page by page through an e-text or a physical textbook, they’re going to struggle to finish the exam. So that’s kind of our way of– getting around is probably not the right phrase to use here. But it’s our way of trying to help ensure that students are digesting the material that’s being presented to them, and then applying it to whatever format the exam is in front of them, without having to use formal proctoring services.

NOAH GRIECO: Thank you. And we do have another question here. And I really like this question. The program is mentioned as a synchronous program, meaning it does require certain courses in the program to have live classes throughout the semester. Can you go into a little bit as to why we have the program set up with those synchronous sessions, and the importance of those live online lectures?

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: Sure, yeah. I think that’s a great question. And I don’t think that I can overstate the value in our synchronous sessions. And in order to portray what I’m meaning here, I’m going to give you a real world example that we’ve had in our MBA program.

So we had a student who lives in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, and she would join classes each week. And I’m not sure if she ever missed a class. She was one of our stellar students, but she would join class each week virtually from North Carolina. And we would have students in the room here with us in downtown Utica. And the students here got to know her really well, just because she was a staple in the classroom.

Well, it turns out by serendipity, that this student’s husband has family in the Utica area. So she actually had emailed us and said that she was going to be in the area. Unfortunately, I think it was for a funeral on her husband’s side of the family. But she said she was going to be in the area, and she was planning on attending class physically in downtown Utica, if that was a possibility.

And we said, of course. You know, you’re more than welcome to come down. So she actually showed up to the class physically. And none of the students who are typically there in the classroom knew she was coming.

As soon as she walked through the door, it was like she had been there with us the entire time. All the students were– they would say, hey, how are you? It’s so good to see you in person. But it was like they knew her, you know what I mean?

And that’s what we like to say about our synchronous sessions, is that it’s as close to actually being in the classroom without needing to be in the classroom if you can’t be. So I think that’s really the value in the synchronous sessions. Of course, we have our fully online classes. A lot of our electives in the program are fully online. But to give students the opportunity to join those synchronous sessions, and to have that real-time face to face interaction, be it virtual or physical, with the instructor, to us is invaluable. And that’s why I think that piece has really stuck with our MBA program.

NOAH GRIECO: Yeah, that’s awesome. I think that is a very good example that shows the valuable synchronous sessions, and why they are set up that way. I think it’s an invaluable part of the program, and I really think having that connection– not just the students with the professors but the professors back with the students– it’s very helpful.

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: For sure.

NOAH GRIECO: So, yeah, so thank you for sharing that. It doesn’t look like we have any more questions here. So we’re going to wrap up the presentation. Thank you everyone for joining us.

If you have any questions, if you’re interested in the program, please feel free to reach out to us via email or give us a call at the number listed on the screen. We appreciate all of your time, and we look forward to speaking with you guys soon. Thank you, Dr. Marmet, and thank you Kevin Balduzzi, for attending the Virtual Open House.

DR. MATTHEW MARMET: Thank you, appreciate it.

View this virtual open house recording to learn more about how Utica College’s online Master of Business Administration can help increase your earning and hiring potential. Dr. Matthew Marmet, program director, talks with one of the MBA program’s alumni and explains the unique advantages of Utica College’s MBA.

Request more information about our faculty and programs or call 315.732.2640 or toll-free 866.295.3106. Have a great day.