I don't want a degree mill, just a degree!
July 5, 2010 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Looking at an online MBA, talk to me more about regional vs. national accreditation please as well as program-specific accreditation

I have read this and this but much has changed in five years in the field. Also this and this even though they're not specifically MBA related.

I know the red flags in the field, especially degree mills, but I'm fairly confident through research that Columbia Southern is not one. The main issue I see is that it's nationally accredited vs. regionally accredited. I've read up on the issues that can cause with transfer of credit, etc. but that's not an issue for me as I see the MBA as terminal degree. I already hold an MSc and have no desire to get a PhD. I've tried to look up whether anyone cares if the degree is online, or specifically from Columbia Southern and I don't see any red flags. My concern is that the business degrees are not accredited by AACSB, but I don't know if that's an issue.

If it matters, program I'm looking at specifically is the Sports Management MBA. I have some coursework in the sports field from my MSc (overlapping coursework, different focus) as well as contacts in the field from my MSc as well as professional work, but not having those three letters is hurting professional growth. I'm currently employed in my field with a good salary and have been since 2007, this is more a question for growth. My BA and MSc were from traditional brick and mortar schools - MSc was great for current field, but less so for branching out even though it's from a known school (NYU).

I know the traditional classroom MBA offers intangibles you can't get online, but for various reasons including time and work - moving for an MBA isn't feasible right now. Sports focused MBAs are few and far between in general - with the best in-person one being San Diego State and others in various locations. Many online ones are shady for-profit at best - this one is not. Or doesn't seem to be.

Is there anything I"m missing? Anything I should be looking for? I'm still researching and not going to sign up tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I know all I should be looking for.

Any input on mbas, sports mbas, online degrees, etc. welcome. Thanks!
posted by TravellingCari to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are plenty of online MBA programs from brick-and-mortar schools. Moreover, are you sure that the sports-specific classes are the kind of thing that would really give you the "in" you need? I'd think that building contacts, doing an internship, working in an office that works with athletes (even if all you're doing is filing and copying), etc. would give you the sports-specific experience that you'd need. No amount of coursework can prepare you for most of the real-world things you'll do.
posted by Madamina at 9:01 AM on July 5, 2010

Rather than "looking up" whether people care whether your MBA is from this school, ask people who are in the field. Find a forum where these people congregate, or better yet, do some in-person informational interviewing as per What Color is Your Parachute. In this economy it is insane to pay for a degree that you are not absolutely sure will advance you. Talk to your informants not only about whether this is the right school, but about how they got into the field and what they'd be looking for in a new hire.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:37 AM on July 5, 2010

Well, I can't speak for employers in sports management, but I know in my industry, listing an MBA from what frankly is a no-name, regionally accredited, online-only and for-profit school would absolutely be a net negative on a resume. You say you basically had to research them to make sure they're not a diploma mill - most hiring managers I know wouldn't take the time to do that, just toss your resume in the trash. Since you already have contacts in the industry, ask them what they know about the school; if the response you get from most of them is that they've never heard of it, then drop the idea.

I would research online programs from reputable schools that also have a brick-and-mortar presence and executive MBAs from local programs, even if they don't focus on sports management at all, because to most employers, I think school name recognition is far more important in an MBA than industry focus.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:40 AM on July 5, 2010

National accreditation is less prestigious than regional accreditation, so that would be a red flag. AASCB accreditation speaks to the quality of the degree.

There are so many great traditional, brick-and-mortar schools that are offering flexible MBAs (part-time, evening, online, hybrid) that you should be able to find something regionally and AASCB accredited and with good name recognition in your area. That will be a far better use of your money than an unknown online-only school.

An MBA is supposed to train you to lead and manage a business, and the skills are transferable to different types of businesses. You can bring a sports focus through internships and projects.

Have a general MBA from a well-known institution and good contacts is worth far more than a highly-specific MBA from an unknown school.
posted by jeoc at 10:30 AM on July 5, 2010

Madamina: Good point. However I already have a lot of the contacts. The office where I work currently is heavily involved with such things as: successful 2014 SuperBowl bid, future World Cup bid, NY Yankees/NY Giants Championship parade, etc. I've worked a number of the events and planning myself. I've done the work - probably more than an intern would. Contacts include those active in the industry: sports commissioner, agent and working relationships with the NFL and Major League Baseball - but the MBA seems to be the key to many doors. I think the issue is the focus/pigeon-holing - people who know the degree I got, know it's broader than its name. Those who don't - don't. Agree that it could be the same issue with a lesser-known school

Strangely Stunted: not sure if you're thinking of the right school. CSU is non-profit and nationally accredited (regional is better in this case). I will take your idea on asking about their familiarity with the program itself. Wordwoman, ditto yours on the informational interviews. I know where some in the field have their degrees from, others I'm less sure.

I did a lot of the MBA coursework as part of my MSc - for whatever reason the NYU program that I did is not through Stern and is offered as an MSc, not an MBA. My thinking in the sports coursework is it will give me more of the focus I'm looking for in this case rather than just the general business, ethics, finance and marketing - which I've already done. I know there are many flexible MBA programs, some through some very good schools - I just don't want to repeat a lot of course work just to get the three letters.

It's clear I need to do more thinking on this - thanks. Thanks all!
posted by TravellingCari at 11:29 AM on July 5, 2010

Just a clarification from a question I answered in a MeMail. The MSc I have was offered through a program that had degrees in tourism, hospitality and sport management.I focused in tourism, but took a number of the sports courses due to the overlap in the fields.

My MSc is in Tourism Management with a concentration in Marketing and Development. It's the fact that it was an MSc that hurts more than track - there are some who are only looking MBA - don't realize MSc has some of the same coursework.
posted by TravellingCari at 11:33 AM on July 5, 2010

If you already have experience in sports and industry connections, you don't need a sports MBA. Most are marketed towards just-out-of-undergrads who need the internship and experience to get a foot in the door. Get the best MBA you can afford and get into*, with a specialty in a functional area rather than an industry. (*I have bias towards B&M programs; if you do decide to purse the degree online, do it through a nationally-ranked program with AACSB accreditation, if there are any.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 12:51 PM on July 5, 2010

Thanks. There are nationally-ranked AACSB accredited online. Penn State has one. It's the afford that's the bigger issue. If I had a sugar daddy or the stomach for even more debt I'd do NYU or Columbia MBA right here. I'm just trying to balance finances, time, etc. Clear I need to do more thinking on this.

Thanks all!
posted by TravellingCari at 1:45 PM on July 5, 2010

Sorry meant to say non-regionally accredited; that's an important typo. As to it being non or for profit, most of the Google hits I get show it as being for profit, e.g., this and this, but I see some that show it as a non-profit too now that I'm searching again.

Regardless, my point about a name school being a better way to further your career stands, and I'd even amplify it now that you've explained a bit more about your situation; if you already have deep experience in your industry and are mostly looking for this to open doors towards further advancement for you, a prestigious B&M program is going to do a lot more for you.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:58 PM on July 5, 2010

Thanks SST ( and I love the screen name). My cut is their for profit status changed at time point - likely when they got the distance-learning accreditation. May or may not have been a requirement for accreditation. Thanks again for the input!
posted by TravellingCari at 6:38 PM on July 5, 2010

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