Full-time MBA students return to in-person instruction, represent one of the most professionally diverse classes

The Moore School’s newest full-time MBA cohort is one of the first groups of students to attend classes at UofSC in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began; they may be among the first groups of college students in the U.S. to meet face to face since courses across the country went virtual in March.

The summer 2020 MBA cohort was given the option to return to face-to-face instruction in July or continue virtually learning depending on their comfort level. For those who choose to attend in person, university protocols are in place to keep faculty, staff and students safe and healthy.

“The MBA program staff has been able to pull together to create a sense of community and create a network that’s virtual in ways we never have before,” said Jennifer Ninh, managing director of full-time MBA programs.

MBA candidate Sean Maurice said he appreciates having the option to attend class in person or virtually.

“Even though we’re social distancing, I still feel very close to my fellow classmates,” Maurice said.” We’re always messaging on [Microsoft] Teams or What’s App. It’s just been a really good experience so far.”

The MBA students are adapting, and courses are operating smoothly, said Doug Hanslip, director of career services for the full-time MBA program in the Moore School’s Office of Career Management.

“We’re all wearing masks, and as a teaching faculty, we are offering dual virtual and in-classroom instruction,” he said. “There’s a little bit of adapting between the two mediums when you’re going back and forth, but students have grasped both formats and the duality of the teaching styles very effectively.”

Including this new group, the Moore School’s MBA program is continuing to grow; enrollment has doubled in size over the past two years. This is the largest class the Moore School has had in their full-time MBA program in close to 10 years.

Not only have the quantity of students increased, but the program has also seen an increase in the professional and personal diversity students bring to the table.

“What I think is very impressive, there’s a lot in the news today about the decline of the MBA marketplace overall with some schools closing their MBA programs, but our program’s enrollment has increased almost 100 percent in the past two years,” said Jeff Rehling, marketing lecturer and director of the Center for Marketing Solutions, a key advisor for MBA strategic marketing. “Not only has the Moore School done it with greater numbers, we’ve recruited higher quality students with more work experience and from a variety of professions and industries. Our program really is representative of the ‘real world.’”

In this year’s class of MBA students, their career backgrounds include consultants, engineers, a professional musician, a pastry chef, returned Peace Corps volunteers, a minister and military veterans. They are from 16 states and five continents. The 2020 students also have an average of four years’ work experience with companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, the U.S. House of Representatives, UPS and KABOOM! that they’re bringing into the program.

One of the reasons students choose the Moore School’s MBA is to find a “springboard in their careers, or they are looking to make a pivot and try something different. Our leadership in terms of globalization and international business is built to help them achieve these goals,” Rehling said.

The Moore School’s International MBA is ranked No. 1, according to U.S. News & World Report, and has been in the top three for 31 consecutive years and No. 1 for seven consecutive years. 

“If you think about what’s been going on for the past several months [with the pandemic], I don’t think the International MBA could be any more relevant than it is today,” Rehling said. “That’s why we take a lot of pride in that No. 1 ranking and the things that we accomplish with our students in providing them with opportunities to learn from one another and continuing to be a leader not just in South Carolina or the U.S. but around the world.”

While learning from “world-class faculty with global experience who are world-renowned researchers,” MBA students also learn from the students sitting next to them in class, where students share their experiences from the industries they’ve worked in and the jobs they’ve held while making connections to real-life situations, Rehling added.   

The Moore School has made intentional enhancements to the full-time MBA program over the past several years to drive the growth in both the quality and quantity of students choosing the program.

“About three years ago under the guidance of Dean Peter Brews, we revised the curriculum to meet the demands of a changing marketplace,” said Satish Jayachandran, associate dean of full-time MBA programs and chair of the marketing department. “As a consequence, our students today can get a great MBA or International MBA education and supplement that with certificates in business analytics, enterprise resource management, or for the IMBA certification, global strategy as well.”

With increasing demand for their program, the Moore School MBA faculty and staff are determined to meet the demands of employers by continuing to provide a holistic, relevant experience that prepares MBA graduates for a competitive, globally focused marketplace, Ninh said.

Marjorie Riddle Duffie