The Master of Business Administration program at Augusta University is the signature graduate program of the Hull College of Business. A flexible program focused on supporting working professionals, MBA enrollment has increased 31% since fall 2016—and the program has even more room to grow.
The program offers a variety of tracks, including options for full-time students, part-time students, and asynchronous online students. The program’s online offering, the Hull Online MBA, was recently ranked the most affordable online MBA in the nation and is one of only seven MBA programs in the state included in the Georgia WebMBA initiative.
This flexibility and affordability, combined with prestige – the Hull MBA is accredited by AACSB International, a distinction earned by less than 5 percent of business schools worldwide – creates high demand for the program in the local community and beyond.
“Because the Augusta market has a large number of working professionals who desire an MBA to advance their careers, the choice of affordable campus and online options allows them to choose the program that best suits their circumstances and allows them to continue working while earning their degrees,” said Dr. Rick Franza, Dean of Hull College.
“As Augusta University and Business School, AU and Hull are proud to provide high-quality, affordable and accredited MBA programs for our working professionals.”
Alumnus John Rudenko, a recent Army veteran who graduated from AU with an MBA in August 2022, decided to pursue the program because of his passion for learning. He entered the MBA program with three degrees already, but wanted to try something new.
“At that time I had reached a point in the military where I felt like I was at a standstill in my personal development. So the MBA was just what I needed when I needed it,” he said.
“It gave me that extra personal and professional development and growth spurt I needed to get me through my last two years in the Army. It gave me something to focus on outside that I knew would matter and benefit me even for years to come.”
One of his favorite aspects of the program was something he thought of as the “cohort effect”: the closeness with peers that results from students sharing classes with other students who started the program around the same time.
“Some classes are a combination of both cohorts, full-time and part-time – some classes are only part-time – but the fact that you can learn, grow and develop with the same group of people over time over time, you form a lot of really good relationships.”
Rudenko now works for a cybersecurity company and said his MBA impressed his new employer.
“During my interview, I was able to talk about things like ‘strategic positioning’ and ‘competitive advantage’ – things that after the second question were just like, ‘OK, we want to offer you this job.’
The company plans to promote him to a role in finance or human resources early next year as part of a veteran transition program.
“Having that MBA on my CV is gold – just like how people react when I tell them I have an MBA. It wasn’t such a big deal to me at the time, but I look back and see it as a big achievement.”
Amber De Los Santos, an MBA student scheduled to graduate in December 2022, also appreciated the “cohort effect” of the program.
“It was great to build those relationships with your classmates. And I feel like it’s a lot different being in a master’s program compared to an undergrad because when we’re an undergrad, we’re 18-21, we’re hitting the ground running, we haven’t built our careers yet. We’re still bouncing around our jobs, doing retail or serving and bartending and things like that,” she said.
“But I feel like in the cohort we’re in, everyone is so established and the networking has been so helpful. I met so many different people in my cohort who helped me outside of school.”
De Los Santos chose to pursue the program to advance his career as a civil servant. As a full-time employee at Fort Gordon, she chose the part-time program and credits her courses and faculty with helping her earn a recent promotion.
After completing a civilian Army Internship Program in 2020 at the GS-9 level, she wanted to further her career. She targeted a GS-11 position in the spring of 2022, and when a budget analyst role came up, she expressed interest but didn’t feel confident enough to apply. That was until Melissa Furman, DBA, an organizational behavior instructor, convinced her to do so.
“I was applying for jobs and I didn’t hear much, but especially in Dr. Furman’s class, she really dived deep into self-growth and it was so helpful for me. The tools he taught about how to interview, how to present yourself, time management – these are just a few little things that I think really helped me get the new position.”
Now, as a budget analyst working on busy accounts for Army Public Works and Restoration Management, the classes she took in her MBA are paying back to support her day-to-day work at the site: especially her Managerial Finance course taught by Wendy Habegger , Ph.D. The class focused heavily on workbooks like Excel, which De Los Santos now uses daily.
“The class was very challenging, but she always made us learn more, do better and do more spreadsheet formulas and feel comfortable with it. And I was always thinking “When am I going to use a spreadsheet or these formulas next time?” Then six months later I got this new job and that was one of the things I was interviewed for. It’s so interesting to me that I can use what I’ve practiced before I even know I’ll need it.
Alumnus Jason Guilbeau, who will complete his MBA at Hull in June 2022, started the program hoping to broaden his perspective after 15 years working in research administration. He started the program part-time while serving as director of post-award services in the Department of Sponsored Programs Administration at Augusta University.
But as he finished his MBA journey, a potential opportunity for advancement presented itself: he qualified for an associate vice president position in his office that had been vacant for more than a year, despite several interviews with applicants. Although he had served as interim AVP for months, a master’s degree was a requirement for the position, so at the time of the vacancy he was ineligible to apply.
But when he finished his MBA in June, he decided to jump in and, after an extensive interview process, was named AVP for the Department of Sponsored Programs Administration and Executive Director of Augusta University’s Research Institute. He now leads an office of 27 grants, contracting and accounting officers that provide more than $135 million in annual funding to the university.
An accountant by profession, the MBA program gave Guilbeault a broader understanding of organizational management—a skill he will need more than ever as the new AVP.
“The skills you learn on your course during the MBA program give you a much broader perspective when making business decisions that have an impact on the entire enterprise. The knowledge and skills taught in Augusta University’s MBA program are really necessary to work at a higher level in a large organization,” he said.
And luckily, the schedule was flexible enough to fit into his busy life, both at work and at home.
“My work gets really hectic here and I’m often pulled into meetings at the last second. But I thought the program was really great and I thought from a time management perspective it was very doable. I think I have a pretty heavy workload and my wife and I have four kids and I still managed to do it.
Guilbeault also credits the program with helping him become a more empathetic leader.
“One of the things I’ve been guilty of in management is that I tend to focus more on work and tasks and maybe not on employee morale all the time. But I saw the value of being more engaged with the office culture and made an effort to do a bit more in that regard – to have more conversations with people,” he said.
“I’m really renewing my focus on connecting better with the team, not only through tasks and projects, but in other ways as well.”
Rudenko and De Los Santos praised the program for its diversity — and the amount they were able to learn not only from the faculty but also from their peers.
“You have such a wealth of diversity in your peer group. I think the only people I’ve worked with directly include a doctor, an engineer, another military, an international student, and one of AU’s athletes. The wealth of knowledge is endless,” Rudenko said.
“One of my good classmates, she’s a mother who just opened her own business,” De Los Santos added.
This huge variety of peers made teamwork something to look forward to, Rudenko said.
“Once you got through the teacher covering the material and having to work together, that was the best part – the teamwork that developed – and that’s how it’s going to be in business, right? So it’s going to be when you’re working on a project or managing an initiative or trying to close a sale, you’re working in teams, so I loved that experience.”
The future of the Hull MBA is bright, according to Dean Franza. The college plans to introduce new MBA majors and concentrations soon.
“Due to the density of health care professionals in the area, we are adding a health care management concentration to our MBA campus beginning in the fall of 2023,” Franza said.