FAQ - Master of Business Administration

 

What does the "i" in iMBA mean?

The "i" stands for "intercollege." The Penn State iMBA is a collaboration of four Penn State business schools:

The Smeal College of Business (University Park Campus, State College)
The Black School of Business (Behrend Campus, Erie)
School of Graduate Professional Studies (Great Valley Campus, Malvern)
School of Business Administration (Harrisburg Campus, Middletown)

When these campuses were planning to offer online MBA degrees, the president of Penn State recognized the potential for competition among the four programs. Rather than make students choose between programs, it was decided that the iMBA would be a collaboration of the business programs from the four campuses. Only full-time and tenured Penn State faculty members from these four business schools develop and teach the iMBA program content.

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Is the iMBA accredited?

All Penn State graduate programs are accredited by the Middle States Association. The Penn State iMBA also has AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation — the gold seal of business accreditation. The quality of the iMBA is consistent with the expectations you would have for Penn State, which has an outstanding national and international reputation as a research and teaching university. All iMBA courses are created and delivered by Penn State graduate faculty, faculty that also teach in the resident MBA programs.

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Is the iMBA program affiliated with Penn State's business school?

The Penn State iMBA is a collaboration of four Penn State business schools:

The Smeal College of Business (University Park Campus, State College)
The Black School of Business (Behrend Campus, Erie)
School of Graduate Professional Studies (Great Valley Campus, Malvern)
School of Business Administration (Harrisburg Campus, Middletown)

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How does the online MBA compare to a resident MBA program?

The online MBA program is similar to a residential program in that it incorporates the same quality and rigor you would expect of an on-campus program at a top research university. Because the Penn State iMBA is delivered almost entirely online, the main difference between the online program and a residential program is that you can choose when and where you complete the weekly course assignments. This flexibility allows you to earn an MBA from a respected institution while balancing the demands of your career and family. Even though the course content is delivered at a distance, students have said that they were pleasantly surprised to find that the level of interaction is even greater than what they might expect to find in a traditional bricks-and-mortar MBA program. In addition, because the program is not bound by location, you will be networking with other students working in a variety of industries from all over the world.

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What do employers think of the online iMBA?

Because the iMBA is an AACSB-accredited master's degree from The Pennsylvania State University, employers recognize the quality of this degree program. In a recent survey by The Wall Street Journal, Penn State was ranked #1 by corporate recruiters for having graduates who are well-educated and prepared to succeed once hired. In addition, graduates of the iMBA program have scored in the top 5% on a national MBA assessment exam demonstrating a high competency in advance management skills and tools that can be attractive to employers. In fact, our students and graduates represent top companies in a wide variety of industries from all over the world. Check out some of our exceptional students' stories.

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What will the iMBA diploma and transcript actually say?

Your diploma will state that The Pennsylvania State University grants you the Degree of Master of Business Administration in recognition of the completion of advanced study in business administration. Additionally, your transcript will be a Penn State transcript. Neither the diploma nor the transcript will differentiate the mode (online or otherwise) in which the courses or degree was completed.

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Is the iMBA right for someone from a nonbusiness background?

The curriculum in the iMBA is well suited for people with either a business or nonbusiness background. The first-year courses provide exposure to the fundamentals of business and an integration of functional areas within that foundation. In many ways these first-year courses develop and extend the fundamental concepts covered in an undergraduate business program. Subsequent courses provide additional depth and continue to focus on integration across functional areas of business.

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Can the GMAT or GRE be waived?

The GMAT or GRE requirement may be waived only if the applicant holds a doctorate-level degree. No waivers will be granted for work experience or existing graduate degrees other than those at the doctorate level.

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Why do I need to take the GMAT or GRE?

Applicants for the iMBA program come from diverse educational and employment backgrounds, and the GMAT and GRE provide a means for assessing each applicant against a common standard.

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When should I sit for either the GMAT or GRE?

Try to take your test at least four weeks prior to the admissions deadline. This will allow enough time for the admissions committee to receive your scores and review them as part of your application portfolio. If you plan to take your exam less than four weeks before the deadline, please contact our office so we are aware that your score will be received and to make sure there is enough time to review it before the cohort closes.

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May I retake the GMAT or GRE if I'm unsatisfied with my score?

You may retake the exam. Please contact our office to let us know if this is your intention — we want to be aware that a new score will be received and make sure there is enough time to review it before the cohort closes.

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How can I prepare for the GMAT or GRE?

We encourage you to try sample questions and attempt to simulate the exam through a practice test. Preparation has been shown to improve the mental approach to the GMAT or GRE exams, as well as increase knowledge about exam procedures and content.

The following official websites for the GMAT and GRE have preparation areas which provide resources and suggestions to help you prepare:

The Graduate Management Admission Council — GMAT
Educational Testing Services (ETS) — GRE

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What code should I use to submit my official GMAT or GRE score?

For the GMAT, submit your score report to Pennsylvania State University, World Campus, iMBA ZZ8-JW-99.

For the GRE, submit your score report by selecting the code 2660 for Penn State.

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How do I request my transcripts for admissions?

There are two ways to obtain your transcripts:

  • Most colleges and universities have online transcript request forms. Please visit the websites of each institution you attended and request two official transcripts or contact the registrar's office at each institution.
  • If you cannot order transcripts online or cannot find the transcript request procedures of your institution(s), you can use Penn State's convenient transcript request form and send it to the institution(s) where you've taken courses for credit.

Your educational institution(s) will either send the transcripts directly to Penn State (preferred) or send you a sealed envelope that you will then mail (unopened) to:

iMBA Program Office
The Pennsylvania State University
5340 Fryling Road, Suite 104
Erie PA 16510

The iMBA program requires two official transcripts from each institution you've attended. Applicants with foreign degrees must provide official transcripts in the language of instruction — with certified, English translation. The Penn State Graduate School accepts evaluations of foreign transcripts from Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., (ECE) only.

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How will my application portfolio be evaluated?

The admissions committee will consider your application portfolio as a whole with each requirement being used to make a broad-based assessment of your ability to succeed in the program. For information on how your application portfolio will be evaluated, please see the How to Apply page.

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What are the prerequisites?

While there are no official prerequisites, the iMBA program recommends previous course work in accounting, economics, math, and statistics, or knowledge of these subjects gained through work experience.

Exposure to these areas adds to the strength of your application portfolio. Many nonbusiness undergraduates do not have accounting experience, so an accounting orientation is provided prior to the beginning of the program. If you have not had courses in the areas mentioned above, you may still apply and have your application portfolio reviewed and even accepted.

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What are the technical requirements?

For a complete list of the most current software and hardware requirements for the program, please view the technical requirements.

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Do you accept transfer credits?

The iMBA program accepts up to 9 credits of graduate course work done at another accredited institution. Because the iMBA curriculum is fixed and follows a specific sequence, the content of transfer courses must directly match the content of iMBA courses. Previous graduate work must have been completed within five years prior to your being admitted as an iMBA degree candidate, must be of at least B quality, and must be listed on the graduate transcript of a regionally accredited institution. Credits earned to complete a previous master's degree may not be applied to a second master's degree program at Penn State.

Pass/fail grades are not transferable to an advanced degree program unless the former institution substantiates that a "pass" is equivalent to a grade of B (3.0) or better. Quarter credits must be converted to term credits.

Approval to apply any transferred credits toward the iMBA must be granted by the iMBA director and the Penn State Graduate School. To request transfer of credit, submit an official graduate transcript and the course syllabus (or a complete description of each course) to the iMBA office.

If accepted, transfer credits will reduce the cost of the program and the course load in some terms but will not speed student progress through the program. The lockstep construction of the iMBA curriculum requires 24 months to complete.

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How will I interact with the other students?

Students in the iMBA program use a variety of communication methods, including telephone (one-on-one and conference calls), email, online discussion forums (message boards, listservs, instant messaging, etc.), real-time conferencing software (Elluminate Live!), and two face-to-face residency experiences. As the program develops, specific interaction strategies are selected by the students to best meet their needs.

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How does a typical iMBA course operate?

To learn more about how online courses work in the iMBA program, see A Typical iMBA Course section of the website.

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How are assignments handled?

You will submit your iMBA course assignments to and receive feedback from your instructor, much like you would in a residential program environment. A Typical iMBA Course section of the website offers more information on how assignments are handled.

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May I work at my own pace?

The iMBA allows you to work at a time and a place that are most convenient for you. Learn more about budgeting your time in the iMBA program on A Typical iMBA Course page of the website.

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Will I be able to communicate with my instructor and get timely feedback?

You will have access to your instructor via all manner of electronic communication. To get an idea of how often you will interact with your instructor, visit A Typical iMBA Course section on the Courses page of the website.

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What support services are available to an iMBA student?

As an iMBA student, you will have access to an array of support resources such as:

  • program adviser
  • career services
  • technical support
  • library services

In addition, we will order your books and course materials and have them delivered to you as well as complete your course registration for each term. For more information on the support available for our students, please visit our Student Services page.

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What is meant by a student cohort?

Students enter the iMBA program as a cohort, meaning that they take the same courses at the same time, until the program has been completed. A common schedule with the same colleagues generates better discussion and more cohesiveness among peers, and allows for better integration of course content within and across terms.

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I still have further questions. Where can I learn more?

To learn more about the iMBA program, sign up for an upcoming informational webinar. Following an overview of the program by iMBA program chair, Dr. Ash Deshmukh, you will have the opportunity to ask questions as well as hear insights from a current student's perspective. Contact the program if you still have further questions.

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