The growth in distance education in recent years is staggering. In the last eight years, the number of students enrolled in at least one course online has grown from 1.6 million to 4.6 million. And as the demand for graduate degrees increases, online programs are an increasingly attractive option for working professionals or individuals with demanding lifestyles for whom traditional on-campus, full-time enrollment is not feasible.

On January 14 of this year, the School of Business welcomed its inaugural cohort of online MBA students to campus for a three-day residency to kick off their two-year, part-time distance-learning program. 

The fully accredited program builds on Clarkson's award-winning program in Global Supply Chain Management and the expertise of the faculty and is designed for working professionals.

quote"The degree offers a practical way for those employed full time to continue their education by integrating web-based distance learning with peer participant networking," says Farzad Mahmoodi, professor and director of the Global Supply Chain Management program at Clarkson. "The program's distinct advantage: It allows an individual from any background to earn an MBA at a pace that works with even the most demanding lifestyle."

The program begins with Leadership Development. "Early in the course, students identify their personal leadership strengths and development areas and gain a better understanding of their behavioral impact on others," explains Stephen Sauer, assistant professor of consumer and organizational studies. "We use a simulation experience to give them an opportunity to practice their personal leadership, communication and interaction skills in developing an effective team process. This exercise is particularly valuable given the diversity in participants' academic and professional backgrounds."

In addition, the on-campus learning component integrates networking opportunities outside the classroom and provides opportunities for all students to develop strong ties across disciplines in the School of Business and in the Clarkson community. Following his three-day residency experience, Jeremy Snyder, a plant engineer at Black River Generation in Watertown, N.Y., was impressed by the spirit of community and teamwork at Clarkson. "My first experience was above and beyond all expectations," he says. "The levels of professionalism and friendliness were superior to my previous experiences at other universities. The faculty and staff made every attempt to get to know the students in the classroom and in casual settings. They are dedicated to providing a high-quality education in an environment that promotes friendship and teamwork. The Clarkson faculty and staff are part of my team."

In mid-August, this group of students will visit Clarkson for a second residency to complete the Leadership Development component of their MBA. Meanwhile, online classes take place over 12-week periods (four per year), using a variety of web-based learning software and live online sessions.

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