In this fast-paced, work-'til-you-drop business world, a small educational fix can do a lot of good. For lifelong learners, short-term, squeeze-it-into-my-busy-life professional-development courses can be just the ticket. But busy professionals want—and demand—courses that actually do what they should: boost personal and professional growth while providing new know-ledge or skills for employers.
With that in mind, the University of St. Thomas Graduate School of Business in Minneapolis created a unique offering called the Mini mba. This series of professional development programs includes coursework in franchise management, e-commerce and international management, among other areas, and classes are designed for technical professionals, government managers and other working adults.
Every Mini mba is different: One meets for one three-hour session (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) each week for 14 weeks; another consists of two modules in which students meet for two days from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with each module held during a different month; and the Leading Growing Companies program consists of five modules in which students meet for two days from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every month for five months. Tuition, depending on the program, ranges from $1,500 to $2,700.
"These programs are designed around the idea of engaging the professions," says George Heenan, executive fellow and director of the St. Thomas School of Business Institute for Strategic Management.
"The idea is for people to take ideas and implement them. It's a way of taking people who are currently in business and have a particular need and bringing them rapidly up to date."
The Mini mba program was implemented in 1974 with one general mba covering the core elements of business administration. The program now includes more than 14 Mini mbas. "They are all geared toward the practitioner, the person in either business or an organization," says George Meyer, director of professional development centers. "We draw a lot of people from the "nonprofit sector" who want to be in our programs to mix with the for-profit sector. They come to sharpen their skills. Many come with an eye toward deciding whether or not to take a traditional mba program."
Mini mba programs will be offered in an online learning mode in the future, according to Meyers. For now, however, students have to travel to the St. Thomas campus to participate. Some of the Mini mba programs, such as the one for international management and another for environmental professionals, have been compressed into one-week programs to accommodate international business people who come to Minneapolis to learn from St. Thomas faculty.
The St. Thomas Graduate School of Business is recognized as offering the fourth largest mba program in the United States, according to Heenan. "It really has been developed because of a strong faculty with good ties to the business community, along with focused programs and classes that people find very helpful."