nearly eight decades since it was established as one
of the nation’s first professional business
schools, the UND College of Business and Public Administration
has been known for the excellence of its undergraduate
Alumni are found in high-level positions in business,
industry, and government around the nation and world,
a fact not lost on prospective students. Undergraduate
enrollment this fall was 1,665, and five of its programs
are among UND’s top 15 degree-producing programs
(management, accounting, information systems, airport
management and marketing).
Less well-known is the College’s Master of
Business Administration program, this past fall enrolling
112 full- and part-time students. Established in 1976,
the MBA program helps UND differentiate itself from
its peers at the upper end of the business education
spectrum, those 400 schools accredited by the AACSB-International,
the premier accrediting organization for schools of
Why is the MBA prospering at UND?
In part it’s because of critical mass, says
Dean Dennis Elbert. UND’s undergraduate business
programs provide a solid substructure for more advanced
study and research. In the four-state region, only
the University of Minnesota turns out more business
graduates than UND.
Elbert says demand is high from recent and older graduates
with bachelor’s degrees who correctly believe
that an MBA from an accredited school can open otherwise
closed doors, especially in corporate America.
But perhaps the most important factor in the higher
profile of the program, he says, is the kind of faculty
who have been drawn to UND in recent years. Nearly
all have Ph.D. degrees, and most have business experience
as well. They represent all major areas of interest
in business as well as economics, industrial technology,
public administration, and health care administration.
Faculty specialties within disciplines include sports
marketing, investments, real estate, human resource
management, management science, corporate finance,
and managerial and financial accounting.
What sets UND’s MBA program apart from its
Small classes and a modern quantitative and technical
focus, says Jacob Wambsganss, MBA program director.
Students learn to understand internal and external
factors affecting businesses and acquire tools and
the decision-making skills to control them. This approach
is reflected in the MBA’s most recent 15-year
history, he said, and is being built upon today. UND’s
competitors are playing catch-up.
The curriculum generally consists of 32 semester
credits, including a “core” of 24 credits,
two credits of independent study, and six credits
of electives in business or related fields. Core courses
include advanced managerial theory, managerial finance,
accounting information for decision and control, strategic
market planning, macroeconomic decision making, quantitative
analysis for management decisions, information systems,
and advanced strategic management.
UND also emphasizes experiential learning, including
hands-on work with actual businesses, Wambsganss says.
With small class sizes, graduate students are able
to do things at UND that they couldn’t do elsewhere.
“Rarely do students in other programs get to
work closely with faculty on projects,” he said.
“Here, we facilitate that interaction.”
State-of-the-art technology and partnerships with
the UND Center for Innovation and the North Dakota
Small Business Development Center offer students opportunities
for hands-on development of “real-world”
skills. Students also work with area entrepreneurs,
helping business owners write marketing and business
plans, analyze financial performance, create strategies,
design safety programs, conduct consumer research,
and increase processing productivity.
Modernization of the college’s home base, Gamble
Hall, including the introduction of pioneering technology,
helps make UND a leader in developing managers who
understand the business of business, Elbert emphasizes.
The newest enhancement — made possible by an
early gift to the College’s $20 million capital
campaign — is the A. Kirk Lanterman Investment
Center. It offers hands-on training and exposure to
financial concepts such as portfolio construction,
risk management, financial engineering, trading strategies,
and corporate governance.
Another factor: the MBA is a convenient way for older
students to refocus their careers, including many
who did not major in business as undergraduates.
UND’s program is especially appealing to individuals
with full-time jobs who need to study part-time “at
a distance.” A majority of the program’s
79 part-time students are taking classes in Bismarck
and Dickinson through the Interactive Video Network.
“We’re very good at taking technically
competent people and moving them into management,”
Wambsganss said. “Our graduates have many positions
and responsibilities over their careers.”
Dave Goodin, class of 2002, is an example. “The
courses offered through the IVN program complemented
my undergraduate degree in engineering and helped
me grow into my current position as vice president
of operations for Montana-Dakota Utilities Company
and Great Plains Natural Gas Company,” he said.
One of the college’s most illustrious distance
education alumni of the MBA program is Larry Isaak,
now president of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact
headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn. He completed the
degree while working full time in Bismarck as chancellor
of the North Dakota University System.
More information on the MBA program is available
by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.