COLUMBUS, Miss.--Haley Harris has a fulltime job at a community college in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. She holds an undergraduate degree in business from The W, and she wants to earn her master’s. A new online degree program launched by Mississippi University for Women this summer offered her the chance to reach her goal.
“I graduated from The W, so I knew the professors and I knew I would get a quality education,” she said. “I’m familiar with the online learning environment, and it appealed to me.”
She’s taking nine credit hours—considered a full graduate load—while also working. “I usually do my classwork at night,” she said, adding that she hopes to finish the graduate degree by next fall.
The new master’s degree program in global commerce will prepare graduates to work in their local communities with the growing number of international companies in the region, said Dr. Scott Tollison, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies. The inaugural class has nine students from Mississippi and Tennessee.
“It’s designed to be multidisciplinary,” Tollison explained. “Students get exposure to international law, cross-cultural management, global marketing, software solutions, telecommunications and other subjects.” One area he’s particularly proud of is environmental sustainability. “Students need to understand their carbon footprint,” he said.
Graduate faculty in the college teach in the program, which also requires that students select one country of primary focus.
“In every course, they have a project that relates to their declared country,” explained Dr. Marty Brock, chair of business. “It goes into their portfolio, and they complete the program with a capstone portfolio presented by video to faculty members.” Not only does the project-based approach give students content that’s real, she said, “it also gives them something they can take to an employer. It makes them more marketable.”
Dr. Dee Larson, graduate coordinator and professor of marketing, said that the new online program offers an opportunity to evolve up-to-the-minute content and present it in an innovative format. Next semester, for instance, she will use marketing simulation software in two courses.
“Students will use the program to simulate product and brand development as well as global marketing management,” she said. “Simulation games offer students a hands-on experience. In this ‘learn by doing’ approach, users compete against other firms simulated by the computer and make marketing and business decisions. It is a fun and highly interactive way to learn.”
Harris, who is focusing on Italy in her studies, says that the different business culture appealed to her. “I especially wanted to contrast it with ours,” she said. Her goal is to continue her studies at the doctoral level and teach at a university.
Savannah Tubbs of Pascagoula, a 23-year-old 2012 W graduate, also is among the inaugural class. “Having this degree, especially from such a prestigious university, will help me gain that ‘something extra’ against my competitors,” she said of the increasingly global job market.
Like Harris, Tubbs holds a fulltime job while taking a full graduate course load. “Shifting from an in-class schedule to online is a big adjustment,” she said. “However, I could not imagine going through this program any other way.” Choosing to focus on the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, she also is contrasting commerce in her native and her selected countries. “I am on track to complete the degree in August,” she said.
Both students say they’re enjoying the opportunity to expand their cultural and business horizons by learning aspects of their countries such as work attire and lunch etiquette, as well as the economy and financial climates. “The work is project-based, and the projects are interesting,” Harris said.
For non-business majors, the program offers the option of taking all required prerequisites in one semester, the professors said. “We also can accommodate part-time students,” Brock said, “and students can enroll in the fall, spring or summer. We’re finding these options appeal to many students who are learning about our global commerce master’s degree.”
For more information, see http://web3.muw.edu/globalcommerce.
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