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UCA MBA Program Named to Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools List

The University of Central Arkansas’ Master in Business Administration program was named to The Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools list of Best On-Campus MBA programs.

The list recognized the top 244 on-campus MBA programs around the country and was based on survey data from more than 17,800 students and school administrators.

“What makes our Best Business Schools list unique is that we factor in data from our surveys of students attending the schools about their campus and classroom experiences,” said Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of ­The Princeton Review.

Student respondents identified cost, diversity, high academic standards, job prospects upon graduation and accessible, knowledgeable faculty as attributes that separated the UCA MBA program from others.

“It has been our goal over the last few years to grow our program and provide a high-quality, affordable and flexible graduate program that our students could use to advance their careers,” said Mark McMurtrey, Ph.D., director of the UCA MBA program. “Our continued inclusion in this ranking of top MBA programs in the country shows our students find value in our program and the concentrations we now offer.”

The UCA MBA program has more than 150 students — up from 89 in 2016 — and offers concentrations in finance, health care administration and information management, as well as an option to embed a graduate certificate in data analytics. It is accredited through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

UCA MBA Named One of Most Affordable Online Programs

The University of Central Arkansas Master of Business Administration program was named among the most affordable online programs in the country by Best Value Schools.

UCA was the highest-rated Arkansas school named to the list and the second-highest Southland Conference school.

“Enrolling in the online MBA program at the University of Central Arkansas is more than just enrolling in an academic program, it is opening the doors to new opportunities,” reads the review of UCA by Best Value Schools. “Students collaborate and with faculty to learn the intricacies of decision making and risk-taking. Students learn how to meet challenges from within the classroom, or in this case the online course and in their personal lives. Students learn from faculty who are experts in their field and dedicated to each student’s success. Students can attend anytime, day or evening and enroll in courses in the fall, spring, or summer terms.”

The UCA MBA program offers four concentrations — Finance, Health Care Administration, Information Management and International Business — to meet a wide variety of needs for our students. Those who do not wish to select a concentration may earn a general MBA. The program also allows students to complete a 12-hour Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics while enrolled in the MBA program.

Learn more about the UCA MBA here.

Internal Drive, Supportive Faculty Helped Ericka Gutierrez Be Successful in COB

Attaining her master’s in business administration was going to be a daunting task, but Ericka Gutierrez was up for it.

Most days began around 5 a.m. for her. She finished up tasks and assignments she hadn’t the night before at the library, prepared for another day and saw her 5-year-old daughter, Aryana, off to school. She was at her desk by 8 a.m., working as outreach coordinator for the UCA Office of Diversity & Community.

From there, she either worked several hours at her part-time job or attended night class. That was followed by a few hours in the library each night to work on assignments. Then, she tried to get a few hours of sleep before the next day began.

“It’s difficult to be in school at the post-graduate level and have all those moving parts,” said Gutierrez. “But I never doubted that no matter what happened, I could reach out to my professors and they would support me. I knew from my undergraduate in the College of Business I could take all this on and have the support I needed.”

Gutierrez first came to UCA in 2012 as a transfer student from the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton.

MORE: Transferring from UACCM? Check UCA’s 2+2 Transfer Agreements

“I was a first-generation college student in my family so I needed a little extra help in navigating through college, finding my bearings and navigating the next steps,” said Gutierrez. “My professors were the best throughout that process and impacted me tremendously.”

After she settled on a management degree with an emphasis in logistics and supply chain management, Gutierrez said Scott Nadler, Ph.D., associate professor of management, walked her through her first career fair, introducing her to his contacts in the industry.

“That first career fair can be intimidating,” she said. “There are a lot of people and recruiters, and it’s hard to know what to say and how to present yourself. Dr. Nadler diffused the tension and helped me through it.”

That type of support and encouragement continued throughout her undergraduate with other professors including Doug Voss, Ph.D., associate professor of logistics and supply chain management, and Michael B. Hargis, Ph.D., dean of the UCA College of Business and then-associate professor of marketing and management.

LEARN MORE: Logistics & Supply Chain Management

“It was unheard of to have that type of support,” said Gutierrez. “I felt at home with a group of professors who were willing to walk with me through my education. It was great to have that type of support from people I looked up to.”

When she graduated in 2014, Gutierrez had various opportunities in logistics and supply chain, but the pull to work at UCA was too strong to ignore. She accepted a position as an admissions counselor and began recruiting throughout central and northwest Arkansas.

“I loved UCA, and the position sounded great,” said Gutierrez. “The more I learned about it, the more I knew that was where I needed to be. As a Hispanic woman and first-generation college student, it was incredible to connect with so many students who were like me and reassure them they could achieve the educational goals they had and have the support at UCA to do so.”

Her previous experiences in the college, along with an opportunity she saw to grow personally and in her career, Gutierrez returned to the College of Business in 2016 to pursue an MBA.

“I wanted to continue to learn about myself and see what area of business I wanted to enter eventually,” said Gutierrez. “It was an amazing experience.”

Gutierrez immediately saw the benefits of the program. Concepts in Organizational Behavior helped Gutierrez better address and counsel students in a new position as coordinator for Hispanic and Latino outreach initiatives in the Office of Diversity & Community. Now, Gutierrez is a recruiter at Pediatrics Plus, and the things she learned continue to be beneficial.

Her Innovation Leadership course with Jeff Standridge, Ph.D., adjunct instructor of finance and member of the College of Business Advisory Board, “changed my perspective in my personal life, motherhood and in my career,” said Gutierrez.

“It’s a do-and-learn class,” said Gutierrez. “It’s about implementing new products or ideas in effective ways. It presents a process you can follow and implement whatever you’re doing, get feedback, adjust and reapply. It’s something I’ve been able to apply in my career and it’s been rewarding to see how it’s helped.”

LEARN MORE: Master of Business Administration

While many of the days were long, Gutierrez said smaller class sizes, paired with helpful professors and hybrid courses helped her tremendously.

“I was able to take face-to-face classes when I felt I needed to do that, but I had the flexibility to take online classes, too,” she said. “Having that option was amazing and makes it possible to achieve.”

Ultimately, her time in the MBA program was transformational for Gutierrez.

“I took a lot of self-development and growth out of that program,” she said. “I was able to explore my strengths and weaknesses which is invaluable. Whether it is personally, academically or professionally, if you’re able to see your strengths and weaknesses, you can be strategic in those areas.”