The Graduate School of Management offered Katrina Dickinson flexibility when she needed it most.
Dickinson, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Accounting Analytics program who majored in comparative religious studies as an undergraduate at Occidental College, goes home to her two children when classes are over for the day.
“During the normal spring and fall schedule, I am dropping my son off at day care and going straight to campus,” she says. “I have one or two classes every day, and I’m studying most of the day along with managing the kids’ various appointments.”
Marquette Business’ master’s degree offerings are designed for students like Dickinson, who have family obligations, full-time jobs or both to contend with alongside their studies. The accounting programs include daytime and online classes; all other Graduate School of Management programs offer evening and online or fully asynchronous online courses.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I get from an advising perspective around flexibility and the structure and calendar of my coursework,” Dickinson says. “Marquette has a great reputation, so I was expecting it to be a great experience and it is.”
“Within the Graduate School of Management, one of our biggest priorities is to make master’s degree and certificate programs as accessible as possible,” says Karen Rinehart, assistant dean of graduate programs. “Most graduate business students are combining studies with other responsibilities and opportunities, such as their careers and families. By offering a variety of class formats, including online, campus and blended courses, students can pursue a world-class education that fits alongside work and personal schedules.”
U.S. News and World Report ranks several of these flexible programs highly. Marquette’s part-time MBA is ranked 53rd in the nation, up 10 spots from the previous year. The Executive MBA program is ranked in the top 30 nationally and is the only ranked program in Wisconsin. The strength of the MBA elective options is recognized in the U.S. News specialty rankings: accounting, business analytics, supply chain management and finance all rank among the national top 50. The master’s in supply chain management program ranks as the 17th best in the country, according to Gartner’s most recent rankings in 2022.
Living near Marquette could not have worked better for Dickinson, who held different managerial positions until moving to Milwaukee in 2012 for the same type of career opportunity at Milwaukee Lawn Sprinkler Corp. As she gained more experience, Dickinson took on more responsibility, eventually shifting into a human resources role administering payroll and accounts receivable, among other facets of the business.
Dickinson quickly realized two things: she was happy working with numbers, and she would need a master’s degree to advance further.
“One of the big reasons I picked Marquette is because it was important to learn analytics, and some of the other colleges I was considering only had a single analytics course,” Dickinson says. “Marquette offers a full degree in it.”
Dickinson is a full-time student by credit hours, having quit her job to pursue the degree. However, Dickinson’s accounting analytics classes are partially online and asynchronous, allowing her to tend to her son, Jack, and her daughter, Isabel. Dickinson treats the degree like a flexibly scheduled full-time job during the week, working from approximately nine in the morning to five at night, which leaves weekends and evenings open for family time.
“I’m pretty intensive with it,” Dickinson says. “But on the weekends, I barely touch it. This degree is very friendly to child-care needs; I take care of my kids when I’m not in classes or on campus. Most of the work gets done when they’re in day care.”
“Graduate School of Management course schedules align with busy life schedules,” Rinehart says. “Evening classes with campus or online meeting times are held once per week from Monday to Thursday. Asynchronous courses tend to have weekly deliverables, enabling students to balance learning and assignment deadlines with other commitments.”
Accounting analytics takes only a year-and-a-half to complete on a full-time basis. Dickinson, who earned high marks in her first few months of classes, hopes to graduate in 2024 and get her certified public accountant license. She wants to find a company that will allow her to work a flexible schedule, like the one she currently has at Marquette.
For the time being, Dickinson and the Graduate School of Management’s hundreds of other students will continue toward their Marquette degrees, working at their own pace to graduate and grow professionally.
“This is a program for people who are independent and who want the flexibility to do what they need to do,” Dickinson says.