UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School is launching a pilot MBA program called NC Business Next for recent college graduates.
In a typical full-time MBA program, applicants are expected to have work experience prior to applying. NC Business Next offers graduates with up to two years of professional experience the option to get their MBA before entering the job market.
According to the business school, the program is designed for graduates from the University, other UNC System institutions and North Carolina residents from other universities.
Brad Staats and Melissa Hlavac, associate deans of MBA programs, worked together on this project.
They stressed the importance of the program for recent graduates and rising seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the job market is relatively unstable.
“So traditionally, almost the entire class has many years of experience,” said Staats. “What is unique is that we are changing the admission standards for this group.”
Applicants will still be held to a high academic standard from their undergraduate careers, but Staats said the leadership team understands the difficulties of entering the job market during this time.
“We know that they're already accustomed to the academic lifestyle, and in most cases, we expect that they're going to excel in the classroom,” said Hlavac. “We're looking for strong candidates who have clear goals, those who are extremely motivated, that are accomplished and accomplish more so than their peers.”
According to the Kenan-Flagler website, the school offers different types of MBA programs, including full-time, online, evening and weekend.
Staats said the variety of programs allows for flexibility in schedules for those working while also studying to get their MBA.
While NC Business Next is new to Kenan-Flagler, it falls under the school's full-time MBA programs. The candidates who apply to this program are different from those who apply to the full-time program, but they will be on the same academic track.
“So that program itself is not new, it is well established,” said Staats. “We're just going to apply it earlier in their career — for most, it'll be right after graduation.”
The priority application for NC Business Next is due June 15, and the final application is due July 13, according to the Kenan-Flagler website. Meeting the priority deadline increases the opportunity for fellowship consideration.
Mabel D’Souza, a UNC 2020 graduate in business administration and economics, said that although she has a job lined up for August, she understands that not all graduating seniors have had the same luck.
“It's really hard to get back out there and rebrand yourself as a graduating senior,” said D’Souza. “I've been really lucky to have had the same job, have not had to go back into the job market or have not been forced to be laid off.”
D’Souza said that she plans to get her MBA three to five years after graduating and getting more work experience in the investment management company she plans to work at.
“I do think that the work experience before your MBA is still important,” she said.
Cara Romano, a rising senior majoring in business administration, said she also wants to get her MBA at some point after graduation, but wants to gain work experience before applying. While she did not know if NC Business Next was the right option for her path, she said she understood the value for other students.
“I think that (a program) that's designed specifically for students who have just graduated would be something that's very interesting,” said Romano. “I think that's definitely something that the business school could use, and I think that it definitely will be influential for years to come.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.