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Eller MBA Program


The Eller MBA is a rigorous degree with four different options for completion, each tailored to meet specific student needs: a traditional, residential program in Tucson is offered over two academic years; an 24-month Evening program is offered at both Eller’s Scottsdale campus and its home campus in Tucson; and a 16-month Executive program is offered at Eller’s Scottsdale campus. While these four options differ somewhat in terms of their curricula and delivery formats, there is one Eller MBA diploma. The distinctiveness of an Eller MBA degree, Innovation, Application and Communication, is to be found in all four options. Note: the Eller College is an AACSB International-accredited business school (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business).

Historical Perspective

In a dynamic environment, change is to be expected. Over the last decade, the Eller MBA has undergone many changes; a summary of the more significant changes along with effective dates follows. In addition to the full-time MBA offered over 2 academic years, an accelerated 1-year full-time program was launch in 2010 targeting those students who had an undergraduate degree in business. Unfortunately this accelerated program did not attract sufficient student numbers to be viable and in 2012 enrollment for the accelerated program was suspended.

Part-time program offerings have evolved. Initially, part-time students could select either an evening or a weekend program option. August 2006 saw the final cohort graduate from the weekend program. In its place, an Executive MBA (EMBA) program was offered biweekly on weekends, with classes meeting all day Friday and Saturday.

The EMBA program is differentiated from the evening program (and the previously offered weekend program) by student demographics rather than by schedule. It targets more mature students who hold senior positions along with greater organizational responsibilities. The first EMBA program was launched in 2005 on the Tucson campus. However, a strategic decision was taken to move the program. In 2006 the EMBA program was relocated to North Scottsdale where it could serve students from the significant population that resides in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. To meet the facility needs for the Eller EMBA, Eller MBA opened a satellite campus in Scottsdale equipped with a 64-seat tiered classroom, six study/breakout rooms, dining area, casual seating area, kitchen, two offices and work/storage rooms.

Changes have also occurred in the Evening MBA program. In 2008 an evening cohort was launched at the Scottsdale campus in addition to the evening cohort offered in Tucson. The Scottsdale and Tucson evening programs follow the same curriculum and program structure. Curriculum changes in 2009 shortened the evening program from a 22-month to an 18-month program. Subsequently, a benchmarking study of local peer institutions’ part-time programs (completed in 2010) followed by a thorough curriculum review during the 2011-2012 academic year by an Eller MBA task force resulted in a major change to the evening program. Effective with the intake of January 2013, the program has been extended to 24-months. A less obvious change was implemented in January 2012 when the Scottsdale and Tucson Evening MBA programs were formally synchronized. Consequently, there is a single program launch; program participants are integrated for a one-day on-campus team building event, the international trip and their elective courses.

The final significant change is an Eller College initiative launched in 2012 that started the process to implement an Eller online-MBA program. Eller has elected to partner with a third-party provider to develop the online courses for this program.

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

The Mission statement for the Eller MBA program is articulated as follows:

We seek to deliver excellence in graduate management education, with the central themes of innovation, application and communication guiding our curriculum:

  • Innovation is encouraged via instruction, supplemented by cutting-edge research from a world-class faculty that emphasizes critical thinking to allow graduates to thrive in environments that face perpetual change.
  • Application takes place as traditional classroom instruction is supplemented by multiple requirements and elective opportunities to apply lessons learned to practitioner driven settings.
  • Communication is recognized as a fundamental skill since business requires a network of relationships which must be managed and facilitated with superior interpersonal skills.

The distinctiveness delivered by an Eller MBA encapsulates the unique “Eller Experience”. As defined by Eller College, characteristics of the Eller experience are a “… teaching environment augmented by: professional development and experiential education; active research collaboration among faculty and students; anticipation of the future and innovation to meet its challenges; and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in students …”. Although Eller MBA uses just three aggregate terms, Innovation, Application and Communication, to articulate its distinctiveness, these three terms capture the essence of an Eller experience and are overarching outcomes for the Eller MBA. They guide curricular decisions and are holistically assessed to ensure that each Eller MBA program option delivers on the promise of an Eller Experience!

In addition to these three overarching outcomes, the following set of learning outcomes was developed in order to assess the knowledge and skills attained by Eller MBA graduates. For each learning outcome category, a set of operational and measurable outcomes is specified. Note: the learning outcomes were recently updated and in December 2010 these were adopted by the Eller College Graduate and Professional Studies Committee (GPSC), the faculty committee that oversees MBA curricula.

Critical Thinking

  • Demonstrates the ability to identify a problem and the information needed to develop a solution, develop alternative solutions, recommend the best solution, and evaluate the efficacy of the solution after it has been implemented.
  • Demonstrates the ability to articulate both sides of an argument, evaluate the quality of arguments and evidence, and construct and defend the position taken.
  • Explores innovative alternatives during the problem solving process.



  • Expresses written information appropriate for a given audience with conciseness and clarity.
  • Demonstrates the ability to prepare and deliver a professional presentation on a business topic.
  • Demonstrates active listening.
  • Effectively utilizes data in written and oral presentations to communicate ideas.
  • Demonstrates proficiency in written and oral business communications.


  • Provides and receives feedback, ideas, and instruction in a professional manner.
  • Organizes tasks and delegates responsibility to complete collaborative projects in a timely manner.
  • Explains the role and impact of each team member (including self) on the collaborative project.
  • Effectively works with a diverse, cross-functional team towards a common goal.

Business Knowledge

  • Demonstrates the ability to understand markets and financial theories through appropriate analysis and reporting.
  • Formulates an operations strategy that supports the competitive strategy of the firm and provides a means to achieve a competitive advantage.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of current theories of management and leadership.
  • Employs statistical data analysis and management science as a support to decision-making processes throughout an organization.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the domestic and global economic environments of organizations.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of business strategy and performs analysis of competitive markets to recommend strategies.
  • Applies marketing strategies and tactics as a way of understanding customers and competitors to create profitable firms and organizations.
  • Describes how information technology and information systems influence the structure and processes of organizations and economies, and the roles and techniques of management.


  • Demonstrates the ability to use business software and technology appropriately.
  • Utilizes technology appropriately in research contexts.

Ethics/Social Responsibility

  • Identifies ethical dilemmas and develops appropriate courses of action that consider the well-being of others and society.
  • Develops an understanding of the role of legal and social responsibility in organizations and society.
  • Engages in public service and professional development activities.

Leadership and Professional Skills

  • Demonstrates leadership and appropriate inter-personal skills.

Professional Skills

  • Applies knowledge in new and unfamiliar circumstances through a conceptual understanding of relevant disciplines.
  • Demonstrates the ability to adapt and innovate to solve problems, to cope with unforeseen events, and to manage in unpredictable environments.
  • Leverages skills and experiences for career success.

Outcomes and the Full-time MBA program

The Fulltime MBA is launched in August. Typically students complete their studies 2-years later in May. During the first year of a Full-time MBA, the curriculum is very prescriptive as students complete the majority of their core MBA classes. The second year of study is when students can customized their MBA experience by the choices they make for elective courses or for the pursuit of a dual degree. Because of the high variability in the courses taken by second year Full-time MBA students, the core (or required) courses is where the general learning outcomes are assessed. The core courses are shown in Table 1.



Table 1

Full-time MBA Program Curriculum Showing All Required Core Courses


First Year

Pre-fall term

MGMT 556: Leadership and Teams (2 units) taught during one week pre-fall term



Fall semester


MGMT 510A: Communication for Managers and Professional Development (3 units), full semester course



Session A (8 weeks, August - October)

Session B (8 weeks, October - December)

ACCT 540: Introduction to Financial Accounting (2 units)

FIN 510A: Financial Management (2 units)

ECON 550: Economics for Managers (2 units)

ECON 551: Business Strategy (2 units)

MGMT 562: Applied Business Statistics (2 units)

MKTG 510: Market-based Management (2 units)



Post-fall term


BNAD 596C: Global Business Experience (2 units)



Spring semester


BNAD 597A: Field Study Project (3 units), full semester course



Session A (8 weeks, January - March)

Session B (8 weeks, March - May)

FIN 510B: Financial Management (2 units)

ACCT 545: Introduction to Managerial Accounting (2 units)

MIS 585: Strategic Management of IS (2 units)

MIS 560: Operations Management (2 units)

Students are encouraged to take an elective, in addition to core coursework



Second Year*

Fall semester

Spring semester

Experiential Selective and Electives


*Students fill their second year schedule with a selective and electives to reach 55 units for graduation


From Table 1, it is evident that between years one and two there is no coursework scheduled. Full-time MBA students are expected to pursue an internship during their summer break. In Year two, students take one selective (a course selected from a restricted list) and electives. Electives enable students to pursue a functional business concentration in accounting, entrepreneurship, marketing, or MIS. Alternatively, students may opt for an industry focus rather than a functional concentration; two options Sustainable Energy or Health Care Management and Policy are offered. The third possibility enables students to pursue a dual degree that combines their MBA with graduate degree programs offered by Eller College, by another academic unit within the University of Arizona, or by an external partner, Thunderbird School of Global Management (for those students wishing to pursue a Global Management degree). The matrix provided in Appendix A illustrates how the MBA outcomes have been mapped to the core courses in the Full-time MBA program. It can be seen from this mapping that all outcomes are assessed within the core curriculum.


Outcomes and the Evening MBA program


The Evening MBA programs have a single launch in Tucson in early January. Students complete their studies two years later in December. Although the Evening MBA program is offered at two geographical locations, Scottsdale and Tucson, both these offerings follow the same curriculum, the program delivery is synchronized by week, and many faculty members teach at both locations. Evening MBA students select their elective courses in the fall semester of year two, the final semester of their program. The Evening MBA program curriculum is shown in Table 2.



Table 2

24-Month Evening MBA Program Curriculum, Implemented 1/2/13


First Year

Second Year



Spring Semester

Spring Semester

BNAD 515C: Business Intensive II (2 units) (online)

MGMT 535: International Management (2 units)

MGMT 501: Leadership & Social Responsibility (2 units)

BNAD 596C: Global Business Experience (2 units)

ECON 550: Economics for Managers (2 units)

MKTG 555E: Special Topics in Marketing (2 units)

MGMT 562: Applied Business Statistics (2 units)

ACCT 545: Introduction to Managerial Accounting (2 units)

MGMT 556: Leadership and Teams (2 units)

MIS 560: Operations Management (2 units)

MGMT 510E: Communication for Managers I (2 units)




Summer Semester

Summer Semester

ACCT 540: Introduction to Financial Accounting (2 units)

MGMT 564E: Negotiations (2 units)

MKTG 510: Market-Based Management (2 units)

MGMT 520: Legal and Ethical Values in Business (2 units)

BNAD 520E: Project Management (1 unit)




Fall semester

Fall semester

FIN 510A: Financial Management (2 units)

Capstone/Business Communications/Electives (9 units)

ECON 551: Business Strategy (2 units)


FIN 510B: Financial Management (2 units)


MIS 585: Strategic Management of IS (2 units)





Following the same rationale as was stated for the Full-time MBA program, the MBA outcomes have been mapped to the required courses in the Evening MBA curriculum. The Evening MBA outcome mapping is presented in Appendix B. Once again, it can be seen that all outcomes are assessed within the scope of the required courses.


Outcomes and the Executive MBA program

The Executive MBA program launches in August and students graduate the following year in December. The Executive MBA program has several noticeable differences from both the Full-time MBA and the Evening MBA programs. First, the program is fully prescribed therefore no electives are offered. Second, most modules have an interdisciplinary focus based on knowledge application rather than a focus on the underlying functional business areas. Third, incorporated in Module BNAD 505 is an integrative capstone project that focuses on innovation within corporations. This project results in a comprehensive deliverable that incorporates content from the entire spectrum of EMBA modules found in the curriculum. In Table 3, the EMBA modules are shown ordered according to the most recent delivery schedule for the program.




Table 3


Executive MBA Curriculum




Title and Units

BNAD 515

Quantitative Intensive (1 unit)

BNAD 501

Leadership and Teams (4 units)

BNAD 502

Performance of the Firm (4 units)

BNAD 516

Strategic Decision Making (4 units)

BNAD 512

Managing Human Capital in Changing Organizations (3 units)

BNAD 504

The Competitive Landscape (4 units)

BNAD 517

Financial Structure and Valuation (4 units)

BNAD 503

The Customer Value Proposition (4 units)


Business Law, Governance, and Corporate Ethics (3 units)


Strategic Operations and Technology (4 units)


Negotiating Strategically (2 units)

BNAD 505

Innovation and New Product Development, Capstone Project (4 units)

BNAD 511

Global Business Perspectives with Int’l trip (6 units)


Total 47 units


Given there are no elective modules in the Executive MBA program, the EMBA outcomes have been mapped to all program modules. The Executive MBA outcome mapping is presented in Appendix C. All outcomes are assessed within the scope of the program with the exception of the Ethics/Social Responsibility Outcome: Engages in public service and professional development activities.

Assessment Activities: 


Assurance of Learning

The Eller MBA first implemented an assessment process, centered on desired learning outcomes, in September 2000. This was part of a college-wide effort that improved the alignment between desired learning outcomes and the actual achievement of them. Since then, the Eller MBA has engaged in ongoing assessment activities designed to improve not only learning outcomes, but other programmatic activities such as experiential learning, career and professional development, and the ability to attract and retain a talented and diverse student body. For the initial assessment implementation, a series of meetings were held with representatives from all departments and administrators in the College who were interested in outcomes assessment. These early efforts led to the articulation of seven primary outcome categories. In 2010, an eighth outcome category, Leadership and Professional skills, was added to the list of learning outcomes categories.

Mapping the learning outcomes to required courses for each MBA program has demonstrated, with a single exception in the EMBA program, that all of the outcomes are assessed for all MBA students. Course-embedded measurement is the primary means of assuring that learning outcomes are being met. To graduate, MBA students must earn a passing grade (C or better) in every course taken in addition to earning an over-all GPA of at least 3.00 (i.e. a B average). Any student failing to pass a course has to retake that course.

The Eller MBA program, along with its peer institutions, has traditionally concentrated its academic programs on knowledge and skills. However, as was discussed above, there are other dimensions to the Eller Experience that make Eller graduates unique in the attributes they attain. In Eller MBA programs, this unique Eller Experience is found in Innovation, Application and Communication. In addition to several dedicated courses, learning and development in each of these three areas is infused throughout the MBA programs.

In the Full time and the Evening MBA programs, a core course is dedicated to Communication this is MGMT 510: Communication for Managers and Professional Development. This intensive first-semester course ensures that students master a well-defined set of communication skills in Writing, Speaking, Working in Teams, and Leadership. For a comprehensive overview of the MGMT 510 course and a summary of its effectiveness, please see the detailed information presented in Appendix D.

The Full-time MBA program has a second-semester core course dedicated to Application i.e. BNAD 597A: Field Study Project. For the projects, students work in assigned teams. These student teams undertake an assigned project that is a real-world project for an actual client. Clients may be from the private sector, non-profit sector, or government organizations. Each client pays $10,000 to sponsor a project. In addition to the faculty member of record for the Field Study Project course, each student team is assigned a faculty member advisor who is an expert in the functional area of their assigned project. Along with the final project report, student teams prepare a formal presentation of their project. In addition to the course faculty member and the team’s faculty advisor, these project presentations are delivered to an external team comprising employees from the client organization. As well as the field projects providing an excellent Application experience, they also provide an opportunity for students to develop and demonstrate Innovation and Communication skills. Greater detail regarding the Scope for the Field Study Projects may be found in Appendix E.

While the two previous examples highlighted dedicated courses specifically designed to develop students’ Communication and Application respectively, there are opportunities throughout the MBA programs for students to learn and develop skills in Innovation, Application and Communication. Such opportunities may occur within the scope of a specific course or may occur beyond traditional course boundaries. Illustrative examples, from across all MBA program options, are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Towards the end of their first semester, teams of Full-time MBA students from the course MGMT 510A: Communication for Managers and Professional Development, participate in a case analysis competition sponsored by Intel Corporation. In the preliminary round of competition, student teams compete against each other in presenting the assigned case to groups of faculty members. Appendix F provides the Intel competition evaluation rubric. Then, the top three teams present and compete in a final round that is judged by Intel Executives. Although Communication is the functional area of the course, the competition assesses students’ abilities in knowledge Application as well as their Communication skills. Eller Full-time MBA students have additional opportunities to participate in case competitions. During the 2011-2012 academic year, three teams from Eller competed in off-site case competitions. Competitions were held at Boston University, in Colorado, and a state-wide competition in Phoenix. Team Eller won the state-wide competition bringing home the ACG cup. To date, during this current academic year, two external case competition opportunities have been extended to Eller MBA inviting teams to compete.

In the Evening MBA program, the MKTG 500: Marketing Management course concludes with team presentations. A Business Communication faculty member attended these presentations in order to assess students’ Communication skills in addition to the Marketing faculty member assessing the Application of students’ Marketing knowledge. Strengthening communication skills was a motivating factor in the most recent revision of the Evening MBA program. Greater detail on the program revision process follows later in this section.

As might be expected in the Evening MBA program’s Project Management course, ample opportunities occur for Application and Communication. Communication is enhanced by students’ developing skills in MS Project (project management software). Appendix G provides a sample assessment, the Wedding Case, where students tackle the realistic project of planning a wedding, an Application of their formal Project Management learning.

The Capstone Project in the EMBA program is a project that demands Innovation, Application and Communication. The portions of the course syllabus that pertain to this capstone project are shown in Appendix H. Student teams select a well-known publicly-traded corporation. No two teams may select the same corporation. Teams prepare a strategic plan to launch an innovative product or service for their corporation. Plans include market and financial pro forma projections. While a written plan is submitted for evaluation by the faculty member, the plan presentations are evaluated by a panel that includes external business experts with expertise in awarding venture capital and evaluating innovative proposals.

The Assurance of Learning examples discussed above are ongoing assessment approaches. However, periodically one-of assessment efforts have also proved critically important to the MBA programs. One such effort was a peer benchmarking study of the Eller Evening MBA program both vs. evening programs offered by local peer institutions and vs. the Eller Full-time MBA. (Note: findings from this benchmarking study are discussed in the 2010/11 Academic Program Review document for a self-study that was undertaken for the Arizona Board of Regents.) Several deficiencies were identified in the Evening MBA program. Unlike peer institutions, there was no opportunity to specialize via a concentration of electives in a functional area. In addition, content in both marketing and finance was perceived to be less rigorous than offered by peer institutions. Following this benchmarking effort, a minor change was implemented in the Evening MBA program that enabled those students who so wished, to select two electives in a functional area for a concentration. This change became effective with the graduating class of 2012.

Next, in the academic year 2011-2012, an MBA task force was convened to consider all Eller MBA programs individually and comparatively. Faculty members on the task force represented all MBA programs and all academic departments. Data gathering was extensive. Focus groups were held with: MBA staff, faculty, students drawn from all programs across several cohorts, alumni, corporate partners including recruiters, and representatives from other MBA programs. The deficiencies (cited in the paragraph above) in the Evening MBA program vs. peers and vs. the other Eller MBA offerings were affirmed. This resulted in another revision to the evening program and the addition of one more semester of study. In this additional semester, there will be content that strengthens students’ Communication skills as well as a capstone experience that will enhance their knowledge Application and their Innovation. The task force carefully considered ways to strengthen Innovation across all MBA program offerings and consequently in the Full Time program second year a selective was introduced. This requires that students select an elective from a short list of course offerings in Technology and Entrepreneurship.

In summary, Assurance of Learning through course-embedded measurement and demonstration of stand-alone performance are ongoing and routine. However, these measures are supplemented with comprehensive, inter and intra program assessment on a periodic basis. The former have historically lead to minor program revisions or shifts in emphasis while the latter have provided the impetuous and knowledge to make more extensive curricula and program structure changes.

Updated date: Fri, 01/25/2013 - 06:46