Photo courtesy Roosevelt University
Brian Walker, assistant dean of graduate studies at Roosevelt University’s Heller College of Business.
An interview with Brian Walker, MBA, assistant dean, Graduate Studies of the Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration at Roosevelt University in Chicago and Schaumburg
Q. Given today’s economic and job market, does it still make sense to pursue a postgraduate degree?
A. Actually, it makes more sense now more than ever. When there is a tight job market, employers can and will look for the best talent they can find to fill their open positions. They are able to ask for more experience and educational credentials. I tell our students to look at the positions they want to have and look at what the educational requirements are … and in most cases, a master’s degree is what employers are expecting for managerial and senior level positions. Graduate degrees still improve earnings potential somewhat and mitigate unemployment risk. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lifetime earnings for master’s degrees exceed bachelor’s degrees by about $500,000. Unemployment for college educated employees is at four percent versus those without college is at 7.9 percent.
Q. Does an MBA still carry the same weight in career advancement as it did a decade ago?
A. Yes. Having the business skills, acumen, and understanding of executive and senior level managers will always be important — whether you wish to climb the corporate ladder or be an entrepreneur. It would be difficult to replace the MBA for professional career preparation. The degree has been shortened due to market forces over the years, but it remains the best way to learn about all the functions of business. Specialized master’s degrees offer a deeper investigation into a specific topic or topics. While there may be ways to improve the MBA, there are no substitutes.
Q. What should one consider before embarking on an advanced education program?
A. I tell potential students to put together their own personal set of criteria ... things that are important to them. They should get input from their family, friends, mentors, co-workers and supervisors. A list can include things like time to completion, tuition cost, scholarships, funding, location of campus(es) (or online), faculty background, curriculum, evening/weekend course availability, etc.
They should also take stock of their own capabilities and goals to determine which advanced degree or concentration is most appropriate for them. Once they take these things into consideration, it will help them make a more informed decision about what program works best for them.
Q. Would a post graduate program be a viable route for someone who is in a job transition?
A. Yes. Many of our students are ‘transitioning’ -- whether from one industry to another, from one business functional area to another (i.e., from accounting to operations), or whether within their own companies to higher levels of responsibility and management. If in transition from one job to the next, the cost of the program could be a limiting factor, but many programs have scholarships for applicants with a variety of criteria. Finding the schools you are interested in and then asking about special scholarships and their criteria could help locate funding.
Q. What should people be wary of when choosing a post graduate or executive education program?
A. I think that potential students should make sure they choose the program that will meet their own personal needs and make certain the program(s) are important to what their professional and career goals are. If they do this, they should find a program that is a positive experience and sound educational investment. They should check for relevant accreditations and the specialties of the university. Students should ask lots of questions and consider the value propositions of the programs they are considering.
Q. What types of programs does Roosevelt offer for those looking to get in the executive track?
A. The Heller College of Business at Roosevelt University has several educational options for business professionals including an MBA program with a wide variety of concentration options, several specialized master’s degrees in Accounting, Accounting Forensics, Human Resource Management and Commercial Real Estate Development. We also offer various graduate credentials such as Commercial Real Estate Development, Business Fraud Examination, Managerial Leadership and Business Analysis for those wishing to build skills in these areas.
Short course executive seminars are available throughout the year on various business topics.
•You can contact Brian Walker at (312) 281.3313 or (847) 619-8825.