Cincinnati State & Technical College started a renewable energy major, expecting 10 students. The college got 50.

At Xavier University, there’s growing interest in the MBA-plus program, which gives those who already have the advanced degree add-on certification in highly desirable areas such as marketing, finance or eBusiness.

Miami University’s popular 14-month MBA program sends students overseas for six weeks to work with employers in Vietnam, China and Spain.

All across Greater Cincinnati, higher education is adapting to student and global needs with innovative business programs. That means that full-time workers who want to study business only on Friday nights and Saturdays can find a degree or certificate program that fits.

And those who don’t want to travel to the big campuses for traditional business programs can find quality alternatives at smaller schools or satellite campuses.

For many professionals, earning a master’s degree in business administration has become a sort of rite of passage for entering into the upper echelons of the corporate world. Southwest Ohio has some of the top “B Schools” in the country, including Miami’s Farmer School, Xavier’s Williams College and The University of Cincinnati’s College of Business.

Anya Carl-Heinbaugh sought this kind of experience. She had been working as a healthcare provider and wanted to transition into an administrative role.

“I had a solid background in providing clinical care and working in a hospital, but needed the business expertise and credentials to complete the package,” says Carl-Heinbaugh, who earned her master’s at UC. “Getting my MBA gave me the knowledge and credibility I needed to move to the next level.”

Sure, an advanced business degree often opens the door to a corner office. But Carl-Heinbaugh is like many people who can’t or don’t want to bow out of the workplace for the two years that full-time MBA programs usually require. She earned her MBA in UC’s part-time program over two and a half years.

It was like taking on a second job, Carl-Heinbaugh says. “I used to say ‘MBA is religion.’ You don’t see much of friends and family, and you make sacrifices to get the job done. I got less sleep and more gray hair, but it was well worth it.”

Ramping up global experience, ethics

While most of the MBA programs in Greater Cincinnati are traditional general-focus degrees, they cover important aspects of doing business today, including international trade and ethics education.

Miami University’s global consultancy program is a hands-on way for students to learn the finer points of global business, in addition to an international markets course, according to Brad Bays, MBA director. “For the final six weeks of the 14-month program, all of our students work on a project in an overseas country with a partner company,” he notes.

The students live and work in teams of two to three per company. In 2008, Miami had four such teams in Vietnam and China, and five teams spread across five other countries.

Xavier also has a strong international business program, and in 2008 sent six to seven groups of students on trips to Korea, Japan, Jordan, Egypt, China and other destinations.

UC and Northern Kentucky University offer international business courses as well, but they are not a required part of the coursework. UC has partnerships with many colleges overseas for exchange programs and semesters abroad.

In the wake of numerous corporate scandals, such as the Enron debacle, many educators believe it’s increasingly important to emphasize ethics. Xavier, for example, is opening the Cintas Center for Cooperation for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility.

“We are developing a concentration in business ethics and a trip next year to focus on that area,” says Jennifer Bush, MBA program director. “For Xavier, being a Jesuit Roman-Catholic university, ethics are profoundly important. It isn’t just one class — it’s in every class.”

MBAs are now just a slice of the expanding pie of higher education options for business professionals seeking to advance or shift career paths.

University of Cincinnati

At UC, continuing educationmeans vast options for people at any education level. For example, UC’s Raymond Walters and Clermont campuses offer certificates in areas such as business management technology, sales/marketing and accounting.

UC Clermont has 300 students in continuing education, says spokesman Glenda Neff. Its online certificate programs, now a year old, include information technology and medical billing and coding.

“People like to see industry certificates, something in addition to the college credit or certificate,” Neff notes. “They like to see something that applies in the industry.”

For businesses, UC Clermont staff now can transport their computer lab to a firm’s site for continuing ed. “They take wireless laptops to a business and do instruction onsite for groups as small as six,” Neff explains.

Meanwhile, UC’s College of Business is best known for its real estate, entrepreneurship and finance education, with an array of undergraduate degrees, plus the MBA and master’s of science degrees in business.

The specialized business master’s degrees offer concentrations such as marketing, taxes and quantitative analysis. The latter, called MSQA, combines operations research, management science and applied statistics, using applied mathematics and computer applications. These degrees, which can be completed in nine months, are in high demand because they can lead to senior analyst positions at major firms. Among companies that have recently hired UC grads are Wal-Mart, Merck and LexisNexis.

“The MBA program is geared toward students who might be coming to the program from a different background,” clarifies Wendy Beckman, a public information officer at UC. “It’s a generalist degree for students who need to learn about lots of areas, like finance and marketing.” The MS option is for people who already have a business degree and want to specialize.


Beckfield College offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in various areas including business administration, criminal justice, health information technology and paralegal studies. Students have the option of morning, evening and Saturday classes and can earn a college degree with just three classes a week.

Cincinnati State

Though Cincinnati State is a community college, credits earned in most of the innovative programming transfer to four-year schools. Course times here are among the most flexible for working people, and convenient, just off Interstate 75 near Downtown.

Some new business education programs include the renewable energy major that has attracted so much attention, a hospitality management program and bookkeeping technology, says Michelle Imhoff, the college’s public information director.

The most popular multimedia business programs include graphic and media design, and video production, Imhoff says.

Cincinnati State’s workforce development center has certificates in safety hazmat and industrial maintenance that are taking off, she says. The school is adding more certification classes in health care, including nursing training and emergency medical services for professionals needing to keep up their credentials.


Greater Cincinnati’s newest addition to higher education is Kaplan College, part of the $2 billion international education company, Kaplan Inc., a subsidiary of the Washington Post Co. Kaplan offers both certificate and degree programs (undergraduate and graduate) through campus and online instruction. Kaplan Higher Education claims to be one of the largest for-profit providers of postsecondary education in the country, with about 68,000 students at more than 70 campuses.

Kaplan began here in May at a building in Queensgate, offering programs in medical billing/coding, medical assistant and electrical technician. Executive Director Bill Bradford says Kaplan plans to soon offer an associate’s degree in criminal justice.

The Cincinnati location will allow students to connect to Kaplan University, where they can earn other traditional degrees through online instruction. Kaplan has invested $2 million so far in its Cincinnati location, and has hired more than 20 full-time faculty and staff.

Miami University

Miami University’s Farmer School now offers a 14-month accelerated full-time MBA program with a focus on general management. “We can get students what they need and back in the workforce faster than the traditional model,” explains Bays, the MBA director at Farmer.

While accelerated programs are a newer development in the United States educational market, Bays says it’s an established trend in other countries. “The [MBA] program growth in the past 15 to 20 years has been in Europe and Asia, where accelerated programs have become the norm,” explains Bays. “Basically incorporating the ‘need for speed’ that has become so basic in the business world.”

Of course, just because the program takes 14 months instead of two years doesn’t mean it’s lacking in content. Miami’s program packs plenty of action into its accelerated format, including local and international practical experience.

All students participate in extended local internships with business partners such as Procter & Gamble, Convergys, Fidelity and GE Aircraft Engines. Another bonus of Miami’s program is the global consultancy capstone class, during which students are required to spend four to six weeks living and working for a host company in another country.


Northern Kentucky University offers degrees in communication, business and health informatics, industrial-organizational psychology, computer science, school and community counseling, liberal arts, journalism, nursing, law and more. The school currently has a growing enrollment of 14,800 students who are served by nearly 2,400 faculty and staff members.

NKU’s graduate and continuing education programs are designed for flexibility. Online and evening classes are offered, and degrees in education and nursing can be earned completely online. New online programs, such as a master in integrated studies, will begin this fall. Also, NKU is the only school in the area to offer a master’s in public administration.

The College of Business offers certificates in advanced taxation and six business certificates including entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, international business, project management and general business.

College of Mount St. Joseph

Adult enrollment at The College of Mount St. Joseph in Delhi Township has been growing steadily in recent years. Assistant Academic Dean Judi Heile now sees a bigger spike. That’s common, she says, when the economy slows and people either lose jobs or want to add to their employment security and prospects by either boosting their knowledge or change careers.

“The Mount” has been innovative in adult education since it began the first weekend college in Greater Cincinnati in 1978. In addition to its master’s programs in education, nursing and religious studies, the M.S. in Organizational Leadership, begun in 2001, continues to be a popular alternative to a traditional MBA degree. This is a values-based, multi-disciplinary program that includes not only financial instruction “but also critical thinking, building relationships and other aspects to leadership,” Heile explains. One example she cites is a laboratory chemist “who now needs the skills and attributes to become a leader in his organization.”

Heile says an impressive number of business professionals and executives who always yearned to teach turn to The Mount. Along with various options for people seeking a master’s in education, The Mount launched a Teacher Education Apprenticeship Master’s Program (TEAM) in three specialty areas: Inclusive Early Childhood Education (in partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools), Multicultural Special Education, Adolescent to Young Adult Education. Students in these accelerated programs earn their master’s degree and an Ohio teacher’s license. “This is ideal for, say, the accountant who’s nearing retirement, but always wanted to teach,” Heile points out.

The Mount’s master’s program in nursing makes it possible for students with a bachelor’s degree in any subject to get the prerequisites needed for this graduate degree. A new healthcare program is the doctorate in physical therapy. Heile says the American Physical Therapy Association has endorsed phasing out the master’s in PT, and within about four years will begin requiring PT clinicians to go from their undergraduate degree into the doctoral track.

Heile is quick to note that adult higher ed is not all about graduate work. “Many people achieve their goals through accelerated undergraduate degrees in graphic and interior design, or business administration, or computer information systems,” she says. “Our Accounting Plus program is popular among people who earned business degrees but now want the accounting skills and credentials.”

There’s also strong interest among registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which gives them the higher level of critical thinking and leadership skills that earn promotions. Mount St. Joseph partners with area hospitals in its BSN program. “This is very popular with hospitals that want to raise the bar on the quality of their nursing,” she notes.

Union Institute & University

Predominantly online programs such as those at Union Institute & University can fit into the busy schedules of working parents. UI&U is based in the Gantz Center in Cincinnati, but many of its programs require little travel time.

“We have continued the tradition of meeting the needs of adults wherever they find themselves,” says new UI&U President Roger Sublett. “Residencies and online learning are powerful combinations that provide the flexibility to our students and faculty members alike to work collaboratively.”

UI&U offers adults 14 majors for a bachelor of science degree, and nine concentrations for a bachelor of arts. Studies include business management, liberal arts, human services and organizational management. These require minimal time in the classroom, which allows students to study at home or in the office.

The university also has master’s and doctoral programs. These are offered for humanities, psychology, interdisciplinary studies and education.

Wilmington College

Wilmington College now has 220-225 people enrolled in its branch campus programs, says Sylvia Stevens, associate vice president for external programs.

At the Blue Ash campus, for example, students who have completed 60 transfer credit hours can work toward an accelerated organizational leadership degree that is career-focused and can be completed in as little as 20 months, Stevens says.

Wilmington has an array of regular business majors, as well, including accounting, entrepreneurship, HR management and business administration.

Wright State University

For working professionals looking for career advancement or a new career path, Wright State University in Dayton has extended a convenient reach to potential graduate students in Southwest Ohio.

Besides a traditional MBA program with evening classes, Wright State has launched a weekend MBA offered at Sinclair College’s Courseview Campus in Mason. Classes meet twice monthly, on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. Five weekends of classes are combined with online learning.

“The thing we kept hearing is that weekday evening classes are difficult to schedule for some people, especially those who travel frequently through the week,” explains Monica Snow, director of Business and International Programs at the university’s Raj Soin College of Business.

Wright State develops these graduate programs in consultation with area businesses, many of which help fund employees who take classes. “The students complete a project for their sponsoring employers, with proven return on investment for those companies,” Snow notes.

Besides the MBA, and master’s degrees in accountancy, and social and applied economics, the Raj Soin business college has two executive master’s programs, one in information systems, another in logistics and supply chain management.

The executive master’s in information systems benefits both information technology specialists who need to learn more about corporate management, and vice versa. “There are many business leaders who might not have an IT background, but are managing IT projects and budgets,” Snow observes. These executive master’s programs include eight credit hours devoted to actual projects with management at the student’s sponsoring company.

Xavier University

Xavier has a part-time MBA program, executive MBAs for those with years of experience in specific industries and MBA-plus courses for those who already have the graduate degree, but need booster education. “The (part-time MBA) program on average takes about two to three years to finish, depending on how fast the student takes classes,” says Bush, the MBA director.

There are also two off-site locations, one in West Chester and one in Mason. A weekend-only MBA program with Saturday classes rounds out Xavier’s MBA offerings.

Deciding on an MBA program is a very personal decision, says Bush. “MBA programs are not apples to apples,” she counsels. “Anyone going for an MBA has to be an informed person. What are their commitments to family? To work?”

Xavier’s Executive MBA is a 19-month accelerated program exclusively for business professionals with 10 to 20 years of significant managerial experience. The MBA-plus certificate can be earned in specialty areas such as marketing, finance, management information systems and eBusiness.