Michigan Big MBA

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is making its big splash into the fast-growing online MBA market. The school has picked a tech vendor, put a price tag on the degree, launched a marketing blitz with a pair of slick videos and is now recruiting students for its first cohort to start this fall.

The University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School launched its Master of Accounting program 30 years ago, and has had a steady enrollment of about 130 students each year — until this year, when enrollment jumped by nearly 100.

The change began in 2015, when Kenan-Flagler began offering the MAC online. Amy Wittmayer, managing director of the program, says the school hoped the move would bring the program a more diverse set of students, from recent grads to working professionals to current and former members of the military. In its inaugural year, 12 online students enrolled in Kenan-Flagler’s MAC program.

The next year there were 95, and Wittmayer says they intend to keep growing.

“This is expansion mode for us,” she says. “We are about opening new doors to talent that we were never able to tap into. This is about us serving people who didn’t have options in quality graduate accounting education.”

MANY MAC STUDENTS ALSO GET MBAs

The program’s application deadline for its first intake is May 20, though Ross is promising decisions within six to eight weeks from the date a candidate submits an application. To start, the school aims to enroll a class of 60 online students, with the majority of them from outside Ross’ home state. The online courses will be taught by Ross faculty who teach in its residential MBA programs.

The MAC program is a graduate business degree that focuses on accounting, taking a deeper dive into the subject than an undergraduate program would. “Many undergraduate accounting students still progress to a graduate accounting degree, largely to satisfy many states’ requirements to be licensed as a CPA,” Wittmayer says.

Though the MAC does include general business training in leadership and communication, Wittmayer stresses that it’s not an MBA. In fact, she says, many of Kenan-Flagler’s online students are actually doubling up and getting both the MAC and an MBA.
MORE VARIETY ONLINE

On-campus, Wittmayer says, students are fairly uniform — around 24 years old and mostly early-career. Since the on-campus program is specifically geared toward non-accounting undergraduates, many have decided to become accountants after working for a year or two in a different field.
The most common story, Wittmayer says, is that students know they want to pursue a business career and feel like the MBA is the most broad and versatile degree. But as they complete their MBA, they discover that they love accounting, and consider getting a MAC as well.

“The benefit of the MBA is its versatility, but an MBA does not promise subject matter depth or a direct path into a profession,” she says. “The MAC program goes deeper into the accounting field, teaches deep technical knowledge, a recognized skill, and a path to a formal designation.”

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