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College of Business launches accelerated, fully online iMBA program

Sacramento State has a new, fully online Master of Business Administration program designed to accommodate working professionals and their schedules.

To create the new “iMBA” program, the College of Business revamped an existing master’s degree program so students can earn their MBA in a year without ever setting foot on campus.

“It allows students flexibility,” said Eric Lin, iMBA faculty director. “Here at Sac State, we believe in providing options, and this will serve students who need an online program because of their work or family commitments.

“We decided this would be a good way to serve our student body and local community by offering something that would benefit them.”

A portrait of Eric Lin in a suit and tie.
Eric Lin, College of Business faculty director for Sacramento State's new yearlong, cohort-based iMBA program, which allows students to earn their Master of Business Administration degree fully online. (Courtesy Eric Lin)

Nationwide, enrollment in MBA programs has been declining for years, even among top schools, Lin said.

“But so far, with the MBA we offer, we see overall healthy numbers,” Lin said. “We offer a very high-quality program that is accredited, with high-quality faculty and staff that is affordable.”

Students attend synchronous classes online 3-7 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays to accommodate most work schedules.

The 12-month iMBA is cohort-based, so each new group of students moves through the same series of courses together.

Faculty include professors with industry experience as well as business executives who serve as co-instructors and guest speakers. 

“We’re providing students with hands-on learning experience through Harvard-style case studies,” Lin said. “We’re not just feeding students basic knowledge from books. Students will need to demonstrate they’ve mastered the concepts and can apply them.

“It goes way beyond book study and memorizing formulas.”

Lin said offering the program online provides other benefits.

“Students are also learning skills in this new world, where you’re expected to get things done over Zoom or Microsoft Teams from time to time,” Lin said. “The business world has changed following the pandemic, and some companies expect employees to be able to get things done without coming to the office.”

Kimberly Lim, 24, wanted to go into academia, but the pandemic nixed her graduate school plans. Ultimately, she started Sun Kissed & Co., a sustainable-fragrance company.

“I’m a small business owner, so the online iMBA program was a lot better for my schedule in terms of flexibility,” said Lim, who sells her candles, body butters, and scents at pop-up events and farmers markets throughout the Sacramento region.

Taking classes from home saves Lim hours of commuting during rush hour.

“I value my time, and I don’t want to waste it driving or looking for parking,” Lim said. “That’s what sold me on the iMBA. I had submitted an application for the in-person program, and when I found out the iMBA was accelerated to one year and everything was online, I switched.”

An affordable, online program is exactly what Jonathan Christie, 50, wanted when he decided to go for an MBA.

An optometrist for Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, Christie has been managing three locations for the last seven years and hopes to move into administrative leadership, he said.

“I knew I didn’t want to be a clinician for my whole entire career,” Christie said. “I knew I wanted to lead teams and be able to make a change in how things are done.

“People think optometry is about glasses and contacts, but we do quite a bit more.”

Christie and his staff also screen patients for health issues such as hypertension and diabetes as well as give flu shots, he said.

“There are a lot of things we do from a public health point of view that, if we look at it from a business point of view, means we can take care of people better,” Christie said.

“Right now, I can make a change in my department, but if I can keep moving my way up, I can make a change throughout Southern California and the entire organization.”

However, time and money were hurdles for Christie, and Sac State’s iMBA program was an ideal solution.

“It’s a rigorous program and a respected institution,” said Christie, who is scheduled to graduate in July. “There are other online programs, but in terms of a real university with a full-scope program, Sac State was the best one.

“I wasn’t sure what to think, and it’s exceeded what I’d hoped to get out if already.”

Tuition was about a third of the cost of similar programs, he said.

The synchronous classes also were a draw because he didn’t want to just watch videos.

“At Sac State, you’re in a class so you get to know your team,” he said. “My cohort is a really interesting, really diverse group of people who are involved in all aspects of business. I’ve learned quite a lot from them and their experiences.

“You get a different perspective, which is really nice, and it also helps build your network.”

The College of Business is accepting applications for the Fall 2023 iMBA program through May 16.

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About Jennifer K. Morita

Jennifer K. Morita joined Sacramento State in 2022. A former newspaper reporter for the Sacramento Bee, she spent several years juggling freelance writing with being a mom. When she isn’t chauffeuring her two daughters, she enjoys reading mysteries, experimenting with recipes, and Zumba.

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