Take you higher Featured

8:00pm EDT May 26, 2007

You’ve gone as far as you possibly can go at a job that requires further education if you want any chance of moving up the corporate ladder. There are several schools in your area that offer adult MBA programs at night, but how do you find the right one?

“It’s very important that the school that you pick is an accredited one,” says Kevin Hughes, Ph.D., MBA program coordinator at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. MVNU also has a campus in Sharonville. “It can make a big difference in the quality of education available to the students.”

Smart Business talked to Hughes about how to pick a school and how sometimes God provides a helping hand in making the right choice.

What makes a good MBA program?

It’s important to find a program with national business accreditation such as the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The accreditation is what actually holds a good business school’s feet to the fire concerning the quality of education. It provides the standards and the benchmarks that the school should be working toward. It takes a couple of years to earn and it’s a lot of hard work but it is important.

How does a school earn accreditation?

You first must be regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and have business programs that already have graduates. In applying for ACBSP accreditation, a business school has to go through an elaborate process of reporting about its programs, curriculum and faculty, and make adjustments as required to meet the high standards of ACBSP. Once a school’s been accredited, it will be evaluated routinely to ensure quality.

Another component for accreditation is having a certain percentage of qualified full-time faculty teaching its business courses. Meeting this standard is logistically impossible for some of the competition in the nontraditional MBA market. In fact, almost all graduate business courses at MVNU are taught by full-time faculty, most having earned doctorates.

Can being a Christian-based school help or hinder recruitment?

At MVNU, we are serious about preparing people to be ethical and moral managers and leaders, people with integrity, regardless of their faith or religion. That is our mission as a Christian university. If you ask people whom they would prefer to hire, I think most people would prefer someone with integrity, high moral standards and who exhibits respect for others. That is the kind of manager, executive and leader we strive to develop in our MBA program. We aren’t here to just provide business knowledge, we are here to build character.

How does teaching ethics in a business class work?

Many business schools are trying to hit ethics hard now. A lot of it comes as a result from high profile stories like the Enron fiasco. There are many textbooks about business ethics today, but often they lack any foundation upon which to decide what is right or wrong. In our ethics courses, our basic principles for how to act ethically and morally come, ultimately, from the Bible. For example, a key Biblical principal is the golden rule — ‘do to others as you would have done to you’ — even if the other person is your business competitor. That does not mean you do not compete to win, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. In the School of Business, we strive to keep these principles front and center in all our programs including the MBA.

Students entering our bachelor of business administration program were surveyed about why they came to a Christian-based school. Most didn’t list a faith-based foundation as being important to them in choosing a business program. After graduation from the BBA program, however, many listed the faith-based focus of the program and the faculty and staff as very important in their educational experience. In fact, many of these BBA students have returned to attend our MBA program because they know they can count on a quality business education in a wholesome environment that champions ethics, integrity and character in every aspect of life.

KEVIN HUGHES, Ph.D., is the MBA coordinator at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Reach him at (740) 392-6868 ext. 3323 or Kevin.hughes@mvnu.edu.