Why You Are Paying More for Your MBA

The Lee Business School Evening MBA program is ranked 52nd nationally by Business Week.  This is a significant achievement and a testament to the dedicated LBS faculty and staff who create a high-quality student experience with far fewer resources than MBA programs at other institutions.  The cost for in-state students to complete our MBA program is less than half that for in-state students at our average peer institution and is less than a third of the cost of places like Arizona State and UCLA.

Even more impressive than our program’s ranking and affordability is the achievement of our MBA students. LBS MBAs have dominated regional as well as global competitions and our graduates have been at the forefront of entrepreneurship. Not to mention that when the Runnin’ Rebels take the floor this month their new coach sports an MBA from UNLV.  

But we can and must do better.  A city of two million people needs a world-class MBA program to help diversify and fuel its economy.  Through a series of cuts that have totaled about 40% of our budget, the State of Nevada has made it clear that it is not going to provide the resources to propel the University and its programs forward. Nonacademic areas have shouldered a disproportionate share of these cuts, but the MBA program has had to scale back staff and services to match our shrinking finances.   

The good news is that for the first time in UNLV’s history the State is giving us the opportunity to implement differential fees and have these revenues come back to the University rather than go into Nevada’s general fund.  The Board of Regents judged the needs of the MBA programs at UNLV and UNR to be so great that it approved a $100 per credit hour surcharge on all MBA courses at both institutions starting this spring semester. The revenues from this surcharge will not fill the entire hole left by the budget cuts, but it will allow us to invest in some much-needed infrastructure, help recruit and retain the best faculty to teach in the program, and improve graduates’ visibility in the community and with prospective employers.

It is my hope that these differential fees represent the first step on a short journey to self-sufficiency for the MBA program and the entire Lee Business School– a state of affairs where we would be responsible for our own programs, revenue generation, operating budgets and payroll.   Risk is inherent to any enterprise, but there is no down side to financial self-sufficiency.  Controlling our fate can only help us realize our aspirations: For far too long our destiny has been decided for us.  This new approach will require a greater partnership between faculty, students, staff and the business community.   But markets work and greater value creation will be rewarded with more national visibility, higher student demand, and greater opportunity for graduates.

So as you pay more for your MBA classes this semester know that it is an investment in your future.  Some of the changes financed by the new fees will be readily apparent this spring, with a new MBA student lounge and greater opportunities to meet local employers on campus in the works.  Other changes, including a revamped curriculum, higher admission standards, and block scheduling will likely roll out in the fall of 2012.  Five years from now, it is my goal to have your degree associated with a top twenty-five evening MBA program. If we can control our own financial destiny, such lofty goals are within our grasp.

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7 thoughts on “Why You Are Paying More for Your MBA

  1. A top 25 EMBA? That’s nice. What about the ‘normal’ MBA program? Where can I find information on placement statistics for UNLV’s MBA programs?

    • David:

      While a student can take enough credits in our evening MBA program to qualify as full-time, our program is designed for working professionals. We don’t have a “normal” full-time program where students stop working, enroll full-time, complete it in two years and then look for another job. Some of our dual students fall into this category (hotel, law dental), but they are full-time students in the partner program and complete their MBA in the evening.

      University career services provides data on outcomes for students who use their services. Again, because most of our students are working professionals looking to move up in their organization, demand for university career services is not especially high among this group. You can look at the reports on line at: http://hire.unlv.edu/reports.html

  2. I understand the grave financial problems UNLV has experienced over the past five years. I think highly of the College of Business and appreciate this blog immensely. However, I disagree with the rationale proposed in this post. A $100 per credit increase amounts to $600 per semester for a student taking a full graduate course (six credits). Obviously many students take more than six credits. My point is that this charge is about 33% of $1800 for a grad student taking six credits. Inflation was 1.91% in 1986 for the US. Clearly, this fee increase is outrageously high in this comparison (maybe not if you’re talking with Ben Bernanke). Even if you are going to propose a tuition hike it should be at a reasonable level that matches the benefits of the product and the income of your customers (students typically enrolling in this program at night). Which leads me to my next point, why are students being assessed a fee for a student lounge. I don’t think this is the main reason, but I couldn’t resist in bringing it up. UNLV just built a beautiful million dollar student union right next to the College of Business. There are about 500 students that attend the UNLV MBA program, and if every student takes six credits, this fee would amount to $300,000 per semester. Why does raising the admission standards involve a tuition hike? Are there fewer more qualified students being admitted? I’m not sure because the post didn’t go that far. Then there is a long twisting debate of tenure and recruiting top-notch faculty from across the country that have published in the best journals. I applaud the College of Business faculty and think that the program has done a fine job at getting and retaining some of the brightest in the country, in all disciplines in the College. The product at UNLV has always been progressing, in good times and bad. Some of the most innovative programs were conceived during turbulent financial times. The students are the customers of the UNLV brand, and the benefits of this fee increase do not seem to be on par with the financial cost. Look at Netflix, BOA, and Verizon, all of which assessed fees for their products and failed at trying to “improve” their companies. The economy is still in sorry shape and that’s all the more reason to retain and attract students with formidable backgrounds to the program, and avoid pushing students on the edge of financial stability in to taking out student loans. UNLV graduates have always competed against UCLA and schools in Arizona. We’ve competed with excellence, and you’ve pointed this out many times in your posts. I just wish there was more thought put in to these financial decisions. It’s always hard to see the point of the view from the customer standpoint but keep this in mind, professors and administrators may be the board of directors, but ultimately it is the customers (users) who make the company what it is –-metaphorically speaking.

    • Jasper:

      This is a lot to react to in your comment and I’m not going to be able to do it all justice in this reply. Let me make four quick points. The budget cuts the university has faced reduced our state support for programs like the MBA very significantly, resulting in reductions in our staff and scope of activities. Without the differential fee, we simply cannot offer the Scope of activities and types of services MBA programs need to be competitive (e.g. Career services, co- curricular activities, etc.) Second, students are not being charged a fee for a lounge, like they are to use the wellness center. We are simply using some of the money this year for infrastructure improvements that will help give our students a greater sense of belonging to a program. Next year those monies will go to help fund other improvements. Third, 15 percent of the fee is set-aside for student financial aid to help those students in need. Finally, the fee increase is part of a general strategy to improve the program’s national ranking that includes curriculum reform and higher admission standards as well as better student services. No one likes to pay more for something, but the UNLV MBA program is a very good buy and we believe that wise use of these new resources will make it an even better value going forward by enhancing the reputation of the degree.

  3. Dean Jarley, Thank you for your reply. It’s a very emotional subject for students and I appreciate your time. I like many others care a lot about the program and only want to see it grow. Maybe the phrasing of having some reservations would have been better suited in terms of my disagreements. Either way, I look forward to progress I think is the underlining notion. I am very hopeful.

    • Thanks. I understand that we are placing additional financial burden on students and we do not do this lightly. In the end, it is on all of our shoulders to improve the value of the program and rest assured the faculty and staff are working very hard toward that goal. With a great group of dedicated students, I know we will get there…

  4. I’m in Dayton Ohio right now paying $833.33 per credit, and there’s hardly anything around this school until you get to down town. In Vegas as an undergrad, there was a grocery store, Target, tailor, and dry cleaner within a block away from me. I’d gladly transfer back to UNLV to continue my MBA at the rates you guys/gals are paying and the amenities nearby. You’re frankly spoiled. Oh, and the EMBA thing is quite common. While most students will not be executives and would prefer to go earlier in the day, it doesn’t stop schools from structuring their program to cater to potential executives in the hope of one day becoming known for it. My hunch is that most of the motivation is due to limited facilities and the undergrads hogging up daytime space. Does UNLV accept transfer credits from MBAs? 😉

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