When you’re creating a new graduate business program from scratch, “at first you really think you have this blank slate,” says Myra Gonzalez, director of the new Flex Online MBA program at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, which begins in fall 2024. “But you really don’t in the world of the MBA, because there’s so much of that business acumen that is already expected and required.
“And so,” she says, holding her forefinger and thumb close together, “you have about this much room for innovation, truly.”
The innovation, Gonzalez tells Poets&Quants, is in working with industry, identifying their needs, and tailoring the curriculum to try to meet them.
“What we found out is, we are preparing for the future of work, which we have no idea what that is,” she says. “We’re preparing people for jobs that don’t exist yet — a whole new world. So we are trying to factor some of that into the curriculum with just basic data literacy, technology literacy, and really being open to things that are available and possible through technology. That’s been a fun exploration.”
LEVERAGING A MASSIVE NETWORK OF HALF A MILLION GLOBALLY
The new Flex Online MBA at Texas A&M’s Mays School is the latest, and biggest, announcement for a school with a suddenly diverse online portfolio. In addition to its established Flex Online Master of Science in Accounting and Master of Science in Management Information Systems programs, two more online programs — a Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Master of Science in Marketing — are expected to launch along with the new OMBA next fall.
If all goes as expected — the MS in Marketing, like the Flex OMBA, is still pending approval, a fact of life for a public university, Gonzalez says — the newest online MBA program at a top-40 B-school in the United States will begin in August. The 16-month, 49-credit-hour program will be primarily asynchronous but will feature live weekly online cohort sessions; there will also be a small in-person element early in the program. The curriculum, says Jerry Strawser, associate dean for graduate programs, was designed for working professionals to upskill and reskill for the future of work.
“The Flex Online MBA program will provide the benefits of a Mays MBA to students on their schedule and at their location,” Strauser says. “This program will strengthen the Aggie network through a new source of MBA graduates who exhibit the Aggie core values as they become leaders in the business world.”
The Aggie Network hardly needs strengthening; it is, by itself, a major draw for Mays’ new Flex OMBA. More than 40,000 Mays School alumni are working around the world, part of a vast network of more than half a million Texas A&M graduates.
“Our new Flex Online MBA program will retain all the best elements of our full-time MBA program, including our renowned faculty and industry-driven curriculum,” Shrihari (Hari) Sridhar, senior associate dean of Mays Business School, and Nate Sharp, new dean of Texas A&M, say in a statement provided to P&Q. “It is designed to be a world-class online experience with content that is custom-designed for today’s online learner. At the heart of our program are the same Aggie Core Values that define our university and our graduates. The Flex Online MBA Program offers a fantastic way for future business leaders around the globe to experience Mays Business School and become part of Texas A&M University’s famous ‘Aggie Network’ of more than 500,000 former students.
“In addition, the Flex Online MBA program is part of Mays Business School’s new Flex Online portfolio, which also includes Master’s of Science degree programs in Accounting, Management Information Systems, Human Resource Management, and Marketing. Our diverse Flex Online portfolio offers graduates the ability to access a large number of electives to obtain an education that fits perfectly with their customized needs.”
LOOKING FOR ‘STRONG ACADEMIC FOLKS’
Applicants to the Mays Flex OMBA will need to submit a score from either the Graduate Management Admission Test or the Graduate Record Exam. Minimum requirements for admission are two years of work experience and a bachelor’s degree. Currently, prospective students can submit an “expression of interest” with their resume and unofficial transcripts, and qualified candidates will be offered interviews.
Demand, says Myra Gonzalez, is expected to be high, so she urges interested individuals to submit an expression of interest as soon as possible. On a November weekend soon after the Mays School announced the new program, she says she received four to five expressions of interest, and “to the layman, that may not sound like a lot, but in MBA world that’s kind of cool!” Target class size for the first cohort is 100 students, she says.
The ideal student for the Mays Flex OMBA is “someone with at least two years of full-time work experience,” Gonzalez says. “Typically, 3.5 cumulative GPA or better. If not with a 3.5, then a top 25% GRE or GMAT. We’re looking for very strong academic folks because our program is compact and fast-paced.” The program is cohort-based, so it will take a full 16 months to complete. “We’re looking for the best of both worlds. We hear students tell us they want to get in and get out and get that return on investment as soon as possible.”
What does she expect that first cohort to look like? About 12% of the prospects she’s been working with have been international, Gonzalez says, and 22% are from the Dallas-Forth Worth area.
“I know that I want diversity in the classroom,” says Gonzalez, who earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Texas A&M and has spent more than 20 years working for the school. “I definitely value that. Having run an analytics program here at the university, I like the different flavor and things that that brings to the classroom. But I don’t have specific goals or anything like that.”
Find out more about the Texas A&M Mays new Flex Online MBA here. See a Q&A with Director Myra Gonzalez on the next page.