Two MBA programs headed to Bend

OSU-Cascades and UO will target different audiences

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

The University of Oregon will launch an executive MBA program in Bend next fall, a move Oregon State University-Cascades Campus administrators say will complement their own upcoming MBA program.

The UO executive MBA program will be housed at the school’s Bend Center on Northeast River Mall Drive. The two-year program is targeted at working business executives and will be delivered via a video-conference stream from classrooms in Portland. Students also will be required to make about eight trips a year to Portland.

The OSU-Cascades MBA is for students looking to earn the credentials to enter managerial positions. The program can be completed in one year of full-time coursework, but working students also will be able to enroll. The university aims to launch the program between the fall of 2015 and 2016.

“There will be two different options for local students to get an MBA, which I think is a good thing for the region,” said Marla Hacker, associate dean of academic programming at OSU-Cascades and an associate professor of business.

The upcoming programs are coming onto the scene as one is phasing out. Concordia University in Portland offers a Bend-based MBA program that is about to graduate its last class of Bend students.

Dale Morse, executive director of the UO executive MBA program, said the new programs “will not be in competition” because of their differences. He said the UO program hopes to launch with at least three students next fall.

“It’s important that we have enough students so they are able to form a study group,” Morse said. “The program is really based on students learning from each other. Because the students already have experience, they often help with teaching in their particular area of expertise. For instance, an accountant can help me teach that section, but learn from another student who has marketing experience at a later point.”

Morse defines the mission of the executive MBA as “broadening a student’s horizons beyond their specialization.” He emphasized that graduates will be able to move into higher-level managerial positions and “interact with all areas of a company, not just their one functional unit.” Course times are also structured to accommodate the schedule of a working professional.

One of the big differences between the two programs is cost. While UO’s Morse said around two-thirds of his students receive a full or partial scholarship from their employers, tuition runs $71,500 for the two-year period, which includes books, meals, parking and other expenses. Also, the university is offering students a $15,000 scholarship. Even with the scholarship, Hacker said, the OSU-Cascades program will cost about half the price of the UO program, though a final price hasn’t been set.

“There are other big differences, such as that our program is face to face,” Hacker said. “Also, we have a focus on global business and being able to utilize the Web to do business, even if you’re not working internationally.”

The student profiles of the two programs will also be different. Morse said the typical executive MBA student is 37 or 38, while traditional MBA students are 25 or 26. International students will play a big part in the OSU-Cascades program as part of a partnership with INTO, a group that recruits international students to the main OSU campus.

“We plan to have about 50 percent international students in the program,” Hacker said. “Given the focus of our program, having a global flavor makes sense, and it will be good for our local students and the international students to work and learn together.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com