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As National Recognition of Graduate Programs Grows, Muma College of Business Offers New, Innovative Options

By Keith Morelli

Students in class

TAMPA (April 7, 2017) -- As the national academic rankings roll out year after year, more and more attention is being paid to the University of South Florida's graduate business degrees, including the most recent designation of the part-time MBA program moving up in the rankings, placing No. 56 in the nation among public universities.

The national recognition comes as the Muma College of Business moves ahead with plans to offer a spate of new graduate programs with flexible schedules in hopes of enticing working professionals to launch themselves back into the academic fold. A master's degree or an MBA can open new career doors or boost salaries for those employees, who previously were precluded from post-graduate education opportunities because of conflicting work and class schedules.

Last month, the U.S. News and World Report ranked the part-time MBA program here in the top third of 360 schools across the nation, rising 10 places from the previous year and breaking into the top 100 for the first time.

That part-time MBA program has steadily climbed in the rankings. In 2014, it was ranked No. 157 and it jumped 11 places the following year. In 2016, the program rose to 130 and then jumped 28 places to 102 in 2017.

And Bloomberg Businessweek in 2015 ranked the Muma College of Business part-time MBA program No. 32 on a list of 74 programs offered in the United States. The part-time MBA program here jumped four slots from the year before in the survey that was based on assessments from alumni and current students.

The growing national reputation of the graduate business programs has prompted more options for students seeking master's degrees and MBAs and the Muma College of Business is finding new ways to accommodate schedules of working professionals who are seeking those degrees.

"These rankings and all this recognition are proof that the academic caliber of students in our graduate programs is amazing and the quality of education offered by our dedicated faculty rivals others around the globe," said Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem.

"We are leveraging on the success of what we offer and we are building new options for professionals who can't take the time away work to attend classes full time," he said. "We are furthering our mission, which is to bring those in the business community into our academic circle, thereby making them more competitive in the workplace, their careers more fulfilling and their lives more rewarding.

"The programs we offer will continue to carry forward our innovative and practical approach to education," he said, "and they will fill the needs of the business community and it will result in lucrative salaries for our graduates."

To complement the existing programs – face-to-face executive MBA and part-time MBA – a new Muma College of Business online MBA program announced just last month will feature a choice of concentrations based on career aspirations. The new program offers three fields of study that are particularly relevant in today's business world: cybersecurity, compliance, risk and anti-money laundering and data analytics.

An added benefit of the degree: It comes from an AACSB-accredited program.

On top of that, the Muma College of Business this fall will present a new option: A weekend master's degree in business analytics and information systems targeting IT professionals who also can't take time away from their work to go to class.

The program melds online education with face-to-face weekend classes.

Helping to sell the programs is all the national recognition, like CEO Magazine earlier this month, which ranked the Muma College of Business's Executive MBA program No. 44 on the list of universities from around the globe.

The rankings take into account the quality of faculty, international diversity, class size and accreditation, among other factors.

"The challenge that must be met in order to make graduate business programs appeal to working professionals is shaping the courses to fit their demanding schedules," said Kaushal Chari, Muma College of Business' associate dean for research and professional programs. "The new programs we offer do have those flexible schedules, as we strive to create course studies that fit the busy work agendas of potential students whose time also is in high demand elsewhere."