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Interview: James Brodzinski, Dean of Saint Xavier University Graham School of Management

brodzinski_jim-portrait.gifJames Brodzinski, Dean of Saint Xavier University Graham School of Management, joins us today to discuss distance education.

Tell us about the distance learning programs offered at the Graham School of Management.

Currently, we are offering the Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Service Management. Over 80% of employment opportunities in the United States are in the service sector. The ability to delivery service excellence, both within and organization as well as to external customers and constituencies, is an essential skill in today's work environment. Our program has three starts per year in January, April, and August. While this is a new delivery model for us, we believe that it will enable us to offer a quality degree program to geographically diverse student body.

What is the typical duration of your program?

It is a 26 month program. Students in the program take one course every 8 weeks. If someone entering the program doesn't have an undergraduate degree in business, they will need to take one hour foundation courses as prerequisites to the program. This may extend their completion time.

What would you say makes the Graham School of Management programs different and better than other comparable online programs?

There are many online programs that might seem to be attractive because students can complete them in less time and for less money. The value of our program begins with our faculty. The majority of the courses are taught by faculty who not only stay current in their fields but are constantly working to advance the body of knowledge in their area of expertise through academic research and regular publication. Many of the faculty are also practitioners in their field and bring real world experiences into the virtual classroom. There is also an intrinsic value to earning a degree from Saint Xavier University, the quality reputation of Chicago's oldest Catholic university.

How important would you say accreditation is when choosing an online college?

Accreditation is extremely important. Accreditation challenges a school maintain a level of excellence that is measured though peer reviews and against national standards. We are accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

There is some debate as to whether or not online degrees are as worthwhile as traditional degrees. What steps does the Graham School of Management take to ensure that online students are receiving the same education that they'd receive in a classroom?

The courses in our online program are taught by the same faculty who teach those classes in our classroom based programs. By using state of the art technology, our instructors have the ability to provide course instruction in effective and engaging ways. In addition, our academic programs, both on-campus and on-line, are assessed using the same criteria for academic excellence.

What would you say are some of the benefits of earning a degree online rather than in a traditional classroom?

The main difference is convenience. Students have the flexibility of doing their coursework at time that is convenient for them day or night. Since there isn't a designated class time, students must be disciplined in scheduling time to work through the material to ensure their success. Another difference between our online and in classroom programs is the length of each individual course. The online format is based upon an 8 week term, whereas our in classroom programs are on a 10 week schedule. The online program requires students to be disciplined to move through the material at a quicker pace.

If a student enrolled in one of your programs was interested in finding an internship in their field in their area, do you have any means of assisting them in acquiring an internship position?

Internships are not required for our program. However if a student would like to seek an internship opportunity assistance is available through the university's Office of Counseling and Career Services.

Does the Graham School of Management offer any job placement services to your students and graduates?

The majority of the students in the graduate program are adults who are already actively working in their fields. However, the university's Office of Counseling and Career Services is available to assist students who are actively seeking employment.

Is financial aid available to students in your programs?

Students in this program do qualify for enough loans through the Federal Stafford Loan Program to cover the cost in its entirety. While many people are concerned about taking out money that they will have to pay back, it is important to keep in mind that earning an advanced degree is a true investment that doesn't depreciate in value. Plus, when you do repay student loans though the Stafford Loan Program there are tax benefits on the interest similar to a home mortgage. Education is always a worthwhile investment.

Do you have any advice for students enrolling in online classes for the first time?

Be disciplined. Schedule regular time to work through the material each week. Make it an appointment on your calendar just as if you were attending class. If you have the discipline, you will be successful.

What do you enjoy most about your position at the Graham School of Management?

Being dean of a vibrant, future-directed school of business gives me the opportunity to provide students an education that meets their immediate and future career needs. I work with a highly skilled faculty and staff who are dedicated to providing the best educational experience to our students. We are constantly striving to meet our student needs for quality education in a timeframe and format that meets their needs.

For more information about this Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Service Management program at Saint Xavier University (SXU) Graham School of Management, visit them online.

Thank you James, for sharing and participating in our featured piece.

That concludes our interview!

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