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Not Your Typical MBA

Many MBA courses have certain focus areas or repeated themes — like "positions and interests" in negotiations, comparing "investment opportunities of similar risk" in finance, the four (or five) P’s in marketing. But how often do you hear about creative problem solving or learning to think innovatively? These are not as common to MBA programs. But Boise State's online MBA program is different. While the program includes those standard finance and marketing courses, you will find that innovation and creativity are concepts that are woven through nearly every online MBA course at Boise State.

Innovation isn't an idle word here. Rather, it's a theme throughout the entire MBA program – so much so that even President Obama commented on the pervasiveness of innovation at Boise State during a recent visit to the school.

At Boise State, students learn to solve big, messy problems — real-world problems – in areas that are of interest to them. By completing application projects in an industry of their choice, they remain better engaged in the work and able to grow their knowledge of their preferred industry.

Design thinking

From the very beginning of the MBA program, you know it's different. The first class you will take, aside from a refresher course in basic business principles, is on design thinking. You will study the innovation processes that are transforming businesses, and begin to understand how corporate strategies are created at all levels of a company. You will also get an overview of organizational design, diversification, mergers and acquisitions, and measures of strategic performance.

Put simply, design thinking uses a designer's sensibility to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and create a business strategy to capitalize on market opportunities. Innovation and design thinking will become increasingly important as entrepreneurs and others look not only to develop and market new processes, but also new processes, services and ways of communicating and collaborating. Consider that tomorrow's top jobs may not even exist today. By studying design thinking through Boise's online MBA program, you will be well-prepared to adapt and respond to rapidly evolving business trends.

Heavy emphasis on project work

You may think that because you are in an online program, you will have little interaction with your classmates. At Boise State, the opposite is true: Project work and collaboration are hallmarks of almost every course in the online MBA program, including the design thinking course. In that class, students are expected to complete both individual and team assignments each week, culminating in a final paper and PowerPoint presentation that is completed as a team.

In addition to design thinking, your online MBA coursework will include classes in marketing strategy, people and organizations, corporate finance, global economics, managerial accounting, managerial communication, information technology, legal issues in business, operations and supply chain management, and business plan development. In many of these courses, students are required to apply classroom knowledge to the completion of individual and team projects that simulate real-world business situations.

Collaboration between business and engineering schools

At Boise State, engineering and business go hand-in-hand. That is another way that Boise State's MBA program is different. Boise State's College of Business and Economics (COBE) offers a number of innovative programs and partnerships through which students can gain valuable real-world experience. Below are some examples:

  • The New Product Development Lab is housed in the engineering school and managed by COBE. Each year, about 100 businesses and inventors come to the lab for help in making prototypes or designing parts for new businesses. The lab helps companies and inventors figure out how to design a product using 3-D printing prototypes.
  • The Centre for Creativity and Innovation (CCI) at Boise State acts as a catalyst for creative collaboration through research, community engagement and teaching. Among other things, the CCI offers workshops year-round through a speaker series, allowing participants to grow professionally and personally by learning from the latest research and experts from around the world.
  • The College of Innovation and Design leverages the speed, collaboration and risk-taking of a start-up to re-imagine the way teaching, learning and research is conducted at Boise State. Through the college, faculty members cross traditional disciplinary boundaries to create new degrees and certificates to respond to the demand of the workforce of tomorrow.
  • Operating as a student and community outreach unit within COBE, the Center for Entrepreneurship aims to develop and encourage entrepreneurship through academic programs, research and community outreach.
  • The TECenter at Boise State serves as an incubator for start-up companies. Since its creation in 2003, the TECenter has incubated more than 100 companies, establishing more than 450 full-time jobs, raising more than $20 million in capital and creating more than $80 million in annual revenues. The TECenter aims to help innovative, scalable businesses that are just starting out. In addition to consultation with TECenter staff and small business experts, the TECenter offers a number of resources to participating companies. These include meeting rooms; mailbox; printing, internet and phone services, and a kitchen, lounge and patio.

Offering interdisciplinary and community partnerships such as these and innovative classwork that encourages collaboration and real-world application of skills, Boise State's online MBA is certainly not your typical MBA.

Learn more about Boise State’s online MBA program.


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