Amy Allendorf is that rare graduate student who can tell you what it's like to go back to school part time and full time "” she did both on the way to her MBA.

"I prefer full time," says Allendorf, a project manager with Toyota North American Motor Manufacturing. "Not only do you get the benefits of [not juggling school and work], but ... you can really dig deep into the information that you're learning."

After starting her MBA studies part time at Xavier University in 2001, Allendorf applied for a scholarship and was able to continue as a full-time student from 2002 to graduation in 2003. Though her route was atypical, it illustrates how accommodating programs have become for the convenience of their students.

"Today's adult students are more sophisticated," says Brad Grubb, regional director for Indiana Wesleyan University's new West Chester campus. "They demand convenience and top-notch instruction."

The Tristate offers MBA programs that fit the bill. A key objective for prospective MBA students should be "to find a program format that meets your lifestyle," observes Jennifer Bush, executive director of the MBA program at Xavier, which got a nod in the Princeton Review's listing of the 143 best business schools.

"Not always, but for the most part students have come from a four-year traditional undergraduate program" as their last school experience, Bush says. "So this may be the first time they've worked and gone to school at the same time."

To make it less complicated for students, Xavier offers evening classes, online classes, an executive MBA program, and Saturdays-only classes for those who can't go to school during the week. The university also features "a nice transfer policy" and no penalty for taking a semester off.

Craig Cuchra will earn his MBA in about three years instead of two, as he's taken off summers to stay true to his golf game. The Sara Lee Foods assistant brand manager says the Xavier program is focused but flexible, allowing students to work at their own pace.

Cuchra says the work, which added up to about 14 hours of weekly homework and class time, was made easier by having an accessible faculty. "The professors at Xavier are realists in that they understand that most students work during the day and they make every effort to make themselves available to students at any time during the week."

Such individual attention from faculty and staff is another plus to look for in MBA programs. It's why Chris Bokelman chose Northern Kentucky University for his general MBA degree.

"Teachers matter so much, in their experience and availability," Bokelman says. The faculty's business experience brings a three-dimensional quality to the studies: "What you learn in class you could use the next day at work."

This is the 25th anniversary of NKU's program, notes Bob Salyer, dir-ector of the MBA program. The program admits students in the fall, spring, or summer, he says, and most of the students work full time and attend school part time in the evening.

Indiana Wesleyan University is new to Cincinnati "” its campus is in West Chester "” although its MBA program dates back to 1985. The MBA is of-fered through its College of Adult Professional Studies.

Indiana Wesleyan's MBA classes are accelerated, where much information is condensed into six-to-11-week classes, Grubb says. There are no semesters or quarters and MBA groups of at least 14 students can begin anytime.

The first MBA class on the West Chester campus began in October with 16 students. A general MBA takes about two years to complete.

Classes meet one night per week for four hours, making scheduling easier for working professionals, says Terri Staley, program representative and MBA student at Indiana Wesleyan's Cincinnati education center.

Students in the MBA program don't have to go to the bookstore for their books; instead, the books are sent to them in time for the first class. Along with their books come the courses' study guides and assignment due dates, Staley points out.

Indiana Wesleyan's MBA faculty members have at least a master's degree and are active members of the business world, Grubb notes.

Another accelerated MBA program to enter into the fray will be offered by Miami University. Slated to begin in May 2005, the full-time program will be the first in a new generation of MBAs offered by the school.

Miami's MBA program has, in effect, taken off the 2004-2005 school year to be retooled, with a veteran of the global business world at the helm. It's a novel approach, one that many schools would not have the luxury to do, says Brad Bays, who "” having retired after 24 years at Procter & Gamble "” has taken on the directorship of Miami's MBA programs.

But it underscores the university's desire to upgrade and recharge its graduate program, says Bays, himself a Miami University graduate. "Miami as a university has focused on its undergraduate programs," says Bays, adding that its undergrad business school has played a considerable part in Miami's respected reputation.

Aiming to achieve that high standard, the redrafted MBA program will offer unique and progressive applied learning features.

For starters, the new program will be designed around key work processes, Bays observes. So instead of presenting business disciplines individually for study, the coursework will present an integrated view of them. For example, when considering something like new product design, students will study marketing, finance, and supply chain together.

The program also will be experiential, Bays adds. Every week students will be in class for four days and work with a partner company on the fifth, putting what they've learned to immediate use to get "full exposure to the global marketplace."