2013–2014 Project-Based Master of Business Administration Program (PMBA)
Dean: Jin Wang
Program Chair: Kenneth Meland
Faculty: Richard Chapman, Jerry Van Os, Richard Parsons, Aric Krause, Kenneth Meland, Charla Brown
The project-based MBA program is specifically designed for students who require greater flexibility in course scheduling and program design, and offers demonstrated learning through real-world business application projects, instead of traditional courses, through which students build and master business concepts and leadership skills required to lead today’s and tomorrow’s world-leading businesses. Students are individually coached by faculty members to help build abilities and demonstrate mastery of business. The program is:
Project-Based: a student completes a total of 5 project sequences designed and sequenced specifically to measure student learning and accomplishment. Projects are based on current real-world business problems and analysis often contextualized to the student’s own firm or entrepreneurial venture.
Individual and Team-Based: students complete most projects individually to demonstrate mastery of associated business and professional competencies. Some projects are team-based to assist students in mastering leadership competencies, such as managing projects, leading and working in teams, and coaching.
Low-Residency: a student uses learning experiences and resources delivered via the Internet to master program competencies. A student attends two-day on-campus residencies once during each of the 5 project sequences, for a total of ten days of required on-campus attendance.
Faculty Coached: a student works directly with a Westminster College faculty member on an individual basis to provide project guidance and feedback. Faculty members also evaluate completed student projects to determine whether or not project learning is sufficiently demonstrated.
Students completing all program and college requirements earn a Master of Business Administration degree from Westminster College.
The program consists of five project sequences, comprised of a series of applied business projects, all of which must be completed with Westminster College. Each of the project sequences consists of several sub-projects and an integrative project. The projects build upon each other and are completed in the order specified. A student completes all projects to demonstrate mastery of the program learning goals and competencies. Each project has a set of rubrics, which explain precisely how the project will be evaluated upon its completion. A student can use this rubric to self-assess the project before submission. When a project sequence is successfully completed, the student can begin the next project sequence.
Dedicated faculty members are specifically assigned to assist students as they work in specific project sequences. Students and faculty interact regularly to effect learning. Each project sequence has a faculty coach who assists the student in learning experiences and in project completion and evaluation. Each student also has access to program assistants to assist with registration, billing, financial aid, project submission, technology systems, and any other questions about the program. A student is encouraged to utilize these resources whenever needed throughout the duration of the program.
When a student has completed a project, work is submitted to the Coach for evaluation according to the established project rubrics. A student is given one of three assessments for each of the competencies related to the sub-project and for the overall project: Exceeds project standards, Meets project standards, or Does Not Meet project standards. In all cases, the student is given substantial feedback on project performance. In the case that an assessment of “Does Not Meet project standards” is given, the student is given clear guidance from the faculity Coach and is allowed to use additional learning experiences to resubmit the work for additional evaluation. A student can submit their work a maximum of three times for evaluation.
Each project sequence includes a required two-day on-campus residency period. The residency consists of workshops, seminars, and simulations specifically designed to offer learning opportunities related to each project sequence. Residencies are scheduled at the beginning of each semester. Please consult the program website for specific information on residency schedules.
Learning experiences are provided to help the student master the knowledge related to specific competencies and learning goals as they relate to specific projects. All of the learning experiences can be accessed from the program website. A student is not required to complete any specific set of learning experiences. Learning experiences augment a student’s existing knowledge and experiences and can be engaged on an as-needed basis by the student. A student is strongly encouraged to consult with his or her project Coach as they are working on projects to figure out which sets of learning experiences are most useful, given the student’s background and experience. All learning experiences can be accessed by all students—even if a student is completing a later project, that student can refer back to learning experiences from other projects to help recall specific techniques and knowledge.
Project sequences are designed to be completed within one semester, meaning that a student can complete the requirements of the program within five semesters. A student who, for whatever reason, does not enroll for two consecutive terms must request reinstatement in the program, and will be subject to the tuition charges currently in effect. A student must complete a project sequence within a semester. If, at the end of the semester, the project sequence is not completed, the student may not be able to move to the next project sequence, and may be required to wait a full semester to continue in the program. In addition, students using federal financial aid may have difficulty with their financial aid eligibility if they require more than a semester to complete a project (see financial aid rules for more information). Staying in constant contact with the program assistant and project Coach helps avoid problems.
Students can resubmit work that is given a “Does not meet” evaluation, using the Coach’s feedback as a basis to better demonstrate mastery of the learning in the project. A student who, for whatever reason, is unable to demonstrate mastery of the competencies of a particular project after two full attempts will be asked to meet with their Coach. The Coach will work with the student to develop a realistic plan to identify those barriers that inhibit the student’s successful performance. This plan will then be engaged and the student will be given one additional attempt at completion. If the student is still unable to complete the project, the student may be suspended from the program.
A student who is suspended from the program may reapply for admission after two terms. A personal interview will be required before readmission is allowed, and, if readmitted, the student will be able to reenter the program at the current year’s tuition rate. The student will work with his or her coach to develop a specific progress plan. As long as the student fulfills the terms of the performance plan, the student will be allowed to complete remaining program requirements.
Faculty members in the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business have developed the following academic standards to support the mission and goals of this program. The goals are presented here to help the student understand responsibilities as a student throughout the program.
A student should always be familiar with project requirements and assignment guidelines to avoid problems. The student should take every opportunity to consult with his or her Coach to receive clarification when needed.
Collaboration is encouraged to enhance depth of learning; all submitted work must be the original work of the student.
A student should always be respectful of faculty, staff, and other students in the program.
The program is designed to be intellectually challenging, real-world oriented, and ability building. Students should push themselves, using every opportunity to participate and learn and get the most from the Westminster experience.
Plagiarism is a serious offense in academic and business settings. Plagiarism is a violation of the college’s academic policy. For further information on academic honesty, please see Academic Honesty page. A student who violates the academic honesty policy may be suspended from the program.
A candidate for graduation must consult their program assistant at the beginning of Sequence 3. The program assistant will assist the student in completing the application for graduation for the next graduation period in the following December, May, or August, depending on the actual date of application. To be eligible for graduation, a student must satisfy the following conditions:
- Complete each project sequence successfully with a minimum evaluation of “Meets project standards”
- Maintain an e-portfolio and receive a minimum evaluation of “Meets project standards”
- A student should consult either the assigned Coach or the program assistant at any point when questions arise about graduation requirements.