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Penn State Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Online MBA Program

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University Park, Pennsylvania — Abby Crolla was nearing the end of her stint as Air Combat Manager for the Air Force and had to decide whether to continue serving or explore a career outside the military.

Culora applied to Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus, but missed the fall semester admissions deadline and decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. She had opportunities at other colleges, but after hearing about the benefits and opportunities available to military students, she decided to wait until the next semester.

“It felt really good,” Crolla said.

After attending the program, she recalled being nervous on the first day of the program’s in-person residency. But a simple gesture of recognition by applause at a moment when members of the military were honored to stand up stuck with Culora. It went a long way in relieving her tension.

“Everyone was welcoming and wanted me to be there,” she said.

Today, Culora is a supply chain expert, joining more than 1,600 students who have completed their MBA online from Penn State University since the school opened in 2002. Target.

What is the Penn State Online MBA?

The online MBA is a 48-credit degree program that teaches students how to strategically manage high-performance teams and solve real-world business challenges. The program is designed to be tailored to each individual’s interests and needs through 27 concentrations, such as traditional business topics such as management business analysis, accounting and finance, or specialized areas such as public administration and homeland security. It has been.

Internationally ranked and AACSB accredited, the Penn State Smeal College of Business offers an online Master of Business Administration degree and students are enrolled in the Penn State Smeal College of Business, the Black School of Business in Behrend, Pennsylvania. You can learn from experts at state universities. State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, Pennsylvania State Harrisburg School of Business Administration.

Students complete 39 core credits and 9 credits of an elective concentration at the start of the program, as well as a 3-day residency, either virtual or in person.

Renata S. Engel, vice-chancellor of online education, said degrees are an important part of World Campus’ portfolio.

“MBAs have been an important part of our online degree programs for 20 years, and we are grateful that we were able to meet the needs of students pursuing that education online,” said Engel. “Graduate business education is very different today than it was 20 years ago. I strive to be.”

Military to MBA

Culora launched the course in January 2018 and chose a course focused on corporate innovation and leadership. As she majored in criminal justice during her undergraduate years, she was apprehensive about entering her MBA program without her background in advanced business. But what Culora found in her first residency was a group of people of all ages and occupations.

“It was really overwhelming until I got there, but I realized that everyone is so diverse, they come from different backgrounds, and there’s so much they can contribute,” she said.

Culora was concerned about “fitting in” during the transition from the military. She said the transition can be overwhelming. Most of her colleagues and friends were military personnel, so she questioned her ability to relate to her MBA peers. She is grateful to Penn State University and her husband and other veterans for their advice along the way.

Culora praised the flexibility of the MBA program and the support of peers, professors and program administrators. During her class, a hurricane hits her house, she has a baby, and she experiences the death of her father. All the while, Culora had support from all levels of the program, she said.

Culora said her leadership course showed her that she already had the skills needed to be successful.

“It worked. These things are related. This is a valuable experience that I could turn into a business career,” she said. The MBA grew on top of them and gave me skills I didn’t have.”

late career change

Stephen Pellman got promoted at work and decided through an MBA that he needed a more formal background, learning concepts he would otherwise have to learn on his own. He decided to apply for the Pennsylvania State Online MBA while continuing his job as Director of Operations.

Pellman began his coursework in 2017 with a focus on project management, later switching to finance.

Perman says the onsite residency was especially helpful and still connects with group members today. Perman’s colleagues hailed from Mexico, Brazil, Europe and Russia, creating “a global experience only possible under that model.”

“The efficiency of being able to run the program remotely has had a huge impact because we don’t have to walk in and out of classroom sessions,” explained Pellman.

Perman, who attended an MBA program decades ago, said the face-to-face format lacked an online component, and he lost time traveling and working. With the design of the Pennsylvania State Online MBA, Pelman found coursework more approachable and success easier to achieve.

“I think it’s a model for the future, especially when it comes to business, because you can’t go back to school anytime soon,” he said.

Pellman compared working on an MBA course to an ongoing opportunity to apply what was learned in real time.

“It’s like being in an internship or a co-op the whole time you’re in school,” Perman said. “And that experience is invaluable.”

Pelman says the experience has taught him to continuously evaluate his leadership of an 80-person team and to look at other leadership styles differently.

Perman changed jobs during the program and became Chief Operating Officer before graduating in 2020.