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Apr 11, 2022 2022-04 Business Administration Student

How you can make an online master’s program work for you

Learners don’t have to make trade-offs in order to have a personal and powerful experience in an online degree program. Those sacrifices are a thing of the past in certain programs that are intentionally designed to be online, according to Tawnya Means, Chief Learning Officer at Gies College of Business.

“The idea of ‘How do you, as an individual, feel when you’re participating in these courses?’ is really key to our success,” said Means. “If students felt like they were just a lost piece in this giant screen of people, it would be very challenging for them to feel a sense of connection. But because of some of the technologies [we utilize], we can help students feel like they’re a member of a more intimate group.”

Means and Executive Associate Dean Brooke Elliott recently sat down virtually with Poets&Quants Founder & Editor-In-Chief John Byrne to discuss the process of planning, designing, and delivering online graduate degree programs and just how Gies tailors its online programs for individuals all across the world. In the session, “Finding Your Fit: Maximizing Your Experience With An Online Program”, Elliott and Means delved into how Gies’ online programs are built around the needs of its students.

“Because the program was designed [to be] online,” said Elliott, “we made choices very early on to try to anticipate how we could facilitate students building those connections. We adopted Facebook Workplace from the very beginning, and we use it as our own social media platform. We have thousands of students and alumni, and they use it just like you and I — to make connections, share stories, share pictures of their new babies or weddings, and meet up.”

Elliott and Means both expressed their joy and satisfaction at the depth of the connections formed between online students since Gies launched the iMBA program six years ago. Now, Gies’ online programs have expanded to include a Master of Science in Accountancy (iMSA) and Master of Science in Management (iMSM). More than 5,500 students are currently enrolled in the three degree programs and iMBA student satisfaction sits at a remarkable 96%.

While many learners struggle with the idea of earning a degree online because of the expectation that something must be sacrificed to have such an accessible and impactful experience, learners at Gies don’t have to sacrifice anything. The College’s programs were built to provide flexibility and accessibility to folks from all walks of life, who want to further their education and change the course of their lives at an affordable cost. Whether you just graduated with your bachelor’s degree, you’re a parent, a full-time professional, or military personnel – Gies has options that can work for you and your career, they said.

As John Byrne remarked, there’s a certain type of individual who finds their way to Gies: “A combination of smarts and ambition and wanting to improve one’s life that makes them immediately want to connect with others.”

There are many such individuals who make up both the residential and online learner population at Gies. They’re students and alumni who came to the College wanting to make an impact and kickstart their success.

If you think you might be interested in hearing more about the Gies online programs and how they could be the right fit for you, Elliott had just one last piece of advice, “We believe in lifelong learning, and we have a team of great individuals who are ready to answer your questions. From admissions counselors to alumni, they’re all very involved in the process, so they can talk to you about the process and what it was like to be a student. So, just get started!”