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Charleston Business

A Guide to MBAs in South Carolina

Oct 14, 2019 02:47PM
By Leigh Savage

While fewer people are applying to MBA programs nationwide, most South Carolina programs are reporting growth. 

Jennifer Ninh, managing director of full-time MBA programs at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, says full-time program enrollment nationwide is typically tied to the economy.

“There can be a hesitation in the market, because people have to quit their job in a good economy and take two years off,” she says. “Then when the economy dips, enrollment goes up.”

The Graduate Management Admission Council, after surveying more than 1,000 schools, found that 70 percent reported a decline in application volume this year. The U.S. saw an overall dip of 6.6 percent. 

Full-time MBAs are still most popular, GMAC reports, but online MBA programs are getting more applications every year. QS, a higher education network, found that 24.5 percent of all MBA applicants consider online study. South Carolina schools have responded to this need, with most offering online and hybrid options, including Clemson University, which is launching its first online MBA class this fall. 

Even in a strong economy, research shows that getting an MBA can offer a lot of bang for your buck. The GMAC’s Business School Hiring Report found that the median annual base starting salary companies are offering new MBA hires is $115,000—more than double the median for new bachelor’s degree hires, $55,000. This year marked the highest ever recorded in the U.S. for MBA grads. 

Ninh tells potential applicants that getting the degree now, while the economy is strong, can change your career trajectory, and then when the economy dips, “You’re already set up.”

Here is a closer look at some of the state’s larger programs:

University of South Carolina
The Darla Moore School of Business offers three MBA programs: an accelerated 10-month MBA, the International MBA and a Professional MBA, which takes 28 months but offers flexibility so students can keep their jobs and salaries. 

The International MBA program is world-renowned, and once again earned the No. 1 spot on the U.S. News and World Report list of best International MBA Programs, beating out Harvard, Georgetown, and Columbia. 

The accelerated MBA has seen the most growth, nearly doubling this year, Ninh says. The International MBA program has a few more students than last year, making up about three-quarters of the school’s approximately 70 MBA students. The accelerated and international MBA programs require in-person coursework, while the professional degree is the most flexible option, allowing a mix of in-person coursework and video lectures.

“It’s exciting, because it’s the 100th anniversary of the business school, and when I’m recruiting, I can show the history of the business school and all of the success we’ve had being at the top of our field,” she says. 

MBA program fees for 2018-2019 were $35,702, spread into payments throughout the length of the program. 

Clemson University 
Clemson’s MBA program has grown by 70 percent in the past five years, according to Dr. Greg Pickett, director of Clemson MBA programs. The school offers several options, including full and part-time in-person options, online programs and those that combine online study with residency weekends.

“Our online program launched this fall, 2019, to strong demand,” Pickett said. Almost 100 students are expected to participate in the completely remote degree program. After it was announced in February of 2018, the school got 630 inquiries from 28 states and abroad. 

The curriculum varies from 36 to 49 credit hours, with elective areas including supply chain and information management, business analytics, human resources, services science, entrepreneurship and innovation management and international business. 

The cost is $833 per credit hour. 

“Our alumni are highly sought-after as evidenced by a 95 percent placement rate,” Pickett says, adding that students in the MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation program have successfully launched more than 80 new businesses since 2012. 

The College of Charleston
Ron Magnuson, director of MBA and Professional Programs for the School of Business at the College of Charleston, says his program is growing, with 48 students in a program that will cap at 50. The program is an 11-month accelerated degree that requires on-campus coursework.

“Our value proposition is unique,” he says. ”We focus on ROI, appropriate for a business school.” He says the investment of $27,000 and 11 months leads to strong returns for students, who get access to an executive mentoring program, coaching on professional development skills, career development workshops, international trips and more. All students pay the in-state rate, and the program has been ranked No. 1 in the country for its job placement rate by U.S. News and World Report. 

More ways to get your MBA:

Anderson University: Named No. 27 on the list of best values among regional universities in the South, Anderson offers an MBA that can cost as low as $19,400, including books. It has seven starts through the year and can be completed in 20 months or less. The program offers seated classes in Greenville, 100 percent online or hybrid. The MBA focuses on management and leadership within a framework of Christian ethics. 

The Citadel: This MBA program offers flexible options designed for working professionals and active-duty military members. Classes are taught in the evening and online, and students can choose 100 percent online distance learning. 

Winthrop University: Winthrop’s MBA program offers a flexible format and a variety of emphasis options, including accounting, finance, human resources and marketing. Though it is located in Rock Hill, the school offers in-state tuition for Charlotte residents and draws many Charlotte-area professionals.Tuition per semester for full-time in-state students is $7,659.

Coastal Carolina University: The MBA at CCU offers online, in-class and hybrid options and can be completed in one year. The school also offers a health care administration certificate or concentration along with the MBA. Graduate tuition per semester for in-state students is $598 per credit hour.

North Greenville University: This MBA program, designed for working professionals, offers both full time and part-time program options and features a biblical perspective throughout the curriculum. It offers a specialized concentration in human resources. 

University of South Carolina Aiken: This school offers a 100 percent online MBA with tuition as low as $14,000. It can be completed in as little as 12 months and offers a general MBA as well as specializations in accounting, finance and project management.

Charleston Southern University: With eight emphases to choose from and a faith-based approach, CSU has been offering the MBA for more than 25 years. The time frame varies from 17 to 45 months and costs approximately $550 per credit hour. 

Francis Marion University: This 30-hour, 10-course  program begins in summer or fall, and offers both online instruction at your own pace and in-person instruction. The accelerated schedule allows completion of the program in 15 months. Each class has at least two on-campus Saturday meetings. 

S.C. State University: This MBA program offers an accelerated one-year general MBA as well as concentrations in agribusiness, entrepreneurship and health care management. It offers evening and weekend classes and traditional, online and hybrid coursework.