Unique program will advance school goals

Guest post by Dr. Clifton T. Jones, Dean of the School of Business Administration at USC Aiken and a member of the Mill on Park Advisory Council.

There is a buzz in the air in Aiken these days, as many local residents and businesses are excited about the growing interest in enhancing the economic vitality of our community through a renewed interest in entrepreneurship.

At USC Aiken, we want to help our fellow residents fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. Many of our alumni fall in love with Aiken while they are attending college here and choose to remain in town after they graduate from USC Aiken.

About 5 out of 6 of our graduates do not earn a business degree, yet many of them end up working in a business capacity in their organization or starting their own business.

Often, these graduates realize that it would be beneficial for them to return to school and get some formal training in modern business skills. Earning a Masters in Business Administration, or MBA, would help them to advance in their current organization or give them the background needed to be successful in starting their own business.

To help meet this need in our community, the School of Business Administration at USC Aiken has developed an innovative new MBA program designed exclusively for non-business students in the Aiken area. Pending final approval from our accreditation agency, the MBA for STEM and Liberal Arts will admit its first class for the Spring 2015 semester.

A part-time evening MBA program that can be completed in two calendar years, classes will be held on weekday evenings on the USC Aiken campus. In contrast with traditional MBA programs, which usually require non-business students to take a number of introductory business classes before beginning their MBA program, the MBA for STEM and Liberal Arts will integrate this introductory material into the required coursework. Admitted students will begin their MBA coursework from the start, without any required foundation or “catch-up” courses.

While there is no shortage of MBA programs available through various forms of distance learning these days, many people would prefer to earn their MBA via a face-to-face method of instruction. The MBA for STEM and Liberal Arts will be the first opportunity for Aiken residents to earn an MBA in a traditional classroom setting without having to drive to another town. As students proceed through the program, there will also be opportunities for them to engage in real-world projects with local businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly those who have offices in the new Mill on Park in downtown Aiken.

Finally, the MBA for STEM and Liberal Arts will also have a separate optional track for those non-business students with strong quantitative skills from one of the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering or mathematics). This STEM track is designed for students who are employed in technical organizations or manufacturing firms, with an emphasis on supply chain management and project management skills.

The School of Business Administration at USC Aiken recognizes the importance of enhancing the economic vitality of Aiken. We believe that bringing this unique new MBA program to Aiken will help to advance that goal and accelerate the new wave of entrepreneurship in our town.