MBAs for women Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2007

Today, the business world is more global and competitive than ever. Women are being placed in increasingly responsible positions within companies and need to have the proper skills necessary to do the job.

With more options available to pursue a Master of Business Administration, this is easier than ever to do, says Melanie Spangler, assistant professor of business at Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU).

Smart Business spoke with Spangler about what skills women can expect to gain by earning an MBA and what options are available to accommodate their busy schedules.

Are there more options today for women to pursue an MBA?

MBA programs seem to be more accessible to women than they historically have been. Most colleges and universities, especially those with outstanding programs, have begun to structure their programs around the needs of the nontraditional MBA student.

Are there MBA programs tailored more toward women than men?

While I don’t believe it’s the intent of program creators to design an MBA tailored specifically to women, there are MBA programs that seem to have the ability to better meet the needs of female students. Students in our program meet one night a week for four hours and take one class at a time in six-week blocks. The majority of students can complete the program in 22 to 24 months. The night that students attend class remains consistent throughout the program. The program’s design allows female students to balance the demands of their professional, personal and academic lives. I’ve had students say that they appreciate how MVNU’s program is designed because they only have to be away from home and their children one night a week.

Offering an MBA program at several locations also seems to be beneficial for women. Instead of requiring students to travel to our main campus, they’re able to pick from several satellite campuses that offer an MBA. This design is beneficial to the female student as she’s able to pick the campus, including Cincinnati, that best meets her needs.

What value does a woman obtain in the work force and in her professional career from earning an MBA today?

It’s beneficial for a woman to obtain her MBA due to the number of opportunities that having one creates. With an advanced degree, such as an MBA, you have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings. These settings include the private sector, public sector or nonprofits. A leader in any of these economic sectors needs the skills for developing business plans, understanding financials and managing resources.

Quality programs also offer the benefit of establishing contacts and networks that become important for students after they leave school. Our MBA program is designed on a cohort model, which means that the same group of students will go through the entire program together. The students form a strong bond with one another and form strong networks, which they may use for future resources.

The MVNU program is also designed to be student-centered so that students are presented with the opportunity to apply the concepts talked about in class to real-world situations. They engage in exercises that require them to analyze the current practices being followed at their companies and design suggestions for improvement.

What sort of skills can a woman attain through participating in an MBA program?

A female student will obtain a multitude of skills through participating in an MBA program. Some of these include quantitative skills in the areas of accounting, finance and statistics; forecasting and planning skills; strategic management skills; and resource management skills. An additional skill, and one that’s emphasized at MVNU, is servant leadership. This concept is biblically based but also becomes an excellent tool to use in the workplace. It’s one’s job as a manager to come alongside your employees and give them the tools and support they need to truly succeed. Loosely paraphrasing Henry Ford — ‘You may only need an employee’s hands to do the job, but you get the whole person.’ Our MBA students are given the tools to identify what motivates their employees as well as how to design systems that encourage employees to perform their best.

What financial aid and other options are available?

Federal Stafford Loans and private student loans are available to finance an MBA. Some institutions offer Direct Lending programs where you borrow money from the school versus a private lender. Private organizations also offer financial assistance to students. Money from private organizations isn’t guaranteed, and awards are made on a competitive basis after a review of a variety of factors. One of these factors could be a person’s gender.

For more information on financial aid call (800) 839-2355 ext. 4737.

MELANIE SPANGLER is assistant professor of business at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon. Reach her at (740) 392-6868 ext. 4750 or