UI officials see rising demand for Iowa’s only EMBA program


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Proving it’s never too late to learn, business executives with approximately 15 years of experience are flocking to the only E.M.B.A. program in Iowa.

The University of Iowa offers Executive M.B.A. programs in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines. University officials say they have seen demand for the Des Moines class rise from 20 students in 2004 to 37 students expressing interest for the next class, which will start January 2014.

Sarah Gardial, dean of the Tippie College of Business, said full-time M.B.A students are often in a career transition and are unsure of their futures in business. Executive M.B.A programs are M.B.A programs tailored to business executives who typically already have well-established careers.

“They are looking for ways to accelerate the path they are already on and looking for promotion opportunities,” she said. “They have clarity about their career path.”

Alex Taylor, associate director of the UI’s E.M.B.A program, said the Des Moines class began in 2004 but was never started up again until 2011 because there was a lack of interest. Now, he said, word is beginning to spread throughout the Des Moines area about the course and people are expressing heightened interest.

“We’re the only Executive M.B.A program in the state, and until we returned to Des Moines, there really was not a similar program offered in the Des Moines area tailored to the working professional,” Taylor said.

Despite the course’s $60,000 price tag, students are often able to gain sponsorships from their companies. Gardial said testimonies from students in the program have encouraged more companies to send executives up for promotions to earn their M.B.A.

“Word of mouth is very strong in creating a repeat purchase in an Executive M.B.A program,” she said. “If they see that it is [a good investment] they’re going to want to send more [students].”

Kurt Anstreicher, senior associate dean of the Tippie College of Business, said the program in Des Moines has been beneficial to both the students and to the UI.

“We’re providing something to Des Moines companies and people who are working in Des Moines that they are looking for, and it gives us another source of students for those programs,” he said. “It also gives us a strengthened tie with local companies. It’s very important for a business school like the Tippie College to be connected with area businesses.”

Gardial said maintaining a presence in Des Moines is not only important because it benefits the university but also because it is the UI’s duty to serve the state.

“We have a commitment to this state and certainly [to] Des Moines as the state capital,” she said. “We’re helping develop the leaders of industry in this state.”

Gardial said the UI has M.B.A programs in Iowa City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities  in order to serve the most Iowans possible.

Taylor said in addition to a rising demand, another course is scheduled to begin in 2014 because of the success of the current students and their positive feedback.

“Since the program began, three existing students have been promoted within their own companies, and that’s a measure of success,” he said.

Anstreicher said they are pleased with the way the program is growing and is hopeful for its continuation.

“Based on the success of the cohort that’s just finishing now, we think there’s enough demand to continue running the program,” he said. “We’d like to run the program on an ongoing basis.”

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