UC Davis is expanding its nationally ranked business school to include an online-only MBA program, making it easier for working professionals or other nontraditional students to earn a degree.
The UC Davis Graduate School of Management announced the new program, called MBA@UCDavis, Wednesday in a press release. Davis is the first University of California campus to offer an online-only business school program. The school of management has been ranked among the nation's top 50 for 24 years in a row.
"Top schools already have launched online programs," H. Rao Unnava, dean of the management school, said. "We are now at the forefront in terms of the first few that are coming out."
Competitors such as the University of Southern California, the University of North Carolina and Rice all offer online MBA programs as well.
The program will be priced similarly to the traditional MBA option. Unnava said it will be fully equivalent to the full time experience, and students will graduate with the same UC Davis MBA degree. Tuition for the two-year program is estimated to total $104,400.
Application requirements, which include the GMAT or GRE, will be the same as well.
MBA@UCDavis is currently accepting applications, and the first group of students will start classes Oct. 1. Unlike the traditional program, MBA@UCDavis will accept students for the beginning of each quarter, instead of just once. Unnava expects the first year of the program to enroll 150 students.
The new program began when the business school realized the traditional classroom-based model wasn't reaching a large group of potential students, Unnava said. They include people with careers who can't fit class into their schedules, who live too far away to commute to campus, or who simply prefer online classes.
"(Some millennials) don't see much value coming to a place every week," Unnava said. "They are quite comfortable speaking online."
Unnava added that many employers require virtual teamwork experience. Global companies have teams that often collaborate online, so an online MBA can make a candidate more appealing for some recruiters.
Creating a program that attracts attention from big companies was important, Unnava said.
"UC Davis is known to be a very good school, but its national footprint is not as large," Unnava said. "Because we have national level marketing -- and within a few months we are doing global marketing -- the UC Davis name will go global."
Unnava said the program seeks to boost the profile of Davis and Sacramento as well. By establishing a brand that shows the Davis and Sacramento communities filled with qualified candidates and smart researchers, the program will give companies an incentive to put down roots here, he said.
Accreditation for the new program by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission is pending. Unnava said the accreditation vote is anticipated for June, and he doesn't expect any issues with the process given the quality of education UC Davis has delivered in the past.
"I give kudos to the faculty because they were insistent that what we deliver is in no way inferior to the other two programs," Unnava said, indicating the full- and part-time business school programs UC Davis already offers.
The online program will have the same curriculum, the same credit requirements and the same faculty, Unnava said. Working in teams will still be a major component of the program, and students will still attend a live class every week -- it will just be live online. Class sizes will be limited to 15 to optimize the live learning experience.
The quality of online programs has improved over time, Unnava said, due in large part to technology. The digital platform for the UC Davis program will be provided by 2U Inc., a global education technology company.
The UC Davis program will be 2U's first MBA partner in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, according to the press release, but 2U has worked with other elite schools including Yale, UNC, UC Berkeley, Northwestern and Harvard.