Which Graduate Degree is the Right Fit for You?

Which Graduate Degree is the Right Fit for You?

We heard from featured speakers Carol Fischer, David Kassnoff, Heather Harris and Rich Lee regarding the 100% Online MBA program, our Online MSL program and our Online IMC program.

The presentation included spotlights on each program and a live Q&A session with the audience.


00:05 Joe Micele: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today. This is our live panel discussion, "What degree is the right fit for you?" discussing St Bonaventure University Online's MBA, Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership, and Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications degree programs and helping you determine which is the right degree program for you.

00:33 Joe Micele: Before I introduce our panelists and speakers for you today, I would like to go over a couple of quick notes. Today's event is being recorded for future viewing. We will be emailing out the recording to you within 48 hours of today's webinar. You will also be able to access the recording on our website online.sbu.edu. You are currently in a listen only broadcast mode. Only our panelists are unmuted and able to speak. If you have questions, please type them in the questions box in the GoToWebinar window and click Send. We will have a Q&A session with our panelists after the presentation. Feel free to type your questions in during the presentation and we will address them accordingly during the Q&A session.

01:22 Joe Micele: We are joined today by a great group of panelists. We have four featured speakers today starting with Dr. Carol M Fischer, professor at St Bonaventure University's School of Business, David Kassnoff, interim dean of SBU's Jandoli School of Communications, Dr. Richard Lee, director of the Integrated Marketing Communications program, Heather Harris, assistant professor in the Jandoli School of Communications. We are also joined by Cynthia Love, an online admissions advisor at SBU. My name is Joe Micele and I will be your moderator today.

02:01 Joe Micele: Before I turn the presentation over to our panelists I'd like to quickly go through an agenda for today's session. We'll start with a brief program overview of all three programs, the Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership, and Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications. Then our featured speakers will provide you all with a brief introduction of themselves and then we will begin to discuss which degree is the right fit for you. We'll go over topics like what are you looking for? What are your skill sets? What are the career outlooks related to each of these degrees? Types of roles and the desired traits of employers. We'll then have our question and answer session. Then Cynthia Love will provide some details on the admissions requirements for each of the programs and what the application next steps are.

03:00 Joe Micele: Again, all three of our programs, the MBA, MSL, and IMC are 100% online. Our MBA is 42 credit hours for non-business majors and as low as 30 credits for business majors. The MSL is 33 credit hours and can be completed in as little as a year. The Integrated Marketing Communications program is also 33 credits and can be completed in as little as a year. Our MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business otherwise known as AACSB. Students have three tracks to choose from, Accounting, Finance or Marketing and they are also able to choose a general business track. Students develop skills and insights that build technical and professional knowledge while learning to consistently make morally and ethically sound decisions.

03:56 Joe Micele: Our MSL students graduate with a leadership portfolio. They focus on developing essential abilities that define today's transformative leaders and students learn strategic decision making and problem solving while developing advanced communication skills needed to lead with confidence and clarity. In the Integrated Marketing Communications program, students complete a comprehensive IMC plan as their thesis project. Graduates are creative, analytical problem solvers who research, strategize, and create marketing communications that deliver results and develop a strategic and creative thought process to become a persuasive and effective communicator. I will now go ahead and pass along to our featured speakers so they can begin discussing our three programs and helping you determine the right.

05:00 Carol Fischer: All right. Thank you. Good afternoon. I'm Carol Fischer. I'm a Professor of Accounting at St. Bonaventure and I'm pleased to join this program today. Just a brief background on me, I've been on the faculty at St Bonaventure for over 30 years teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level as well as holding certain administrative positions over this time. I've been teaching in the online MBA program since it launched and I've really enjoyed it, especially the opportunity to interact with students and to offer a program that has the same rigor as our face-to-face program but the flexibility to make it accessible to more people. So I'm pleased to be here today and with that I will pass it on to my colleague in the communications school, David Kassnoff.

05:55 David Kassnoff: Good morning. Good afternoon. Thanks for attending today. My name's David Kassnoff. I'm the interim dean of the Jandoli School of Communication. I have taught both graduate and undergraduate and [06:09] ____ students for about 20 years, the last seven of those at St. Bonaventure and have taught both online and in the classroom. And I'm happy to share some background about our programs and look forward to our discussion today. Let me hand this off to my colleague Heather Harris.

06:35 Heather Harris: Hello, my name is Heather Harris. I'm happy to be here with you today. I am an assistant professor in the Communications School. I am teaching both digital marketing as well as marketing research communications. I've been in higher ed for about 14 years now. Prior to higher ed, I worked in marketing and marketing communications for several well-known Fortune 500 companies. In teaching in higher ed, I have taught both undergraduate and graduate students. And I've taught the last four years in the online program. I teach several of the IMC courses including research and I also serve on the defense committees. With that, let me introduce Dr. Rich Lee, the program director for IMC.

07:29 Rich Lee: Thank you Heather, and welcome everybody. Thanks for taking part today. As Heather mentioned, I'm the program director for the Integrated Marketing Communications Program, and with that responsibility I also in teach the program. I've been a faculty member at St. Bonaventure since 2011. Before that, like many of our faculty, I had a long career in the professional world, in my case, a journalist for a number of years and then public relations. I spent most of my time in public relations, working in government public relations. So not surprisingly, those are the courses that I teach in the IMC program. I teach a public relations seminar and I work PR into most of my other courses.

08:12 Rich Lee: As director, I see the students mostly at the start and the end of the program, I'll work with you when you get started. For the last two years, academic years, I've taught IMC 500 which is the first course that everyone takes. It's kind of an overview of the program. And I've also taught IMC 800 which is the last course everyone takes, where students are finalizing their IMC campaign projects, presenting it to a panel of professors who serve as judges, defending it, fine-tuning it, and finishing up with their IMC degree. So I'm very excited to be part of this panel today and I look forward to your questions. And since I'm the last featured speaker, I think I will now turn it back to Joe.

08:56 Joe Micele: Excellent, thanks Rich. Okay, we will go ahead and begin discussing which... Discussing the three programs, and which of the three could be a right fit for you.

09:08 Carol Fischer: Alright. Well, this is Carol Fischer again. And I'll start by talking a little bit about the MBA program. The MBA program is designed to provide functional knowledge of business with technical content in several disciplines, as well as the development of soft skills, such as communication, team work, and understanding ethical issues in business. If you have an undergraduate degree in business, the foundation courses and one of our core courses will be waived for you. But if you don't have an undergraduate degree in business, don't have any formal background, the program also does provide these foundation courses to bring you up to speed. And I think that that's one of the nice attributes about our program, because it means you don't have to have formal business education to be able to pursue our MBA. Your general knowledge of business that everyone will get through the MBA program can also be supplemented by focusing in a particular track. So as Joe mentioned initially, we have tracks in accounting, finance and marketing, and you can develop specialized knowledge in those areas if you choose to pursue a track, which means that you select electives focusing in those particular areas.

10:36 Carol Fischer: Finally, I'll mention that the program is designed to prepare our students for success in any business environment, whether you're starting your own business or working in an established company. But we hope that our students throughout the program will develop and learn how to channel their entrepreneurial spirit so that they are able to solid contributors to whatever company they join right from the start. And so with that, I'm going to turn it over to Dave, who will elaborate on the MSL program.

11:10 David Kassnoff: Thank you, Carol. The Masters in Strategic Leadership program is designed to help you take some leadership abilities you may already have, either informally or perhaps from prior training or prior experiences in the military or other organizations and really refine those. We want to leverage your existing experience to help you establish yourself as a leader and recognize some of the demands and the solutions to being a leader. In real estate, you'll often hear people say the three most important things are location, location, location. In business and in running an organization, the three most important characteristics are leadership, leadership, leadership. In cycle leadership makes for a great working environment.

12:07 David Kassnoff: Leaders who don't encourage input and healthy debate, it's not always the most pleasant organization to work in. So the courses we have, we decided to give you insights into working with people from outside your traditional cultural experience, they're designed to help you understand how to manage and resolve conflict and give you the tools and the skills and the listening ability to become a change agent both within and outside your organization. And if you're looking to take the next step in your professional career with either a business or a not-for-profit organization, this is an excellent program to round out your skill set. I'm now going to hand it over to talk about our IMC Program.

13:00 Rich Lee: Hi Dave. This is... Thanks Dave. It's Rich Lee again and I wanted to talk just briefly about the history of the IMC Program which I think will kind of give you a clue into what we're all about. The program is about 15 years old and started before I was here. But the folks who started it really were forward thinkers. They took a look at where the communication industry was heading and saw there was going to be a need for people who had a wide variety of communication skills. No longer singular skills like someone graduating with an advertising degree, a PR degree, a marketing degree.

13:34 Rich Lee: The industry, the workplace was going to need folks who had all these skills in their tool box and knew had to use them. That's kind of the genesis of the IMC Program and they were correct in their thinking. The program has really flourished since it started. Our graduates are getting jobs and they were right. The employers now need people who can communicate in today's communication environment. So what we do at IMC, we teach you how to work in... We teach you a bit about advertising, about PR, about research, about marketing. But most importantly, we teach you how to integrate all them into a plan. That's why I often tell people the most important word in our title is integrated because you're not just going to learn and master a bunch of skills. You're going to learn how to use each of those skills to put together an integrated marketing communication plan which is going to make you very marketable in today's workplace. So thanks. And I think we're now going back to Joe.

14:43 Joe Micele: Okay. I think we're going to go back to Dr. Fisher to talk her outlook.

14:51 Carol Fischer: Okay good. That MBA is a strong credential. Most people have of course heard of the MBA. It is widely recognized and respected. Often it is the required or preferred credential in job postings for upper to middle to upper management positions, as well as many technical positions, particularly in finance or accounting areas. The salary that you will earn with an MBA degree can be quite attractive. Research indicates that the MBA generally results in a step up in pay once you have earned that MBA as well as higher pay that continues throughout your career. As indicated by the graphic that you can see, there are many jobs for those with an MBA. They vary considerably depending on the area of business that you decide to pursue. So the discipline within business. But we believe that our MBA program is designed to provide you with the credentials that you need and the background that you need to pursue many, many different careers. And with that, I will pass it on to Dave to talk about the MSL.

16:13 David Kassnoff: The MSL Program is your entree, for lack of better word, the door opener to moving from more functional roles to more strategic and leadership opportunities. Fast company obviously tracks businesses today. Their survey shows about a third of employers now want a Master’s degree as the educational requirement. The Master's Degree in many respects becomes today's bachelor's degree. Research shows that individuals with graduate degrees such as the strategic leadership masters perform well in communication roles, driving results, getting buy in from diverse teams and diverse workers and virtual teams and really inspiring excellence. They know how to leverage what has come to be known as emotional intelligence as a way to motivate and gain buy in both from their direct reports as well as more senior leaders above them. So it's a really valuable ticket to a career that lets you lead and trigger innovation in an organization.

17:53 Rich Lee: Okay. This is a Rich again. Just a few words about careers in IMC. Students primarily go in two different directions. A number of them get jobs in agencies, PR agencies, advertising agencies, and work with clients there, other people get hired by companies large and small and they become the point person at that company for all their communications needs. We've had graduates go to places like [18:19] ____ Chocolates, the Buffalo Bills some have been hired by shopping malls. Some people have their own small business and the get the degree and they use it to promote their own business or a family business. Other people work with their employer, even in larger companies, they get the degree and then they go back and they hopefully implement some of what they've done in the program into their real life experience with their jobs. One of my favorite stories about our graduates is we had two students who entered the program, didn't know each other, worked together on a couple of projects, realized they really worked well together. When they got their degrees, they opened up their own agency and did quite well for themselves.

19:11 Carol Fischer: Alright so I think we're going to move right into talking little bit more specifically about the types of jobs that you might move into with these different degrees. And as I begin to talk about it from the perspective of the MBA, I do want to acknowledge that there's quite a bit of overlap here. So some of the jobs that I will talk about from the MBA would also be jobs you could get with the other two degrees. And similarly, some of the jobs that they will talk about with the MSL and IMC, are jobs that would be open to people who have an MBA. So this one is not a real stark line between these different degrees. With that said those with an MBA can pursue many different types of consulting positions. Consultants are hired in strategic management for planning purposes. We also see people hired to do consulting in a marketing role, in a finance and accounting roles. So the consulting is relatively broad and you can see that the salaries in that area are quite attractive and they're the highest of the ones that we generally see for our MBA students.

20:37 Carol Fischer: Many of our MBA students go on to pursue careers in financial services in some place, those are also relatively lucrative careers that do require certain specialized skill sets. And of course, they also require someone to have very strong problem solving and analytical skills, as well as the other skills we talked about, communication, teamwork, etcetera. Finally, the last area that we highlight on the slide here is in technology. They say that probably at least half of the jobs that will exist 10 years from now don't even exist today because of changes in technology. For that reason, our MBA is geared toward developing that broad base of knowledge that you need to be able to adapt. And there are many opportunities in technology as well as manufacturing and various service industries so that our MBA students are well suited for positions across a variety of industries and in different kinds of settings.

21:58 David Kassnoff: Turning to the Master's in Strategic Leadership Program, the strength of this program, and what it enables you to do is basically earn more and lead processes that help organizations innovate and work smarter. In the Human Resources area there's a huge community for people who have the insights and understand current leadership concepts and principles. The Health Services industry has exploded with all the changes with regards to health insurance, regardless of what the current government solution is for healthcare, healthcare organizations are doing a lot of acquisitions of regional hospitals, creating alliances. And they need people to lead those organizations and lead them effectively. So there are opportunities there as well.

22:58 David Kassnoff: Also, the ability to analyze an organization and determine where its opportunities for improvement are, is something you get as result of the MSL program. And unlike a traditional business degree, an MSL masters gives you a good breadth of flexibility, to enter a variety of fields. The good news is you earn a little more. The Bureau of Labor statistics tells us that students who complete a master's program can earn, ballpark average, about $10,000 more a year in the US over candidates who only have a bachelor's degree. So, it’s a great springboard, both to opportunity, both financial opportunity, as well as the opportunity to grow with an organization, and really be part of its future. Rich?

24:11 Heather Harris: Oh, this is Professor Harris. I think I'll jump in here on this one.

24:14 David Kassnoff: Thank you.

24:16 Heather Harris: Yep. So for IMC graduates, all you need to do is a quick search of Indeed.com, and you'll see a plethora of new job titles popping up that didn't exist as little as 10 years ago. And those titles sound like integrated marketing communications manager, marketing communications specialist, PR specialist, consumer insights manager, content manager. All of these jobs have come about with the advent of the internet, or social digital technologies, and social media. And that's what our graduates focus on in the program, is learning how to engage these audiences with strategic marketing plans, as well as messages, both visual and verbal, which get results. So all of these roles require students to have diverse communication and marketing skill set that allows them to integrate their knowledge into several different departments of a company, or across several different organizations, and to build communications that is ultimately going to get the attention of the consumer.

25:39 Heather Harris: And these communications are not the annoying types of communications we may have seen in the past, but rather these organic communications that we see that seem to come at just the right moment to help the consumer out in the place that they're at. So the skill set that the IMC graduates leave our program with is one that's highly sought after by traditional companies that are getting into this realm, as well as newer companies, entrepreneurial companies and startups. So, with that, I think I turn it back over to Carol.

26:20 Carol Fischer: Alright. The last formal part of our presentation is to talk a little bit about the desired traits that employers are looking for from graduates, and to focus a little bit on those traits that are developed through these three different programs. When an employer hires an MBA, certainly they are looking for someone who has strong business and technical knowledge, but in addition to that, they want candidates who have strong communication skills, teamwork, time management, networking skills. And so I want to talk just a little bit about what our program does to help you to develop those skills. Our online MBA program is designed to systematically enhance these skills through not only the coursework, but also activities and assignments. Our online students, first of all, have to have very solid time management skills, because it requires quite a bit of self-discipline and time management to systematically work through the course material as the course progresses. The student works independently a great deal of the time.

27:36 Carol Fischer: On the other hand, we help you to develop your ability to work with other people, your teamwork skills, through specific assignments and activities that actually puts you into teams. You also end up working with other people through your participation on discussion boards, where you will communicate with one another back and forth, and so that is something that not only allows you to work with somebody else, but also to develop those communication skills so that you can very clearly communicate your intent to another person. Finally with respect to networking, while the program is one that allows each student to progress at his or her own pace, what I have found is that many of our students take classes with many of the same people.

28:34 Carol Fischer: So I've often found in my class that in some of the initial discussions, students are saying, "Oh, it's nice to meet you again." Or, "It's nice to see that you're in this class again." And you can tell that those students have started to develop relationships with one another. And I think that that is part of the network that you need to be successful in the business world. And our MBA program is one of those places where you can continue to build and grow that network. And so with that, I'll turn it over to Dave to address this topic for the MSL.

29:13 David Kassnoff: Thank you, Carol. Employers want leaders, managers, supervisors, executives who can not only interpret the senior leadership's vision, but also be visionary in their own ways, and build teams that are agile and teams that can identify opportunities before they emerge. And no one wants to be caught flat footed. So an organization that has visionary leaders is able to jump on an opportunity ahead of the competition. Some of the other skills that employers look for that come through our MSL program, we equip you to learn to seize initiatives and to build consensus, and set direction. Those are all sort of interconnected. The process of getting an organization or a team to buy in on a path forward should engage them in healthy debate, should engage them in sharing ideas and insights from their culture. And should also equip you to deal with conflict, because sometimes, discussions can get very spirited, sometimes, even heated. And in those cases the effective leader knows how to manage that situation. Hopefully, head off or diffuse the conflict and get to the nugget or the core of the great ideas. And the great ideas lead to innovation, which is what every organization wants.

31:04 David Kassnoff: And so the tools we give you in our program focus on inspiring creativity, cultivating diversity of thought, and leading a process or processes that encourage creativity that reflects diverse ways of thinking. Many studies have shown that diverse teams with input from people from a variety of different backgrounds, often create new products or new services more often and more successfully than homogenous teams, where everyone is alike and thinks the same. So in our program we do devote some energy to diversity and leadership, to help you channel the ideas in your organization to reflect diverse thinking, because the world and the customers that most organizations deal with are more diverse than ever. Rich?

32:07 Rich Lee: Yeah, I think Heather wanted to...

32:11 David Kassnoff: Okay. Heather. Go ahead, that's great. [chuckle]

32:13 Heather Harris: Yep, no problem. Well, as I mentioned earlier, the IMC graduates develop a diverse skill set that makes them very valuable to employers in today's workplace. From listening to the audience, to building relationships across disciplines, IMC graduates develop, what we like to call or think of as, a customer centric mindset. It puts them in touch with the audiences that they're making the communications for and enables them to engage these audiences with relevant messages. With the point of those messages achieving the strategies and goals of the companies they're developing them for. In so doing, graduates also develop skills in things like conceptual thinking, and communicating objectives through the appropriate use of aesthetics that are going to quickly communicate to consumers, or engage consumers.

33:18 Heather Harris: Students will develop skill sets in visual communication, as well as research. All good decisions are made and based in research. So research becomes a key skill set that gets developed as well. And all of this being customer centric around that customer. Last but not least, is the idea of analytics and being able to measure the engagement with the customer using key industry platforms, such as, Google Analytics or some social media metrics, many of the social media metric platforms that are out there. So students graduating from the IMC program really develop a nice rounded skill set in both visual communication, conceptual development, research and then analytics using the tools of the analytics today that are found in the market place. I think now, I kick it back to Joe.

34:26 Joe Micele: Great, thank you. Thank you everyone for your presentations. We're now going to go ahead and begin our Q&A. Again, please type your questions in the questions box in the GoToWebinar window and click send. You can go ahead and ask questions of any of our speakers and panelists. Let me go ahead and dig into the questions here. We have one, and I think this might be actually a good one for almost our entire panel. "I'm currently an advertising planner at a major cable company for both TV and digital. I've been doing this for three years, and I've done broadcast television traffic for 12. My goal is to improve my skill set, especially in the digital advertising arena, but also to make myself more promotable in my company, but not necessarily all the way to the executive level. With those two goals, would you recommend the MBA with the marketing track, or the IMC? I'll certainly get more tools for my current position with the IMC, but would the lack of an MBA hurt me as far as going up to the next level?"

35:37 Carol Fischer: I'll give a little bit of input here, although I'll also ask a question back. This is Carol, and I do think that the MBA with the marketing concentration certainly would be a valid option for you. Some of the courses that are offered with the marketing concentration could certainly help you to further develop some of those skills. With that said, I would talk to the HR person in your company, as well as your supervisor or manager to ask their opinion about whether there's a preference between one degree or another. I think we've seen our graduates from Saint Bonaventure be very successful with both the IMC and the MBA with marketing concentration degree, so I think either could meet your needs and help you to advance in your career, but if your company has a preference, I would certainly take that into consideration.

36:51 Rich Lee: Yeah, I would pick up, this is Rich, on that last point that Carol made. It's kind of a difficult question for us to answer, I think some of it's going to depend on your situation there at your company, where you want to go, where your company's heading. I can tell you that I think the IMC degree would give you a chance to maybe step back and look at your company objectively, and maybe come up with some ideas to help promote it a bit better. I know in my own case, I spent most of my career, as I said earlier, as a journalist working in public relations. When I went back to school to earn my PhD, I found it was a really valuable experience to kind of take a break from what I was doing and just look at it from the outside. And I think whether it's IMC or MBA or MSL, when you go and seek a graduate degree, in addition to the skills you learn, I think it just gives you a different perspective of your company, where you fit in, and I think it will be a great guideline for your future.

37:52 Heather Harris: I'd like to jump in here too. I think this is an excellent question that has been posed and once again, I would agree it's difficult for us to answer, but maybe we can offer you a way to think about it. And I think both degrees are excellent, the MBA, the IMC, both will lead you to success. I think, as Rich and Carol have both said, you want to look at your specific situation, you want to look at where you are able to move in your company, if you want to stay with your company or if you want to move outside of your company into other areas. Then I think I would ask myself, what is the areas that you want to move up in? Both of these degrees are master's degrees, and so by their nature, you are looking to master a subject. And so, are you looking to master a subject in the communications area? Then I would say the IMC degree is good. Are you looking to master a subject in the business and marketing area? Then I would say an MBA is a good degree. So maybe just turning the lens and thinking internally, what is it that you're looking to master that you would like to take forward either in your company or in the marketplace, might be a good way to help you answer the question.

39:19 Joe Micele: Great. Thank you. Now, we'll move onto another question here. Dr. Fischer, this one I think would work best for you, how much quantitative background do I need for the MBA program?

39:34 Carol Fischer: Alright. Well, that's actually a question that we hear fairly often from students who are a little bit concerned about the math, perhaps haven't taken a math course in quite some time or aren't necessarily very confident in their quantitative skills. The good news is that the amount of quantitative background that you need and the extent to which quantitative material is emphasized depends a little bit on your focus. For the General MBA, the amount of math you need is really just introductory level college math. So if you took almost any college math class, you may well be pretty well positioned for the MBA and have sufficient skills, say algebra. You do not need calculus, for example, to progress through the MBA degree. We do have a foundational course in quantitative methods that covers the basic math and statistics, so if based on your background, you either never took, say, any statistics class or didn't take a college level math class, or it's been so long that you're not confident that you remember it, that course would bring you up to speed and you would have the sufficient background to move through the program.

41:08 Carol Fischer: If you decide that you want to focus in particular in the finance area, or if you're heavily research oriented, you may run into more quantitative type courses, but they will not again require you to have calculus as a background or theoretical math as a background. It would be more applied math, and most of it you really would be able to work through with the foundational course. And we also use a lot of tools like Excel for many of these computations. So hopefully, that puts to rest any concerns you might have with respect to quantitative skills.

42:00 Joe Micele: Great. Thank you. Moving along to another question here. This one for IMC Faculty. What are the creative requirements, if any, in the IMC Program?

42:15: Heather do you want to take that one? Yeah.

42:17 Heather Harris: Yeah yeah, sure. I'll answer that one. You do not need to be an artist to be in this program. However, part of communication is not just verbal, but it is also visual. And so we do like to emphasize in the program conceptual thinking when it comes to developing messages to engage audiences. I think just a quick look at the landscape today would show you that almost every message probably hits you first with a very strong visual. And so your ability to understand why a visual is important, to understand the basic principles of visual design, the use of white space, the use of image, the use of a tagline or a headline that is very engaging and captivating are all things that are a key part of communications process. And so we do have, you go through several courses with advertising and advertising design, where you get to work with our fabulous award winning advertising executive who helps you conceptualize and come up with messaging ideas as well as strategies that would engage the audiences.

43:39 Heather Harris: And so, do you need to have any specific skills? No, you don't. We develop those skills along the way. What you do need is a little bit of an adventurous spirit and the ability to dive in and say, "What is the best way to communicate something?" So some of the visuals that wind up getting created in our program are print ads, story boards for television, infographics that could be used on websites or in blog posts, social media posts, the types of things that you yourself are probably consuming on a daily basis. These things are not, they do not have to be professional quality. They need to be the quality enough to communicate to the constituents that you would be selling your plan to, and many times, that is the executives of a company and/or of an advertising agency. So you're not producing production ready things, but you are producing things that communicate very clearly what it is that you would like the messaging to look like. I hope that answers it. It is a little bit conceptual and artsy, but you certainly don't need to be an artist to be in this program.

45:05 Joe Micele: Great, thank you very much. Here's a question for, I think David, and Carol would probably both be able to weigh in on this one. Which do you feel would be a better program to pursue? I have a military background and I'm considering the MBA and the MSL.

45:29 Carol Fischer: I'll answer first and then let David weigh in with his opinions. Just knowing that you have a military background may not be enough for me to determine which of the programs is better for you. It depends to a large extent on what your long term goals are. I will tell you that we've had a number of people come through our program, the MBA program with a military background that typically is appropriate if what you would like to be able to do is to move into a position in middle or upper management, and especially if what you want to do is to develop your functional business knowledge so that you have good knowledge of accounting, finance, management and marketing, so that you are in a position where you could take on some sort of a managerial role. For those people, we found that the MBA is a good fit.

46:38 David Kassnoff: The MSL side of the coin tends to place an emphasis on ethical decision making, recognizing the opportunity to build a diverse team, a diverse organization, and also, frankly, a little bit of focus on work life balance. And that reflects again this idea of emotional intelligence, trying to understand what each member, each employee on your team, what's important to them, and maybe what's going on in their lives beyond the workplace. We tend to emphasize developing skills by which you become an agent for change and help your organization achieve a shared vision, which may echo somewhat your military background. But it also reflects leading people by recognizing the skills that each member of your team has to offer and understanding how to deal with conflict and understanding how to champion diversity in an organization, which is increasingly a skill that senior leaders look for as they compete in a globally diverse marketplace. That's a little more insight into the MSL degree.

48:13 Joe Micele: Okay, thank you. Moving on to another question here. This is another one for our IMC faculty. Can you tell me more about the thesis project I heard mentioned earlier in the presentation?

48:26 Rich Lee: Yeah. I'll start off and then Heather may want to add her comments as well. But as part of your requirement for the degree, students work with a real client and they put together an actual integrated marketing communication plan. You work with your client throughout the program. We don't have a deadline for when you have to identify one. But, I always tell students, the earlier you can select a client, the better because then, as you're taking classes in the program, the strategy course, the research course, you can kind of gear your assignments towards what you're going to be doing with your client. So that when you get to the end and you're putting your IMC campaign book together, you'll have some of the work done. And you can do that. It's a project that you're going to work on outside of class. Time management is very important. You're going to be doing research, which I'm sure Heather can speak to a little bit better than I can. But the research takes time. You have to allow time for approvals, time to analyze it. But the research really drives everything that you do. So you need to manage your time so that when you get to your last semester, your research is done. Your creatives are almost done and you can put everything together. In your final semester, you'll present your plan.

49:45 Rich Lee: If you're a main campus student, we do them here on campus. The online students, we're in the process of doing them now. We do them remotely. You can sign on and we do them through video conferencing. Although, some students who live not that far from campus, choose to actually come here and defend. But you'll present your plan to three professors who play the roles of the decision maker in your company. You need to convince them to put their company's name, to put their company's reputation into your plan and it's a lot of back and forth. You'll submit an early draft. You'll get feedback from the judges. You'll do your presentation. You'll get more feedback. And you're constantly revising and updating until you end up with a book that you're proud of, that we're proud of and that when you go into the job market, you can bring the book with you or an electronic copy and show people the exact type of work that you can do and that you're going to do for their company. So Heather, would you like to add anything to that?

50:41 Heather Harris: Yes, Rich. That's a great description of the project and I would say, from my experience, this project replicates the exact process that I went through multiple, multiple times with executives in companies where you are presenting them your ideas, your communication pieces, your strategies and trying to convince them that this is the messaging we need to put into the marketplace. This is the amount of money we need to put behind it. And then the results that would be achieved which are usually audience engagement, share results, sales results, and things like that that companies are looking for. So what I think is wonderful about this thesis project, not only do you have this wonderful portfolio piece that you can show to any prospective employer that immediately communicates the depth of your knowledge of the subject, but it also prepares you for the exact scenario that you will be in, in the workplace. You'll feel very comfortable and you'll be used to the strategic thinking that goes into such a project.

51:47 Heather Harris: You'll be used to the type of questions that get asked in this type of presentation by executives. And you'll be used to basing all of your decisions on fact and research and data versus just on gut and that's what makes a really valuable employee and that's why the IMC graduates are valuable to employers.

52:14 Joe Micele: Great, thank you both very much. Another question here. For you, Dr. Fischer, how important is it to have a business background in the MBA program?

52:25 Carol Fischer: That's a good question. We have certainly a good number of students who come into the MBA program with a business background but it is not necessary. The business background does help some students to be able to relate topics to their own experiences or to their own company. But it's not mandatory because we do have foundation courses that will help to bring someone up to speed if they don't yet have that business background. But it probably is helpful to know that in the online program, most of our students do have at least some work experience, even though it might not be in a technical business area.

53:14 Carol Fischer: For example, I had a student last semester who did very well in the course that she took from me and I think is going on to do well in the program. And her background was that she had worked as a salesperson in Old Navy. So in that capacity, she didn't really have what most people would characterize as a strong business background because she hadn't gotten into any management type roles or done any technical work. On the other hand, she was able to relate a number of things that we talked about to what she had observed and it helped her to even understand some of the things that she had observed in her capacity while she worked at Old Navy. So business background helps, but it is not necessary.

54:07 Joe Micele: Great, thank you very much. Looks like we're approaching the end of our time for today's event, so we will go ahead and end our Q&A session here. Little further on here before the end, we will give some details on how, if you should have any additional questions, you might be able to reach out and ask those. But we'll go ahead and turn things over to Cynthia Love to provide some information on admission requirements and the application next steps for all three programs.

54:39 Cynthia Love: Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us today. I'm going to go over the admissions requirements as Joe mentioned. For our MBA, there's no GMAT or GRE required for applicants with a 3.3 to 3.0 GPA, also with two years of relevant work experience that is to be determined by the program director. You will need your baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university as well as transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, and a completed resume.

55:10 Cynthia Love: For the MSL program, a short essay is required. Just really state your goals for engaging in this type of learning experience. Again, your baccalaureate degree is needed, as well as your transcripts and your current resume, in this case, that shows at least three years of working experience. Finally, for the IMC, you will be required to submit a short essay that will describe what attracted you to the IMC field and why you want to pursue a degree at SBU. Of course, your baccalaureate degree will also be needed from your accredited college or university, as well as transcripts from all institutions attended.

55:52 Cynthia Love: Now, we are ready for our next steps. We will be more than happy, either myself or my colleague Kristen, to have a wonderful conversation with you to discuss your goals and how the program of your choice will assist you with accomplishing those. Also two, please submit your completed application, your transcripts and resume as well. Our next term does begin May 14th. The application deadline is the 27th, which I believe is this Friday, so we do have another term after that that will begin July 2nd. Please feel free to contact us and learn more about starting your application and moving forward. Please email or call us. Thank you so much for attending today.

56:41 Joe Micele: Thank you, Cynthia. Thank you again to our speakers and our panelists, and thank all of you for taking the time to join us today. We hope you found today's session helpful and informative and that your questions were answered. You can always reach out to your online admissions advisor for any assistance. And also, if you still may have some specific questions for our panelists that you might not have thought to ask today, you can email them directly at their appropriate email addresses provided on the screen. We also have today's presentation attached as a handout, which you can find in the go to webinar window. You will be able to click on those links within that handout to be able to access those email addresses directly.

57:24 Joe Micele: Again, today's presentation and Q&A was recorded and the recording will be emailed out to you. You will also be able to access through our site at online.sbu.edu. Thank you all and have a great rest of your day.