An MBA can give a manager a big boost up the career ladder. But not everyone has the time and resources to get a master's degree. That's why UC Irvine Extension teaches MBA-level skills in its Business Administration Certificate program.
"The intent is to provide a well-rounded business and management knowledge base to individuals seeking to advance in their career or prepare for management positions," said Loan Vo, assistant director of marketing and communications for UCI Extension. "It delivers the essential suite of skills similar to those taught in traditional MBA programs, without the same financial and time commitment."
Vo believes that in today's fast-paced and highly competitive business world, an acute grasp of business administration is no longer a "nice to have" but a "must have" skill. UCI Extension's certificate program allows students to rapidly acquire the marketing, management, financial and communication skills they need to succeed in any industry.
"The courses are also practical in that they learn from industry experts who impart their experiences and insight with the students," Vo said. "The material taught is based on real-life scenarios and solutions so that students can take what they learn in class and apply it immediately at work."
Previous program graduates agree. "Participating in this program has helped me become more aware and better prepared to understand the broad scope of my company specifically and business in general," said graduate Laura A. Smith. "It has helped me to be more adaptive and valuable as an employee."
First introduced in 2000, the program includes required courses in finance, human resources, marketing, leadership and law, as well as cutting-edge topics like Internet marketing and changes in workplace communications. Electives cover topics like problem solving and decision making, preparing for entrepreneurship, business writing and negotiation skills.
Sue Robins, who teaches the business writing and negotiation/persuasion courses, said that three types of students attend her classes. The largest group — students for whom English is a second language — want to appear more professional in their business life. The second group hails from the science and technology fields — students who want to communicate more effectively with people who don't understand technical terminology. The third group is made up of people starting out in the business world: career changers and recent college grads.
"There are a number of reasons why this program is appealing to students," Robins said. For one thing, the Business Administration Certificate Program covers the majority of content that students get through a typical MBA program at a cost-effective rate. In addition, students can benefit from the convenience of learning on their own time since the program can be completed entirely online.
"This allows students to fit learning with their schedule but still get the same quality of education," Robins said.
Instructors in the program encourage students to interact with each other even though they are studying remotely.
"We find ways to help them work collaboratively. I always have a focus in my class to do collaborative writing in a remote manner because that is just the reality of what happens nowadays: Most teams are not all in the same location and they need to be able to present their findings — usually a written document of some sort — even if they are not in the same location."
The business world also benefits from the certificate program. For example, Robins said, multiple employers have sent employees to attend her classes.
"My employer introduced the program to the entire company," program graduate Priscilla Durham said. "I took advantage of it because I wanted to broaden my knowledge of business administration."