Online MBA Program named one of the best in California

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California Lutheran University was ranked 8 on the list for the “10 Best Online Master of Business Administration Programs in California for 2017” by the College Choice website.

Gerhard Apfelthaler, dean of the School of Management at Cal Lutheran, said he believes the Master of Business Administration program is unique because students are given the ability to choose from multiple formats. Since there are many part-time students in the program who are working professional, they can either attend classes in the evenings or take classes online depending on their schedules.

“We have aligned our on campus MBA with our online MBA so all of the classes are really the same. You have the same learning outcomes, the same textbooks and the same content,” Apfelthaler said. “So the flexibility comes from students being able to take a mix of on-campus and online classes from term to term or sometimes even within a term.”

For online courses, a weekly live chat is required, giving students the ability to interact with their professors. This makes the online MBA program at Cal Lutheran different from other online MBA programs.

“Our [program] is different because it has the mandatory element of interaction with the professor through the discussion boards which is also asynchronous because its on your own time and at your own pace, but then we have the live chat” Apfelthaler said. “I think it makes us unique that this [live chat] is a requirement that not a lot of schools have.”

Apfelthaler said he believes it is important for the program to offer a number of activities that are accessible online in order to facilitate learning.

Robert Bushnell, who graduated from the MBA program at Cal Lutheran in 2006, is a group vice president for a large company in the aerospace and defense sector. He is part of a leadership team that is responsible for managing seven companies operating at 20 sites in five countries.

“I have to regularly apply skills I learned at CLU that deal with strategy development and execution, marketing, finance, operations, human resources and IT.  Without my CLU MBA, I wouldn’t possess the breadth of business skills needed to do the job I have today. I owe a lot of my success to CLU and the CLU School of Management,” Bushnell said in an email interview.

In order to get his degree while working, Bushnell took classes in the evenings and on the weekends that were in close proximity to his home or office.

“The multiple formats of the MBA program give students greater flexibility to meet their educational objectives in a manner and format that works well for even the busiest professionals,” Bushnell said.

The MBA Program Director Sumantra Sengupta said 70 percent of students enrolled in the program already have careers.

“They come here to get their MBA either to further their career where they are working or in some cases to find alternative employment in the same sector or sometimes to change careers,” Sengupta said.

According to College Choice, companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Merrill Lunch and Farmers Insurance have hired students who graduated from the MBA program at Cal Lutheran.

Sengupta said he believes the best thing about the program is the flexibility, as the program allows students to have jobs while taking classes. They can attend classes in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Westlake Village or Woodland Hills as well as take classes online.

“Having the online component allows us to get Cal Lutheran out further into the community especially where our MBA students are working. So we take the MBA program to them as opposed to them having to come to us,” Sengupta said.

Apfelthaler said he believes this ranking by College Choice will give the online MBA program more visibility.

Kate Artmann
Staff Writer