A new player has entered the crowded field of schools offering MBAs in the Tri-Counties — and this one is hoping to make a buck at it.
DeVry University, the school whose publicly traded Illinois parent firm made $280 million in net income during fiscal 2010, has opened an Oxnard location at 300 E. Esplanade Drive and plans to begin classes in July, including courses that would lead to an MBA. The classes are aimed at working professionals.
DeVry joins four other institutions — California Lutheran University, CSU Channel Islands, Pepperdine University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — in offering an MBA in the Tri-Counties. Schools have rushed to meet demand as students opt to seek more education during a tough job market.
The MBA explosion has not been without its conflicts, however. Last year, Cal Poly and CSUCI both made a land grab to offer a night-and-weekend MBA in Santa Barbara. (UC Santa Barbara does not offer an MBA, though it does offer a technology management program that blends business and engineering.)
Both CSU campuses claimed Santa Barbara as their rightful territory. In the end, the dispute boiled up to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, who handed Santa Barbara to CSUCI. In the meantime, Pepperdine University, the private Christian school with its flagship campus in Malibu, crafted an agreement with a UCSB alumni group to hold classes on the UCSB campus. Pepperdine also has a campus in Westlake Village where employed professionals can work on their MBA.
Whether they’re public or private, the schools vying to mint managers have up until now been nonprofits. But their moves were in response to a revenue opportunity — all of the MBA programs at the public schools are totally supported by student tuition and fees, rather than taxpayer funds, and can shrink or grow as the market for the degrees allows.
DeVry spokesman Dan Dement said the school, which lets students mix and match online and in-person courses, noticed a surge of demand from Ventura County in the form of commuters to its nearest Los Angeles County location.
“We realized we were getting a number of people coming down the Highway 101 corridor to attend our Sherman Oaks location,” Dement said. “The most logical area for us was to pick the Oxnard-Ventura area because it would not only serve that county but also L.A. County and Santa Barbara as well.”
Dement said the school is hoping to attract students to its MBA program by being quick and adaptable. He said classes are offered on a rolling basis and start every eight weeks, an advantage for students who need to begin a program on short notice or need to take a break from course work when life intervenes. “We have a very seamless offering,” Dement said. “The flexibility of mixing online and on-site is something our students tell us they value very highly.”
But DeVry will have to go head-to-head with established competitors offering a range of price points and complex set of locations. CLU, though based in Thousand Oaks, has seen booming demand at its Oxnard campus near Highway 101. And CSUCI, though based near Camarillo, has been adding students to its MBA courses at its Thousand Oaks facility, where it has offered its program for three years now.
CSUCI will start MBA classes in Goleta this fall, said Janet Egiziano, the associate director of the MBA program at the school. So far, CSUCI is on track to start with a cohort of 20 to 25 students who will move through the program together.
“Word is getting out. There’s not an MBA at UC Santa Barbara,” Egiziano said. “We feel like by next fall, we’ll probably have two cohorts running. It takes a while for word to get around and for people to be prepared to enter the program, because it’s an intensive program.”
CSUCI has also reached a deal with Santa Barbara City College to offer a bachelor’s degree in business in Santa Barbara. SBCC offers an associate’s degree in business, but not a bachelor’s. UCSB offers degrees in economics, including one with an accounting emphasis, but no business degrees.
“Students would come into the programs as juniors,” Egiziano said. “They would start their degree at City College, transfer to Channel Islands to get their bachelor’s degree and never have to leave the City College campus.”
Pepperdine was first to the punch in with core MBA classes in the Santa Barbara area. It worked with a UCSB alumni group to host classes at the Mosher Alumni House on the UCSB campus on weeknights with weekend courses in Westlake Village.
Gary Mangiofico, associate dean of fully employed and executive programs at Pepperdine, said the school has an initial class of 24 students that started in January and about 90 people interested in taking courses starting this fall.
He said the program has attracted UCSB alumni and garnered support from the chambers of commerce in the area as well as human resources groups. It has attracted students from big organizations such as Raytheon, Procter & Gamble, Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Santa Barbara Foundation.
“We’ve had a very positive reception from the market,” Mangiofico said. “In general, the students are a little bit older. That’s part of our pedagogy for teaching — that people are able to take the academics and their class experience and translate that into real world applications at their business.”
• Contact Stephen Nellis at [email protected]