Newswise — A new MBA program unlike any offered in the area is drawing immediate interest for Augustana University.

“It’s been amazing to me,” said Jaciel Keltgen, associate professor of business.

“I got calls right away from current students, and we’ve started to receive applications for 12 spots available in the first cohort. We have also received dozens of inquiries from the community about the two-year program.”

Augustana will be offering two MBA program models. In one model, which begins fall of 2020, current Augustana undergraduates can apply in their junior year for a 4+1 program, which will allow them to graduate in five years with an undergraduate degree in any area as well as the MBA. Current Augustana students pursuing the 4+1 option have until Feb. 15 to apply.

“The 4+1 program is designed to provide students with advanced course work, the opportunity to be mentored by top business leaders, and real-world business experience,” said Marcia Entwistle, associate professor and chair of the departments of business administration and computer science.

“Students may begin taking graduate MBA courses during their fourth year of undergraduate study at Augie and complete both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years. With the care of inspirational faculty, students will build upon their business knowledge to help them prepare individualized paths to success."

The second model, an innovative two-year MBA program designed for working professionals, will start in the summer of 2021. The deadline to apply for the two-year program is Feb. 15, 2021, and is open to anyone. Space will be limited to 18 students in the first cohort.

For those interested in learning more about either program, Augustana will hold an informational session Feb. 6 at 10 a.m., in the Madsen Center, room 201, which is located on the Augustana campus.

“We’re very selective, and business professors believe applicants for the two-year program need a bit more time to pull together the requirements, including taking the GMAT exam, and submitting letters of recommendation, college transcripts and an essay,” Keltgen said.

Launching an MBA program ties directly to Augustana’s strategic plan, Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030, which includes developing innovative graduate and undergraduate programs that are responsive to new and emerging student interests and community needs. The program is designed to be distinctive, rigorous and focused on excellence, leading students to a transformational experience versus a transactional one.

The hallmark of the Augustana MBA program is its Leadership Academy, which will align students with mentors in their respective fields, providing an invaluable link between classroom learning and on-the-job realities, while integrating learning to address specific public and business challenges.

Mentors will represent a variety of industries, including healthcare management, family and community services, financial technology and entrepreneurship, and real estate and commercial development.

“Augustana is fortunate in that we have great specialization and extremely focused, successful entrepreneurs and professionals in those areas, and Augustana MBA grads are going to be especially well-prepared to lead businesses in those areas,” Keltgen said.

The capstone course and project will be a real-world, authentic experience allowing the student to help address an issue the mentor is experiencing in his or her business.

“We think it’s going to be powerful,” Keltgen said. “Students will be serving as consultants and giving back to the community while addressing serious, real-world business problems. The students I’ve talked with are thrilled about that, and the prospective mentors are as well. They’re excited for the fresh, new ideas and energy the students bring to their business, and they’re looking forward to sharing what they’ve learned and investing in the Sioux Falls business community.”

Keltgen and others in the business department have begun meeting with potential professional mentors and Augustana invites those interested in learning more about the Leadership Academy to contact Keltgen at [email protected]

“We’ve already identified about 250 people we think would be excellent mentors, so we’re going out and meeting with them and talking about how much time is involved, plus there will be training and screening,” she said.

The coursework in the 39-credit MBA program will be delivered using a hybrid model that combines traditional face-to-face classes with online work. All students must have foundational coursework in economics, accounting and computer systems. Future courses include leadership in the global economy, introduction to strategy and managing a diverse workforce.

“This MBA is not just for people who have graduated with a business or economics degree,” Keltgen said. “We really encourage those who have graduated with a liberal arts degree to think about the MBA. Maybe they feel there’s no room to advance where they’re working, or if they take more of a business focus, they might have more opportunities. And sometimes it’s people who want to make a total career change.”

Applicants are encouraged to gain some work experience prior to beginning the two-year program.  

“We don’t put restrictions on how long you need to have been in the workforce, but the goal is to share some work experience in class discussions,” Keltgen said. “And it’s important to know the direction you want to take your career – whether you want to work in a leadership capacity where you’re managing people, for instance, or whether you want to be the person analyzing data and evidence.”

While the two-year program is a full-time program, it is designed for working professionals. All students are eligible to apply for financial aid.

There’s a solid job market once students earn the degree, Keltgen added. A survey of U.S. businesses by the Graduate Management Admissions Council found 77 percent of employers planned to hire people with MBAs this year. The median income for workers doubles with an MBA compared with a bachelor’s degree.

“If you're still not sure the time, energy and cost are worth it, I would just share that it’s been my experience that business leaders need to quickly and accurately analyze large amounts of information,” Keltgen said. “Graduate business education provides an effective framework for examining problems and developing effective strategies to solve them.”

To learn more about Augustana’s new MBA program, visit