Educational opportunities Featured

11:35am EDT July 31, 2002
There's no excuse not to develop yourself or your employees, thanks to the myriad educational programs available in the Columbus area, home to some of the top business programs in the country.

Here, working adults can find courses both online and in traditional classroom settings.

With most of these programs, the emphasis is on applying the classroom experience to the workplace the next day, which means your company benefits from Day One. Whether you're grooming a successor or sharpening your management skills, there are many academic institutions working to meet your needs.

MBA-bound

Most managers and executives feel an MBA is a must, and several programs can provide not only a quality education but hands-on project experience and specialization.

The Fisher College of Business (FCB) of The Ohio State University offers a unique executive MBA program which students can complete in 17 months.

"The program is formatted for the employee that is moving up the ladder," says Carol Newcomb, director of executive education at FCB. "Two-thirds of the class material is offered in the classroom, the remainder is offered over the Web."

The programs encourages students to apply classroom knowledge to their jobs.

"I've heard a student say after the first session that he can use what he learned now," Newcomb says.

Students attending this program are chosen by their companies because they are bright, aggressive professionals climbing the corporate ladder. Many are doctors or lawyers who are leading their firms.

Neil Shnider, director of Capital University's MBA program, says Capital offers two types of MBA programs, each directed to a particular type of student. There's a two-nights-a-week program for those working full time and a day program for full-time students.

"We offer every required course every semester," says Shnider.

And Capital offers the only 12-month daytime MBA program in the city.

"It's a very structured program," he says.

Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University offers both the MBA and technology oriented management degree programs.

"Our MBA program and the Master of Information System Management program are the most popular," says Terri Lechton, Keller's center director. "We offer evening, weekend and online formats, and the ability to mix and match them for maximum flexibility."

Lechton says the school's student base includes employees from the area's largest firms as well as budding entrepreneurs.

"In all of our classes, students undertake projects or consult with organizations in the community to apply and sharpen their skills," Lechton says. "They help organizations that do not have the resources to hire external consultants."

Keller offers six specialized master's degree programs that include a Master of Human Resource Management, a Master of Telecommunications Management and, a Master of Project Management. Again, technology is a strong focus of these programs.

"Many of our students are already mid-level managers building skills to move up in their organizations," says Lechton.

Capital University also offers specialized master's and MBA programs. Students can earn a combination of degrees, such as an MBA/JD, MBA/MT (master's of taxation) and MBA/MSN (master's of nursing).

Nondegree programs

Newcomb, of the Fisher College of Business, says the school has found there's a need for leadership training. In response, it has created its Emerging Leaders Program, in which students meet once a month and work on specific projects.

"The student can apply what he or she is learning immediately," says Newcomb.

Students also receive individual mentoring and counseling.

According to Newcomb, this program is ideal for professionals who have been focused on one area of a business, such as engineering, who are becoming executives. The program shows students how all departments of a corporation work together.

Companies looking to improve processes and efficiencies can also take part in FCB's Six Sigma program. The program, developed by Motorola, is a disciplined, data-driven approach for eliminating waste by improving the quality of organizational processes and products. In other words, it's a way to systematically improve bottom-line results by eliminating defects throughout the value stream.

FCB's program combines one week of classroom experience with 120 hours of online learning to ready the student for the Six Sigma Black Belt, or certification exam.

Entrepreneurial education

For small to mid-sized businesses wanting to develop a new or revised business plan, the resource may be the Ohio Foundation of Entrepreneurial Education (OFEE).

"We offer custom business plan programming," says OFEE executive director Sandy Dickinson. "It is very much applicable to new businesses, those looking to revamp their plan or companies looking to move into a new phase."

The program also helps corporate departments develop business plans and assists with new product development.

"The same analysis can be done to address a whole new product line," Dickinson says.

OFEE also offers the program to consulting firms. "Banks, law firms or accounting firms can offer the program to their clients," she says.

Employee development

Companies can take advantage of programs to provide employees with new skills. Jan Wagner, dean of community education and work force development at Columbus State Community College, says her department's goal is to upgrade the skill level of the area's work force and transition welfare recipients to work.

"We contract with employers to provide the specific job training they need," Wagner says. "Essentially, when the employer calls, we go to the work site and do an assessment."

Columbus State can customize almost any training program to fit a company's needs, "although education is not always the answer to the problem," Wagner says.

Columbus State develops the curriculum and partners with experts on and off campus to ensure the program's quality.

"We had a group of forensic pathologists that wanted a program for digging up bones and determining their age and other information," says Wagner. "We contacted a professional organization expert in this area to help develop the program.

"If we don't have a person on staff, we have a link to the correct professional. How to reach: The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, (614) 292-8511; Capital University, (614) 236-6670; Keller School of Management of DeVry University, (614) 251-6969; Ohio Foundation of Entrepreneurial Education, (614) 264-9047; Columbus State Community College, (614) 287-2400.