Cohort of 39 students begins Olin’s new online MBA program

  • February 18, 2022
  • By Jill Young Miller
  • 3 minute read

Olin took online learning up a notch in January: We enrolled our first cohort for Olin’s new online MBA.

Of the 39 students enrolled, 46% are female. Some 38% come from outside of St. Louis. In all, the students were born in 10 different countries, and they represent 31 companies.

Some of those companies are Bayer, Boeing, Bristol Myers Squibb, Chevron, Edward Jones, Google, Mastercard, Nike, Phillips 66, Schnucks, Washington University in St. Louis and World Wide Technology.

“I’m really excited about the diversity and the quality of the class,” said Patrick Moreton, professor of practice in strategy and management and the academic director for the online MBA program.

“This is a seasoned group of professionals working for a wide variety of really good companies. They bring a lot of experience to the discussions in the synchronous sessions, and the reports I’m getting from the faculty are that they are eager to share.”  

‘My experience has been great’

Olin’s program stands apart from other online MBAs with its focus: To prepare students for leadership in a digitally enabled world. The degree is specifically for those who want to use technology as a strategic advantage.

“So far, my experience has been great,” said student Sophia Richards, who is from Jamaica and lives in St. Louis. She is especially pleased, she said, “with the lessons on leveraging technology across business and the lessons on the value of understanding data, creating meaningful data and above all respecting the value of data.” 

Andrew Knight, professor of organizational behavior, said he is “blown away by the quality of students and the diversity of their past and current career experiences. These ingredients have led to rich asynchronous discussions online and boisterous, vibrant conversations during our live sessions.

“Students are already proving to be invaluable resources for one another,” he said. “It’s been a true joy to see this program come to life through this impressive cohort.”

Also this semester, Olin launched its online MS in Business Analytics. Nineteen students enrolled, including from the US Air Force and US Army. In all, they represent 14 companies, among them Amazon, Bayer, Centene, Edward Jones, Mastercard, WashU, Schnucks and Merck.

The value of online learning

When Mark Taylor became dean of the school in late 2016, he thought it was too late for Olin to enter the online MBA market because it seemed overcrowded. In fact, in 2016 US News published a list of 225 programs in the United States alone.

“All institutions have been forced into teaching online,” he told Poets & Quants in May 2021. “It has changed the perception of the value of online learning. The pace of acceptance and use of digital technology will be much faster because of the pandemic.”

Artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and the internet of things continue to reshape the delivery of products and services, and the online MBA meets the moment. The 30-month program uses prerecorded content mixed with interactive live sessions that focus on discussions.

Another exciting part of the online MBA is the Digital Impact Project, which is a journey of sorts. Students will use the skills and knowledge they’re gaining to develop a high-potential digital initiative. They will choose a focus—their current organization, an emerging technology, an industry segment—and create a project aspiration statement.

Each semester, they’ll apply new thinking and lessons learned from their courses. At the program’s end, they will have codified their learnings into a plan with the potential to make a difference in an organization, business or society.

About the Author

Jill Young Miller

Jill Young Miller

As research translator for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to highlight professors’ research by “translating” their work into stories. Before coming to Olin, I was a communications specialist at WashU’s Brown School. My background is mostly in newspapers including as a journalist for Missouri Lawyers Media, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida.

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