Get Your M.B.A. Part-Time Part 9

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Before taking out any loans, consider whether your employers have legally obligated themselves to pay for your degree. Do you have a contract? Some firms require you to sign a contract when you start your program, stating that you will remain employed with them for a certain time period after completing your degree. Read your contract carefully: Has your company committed themselves to paying for your completed degree? Consider this point when you sign the agreement at the beginning of your program.

Employment Considerations If you decide to continue your program on a part-time basis while you are out of work, you will find yourself with huge blocks of free time to job search. So where do you start?

First, if you've been laid off, check with your company to see whether they have arranged to a.s.sist you with placement services such as resume workshops or recruiter connections. Tap in to your available connections and make sure to request references letters from them early (i.e., before your last day).

Make an appointment to visit your school's career counselor. As we mentioned earlier, this is a step that should be taken at the beginning of your program. Imagine how helpful it would be-especially if you're out of work-to have an open line of communication with a career counselor who knows you and your aspirations.

Finally, do your research. Although this book was not intended as a guide to searching for employment, there are many such resources available. Investigate at your library and on the Internet to find the company that is right for you.

Taking Time Off Perhaps you can not or wish not to finance the remainder of your degree yourself. In this case, you will need to take some time off. The first step is to notify your school. Some inst.i.tutions may limit the amount of time students can take off without having to reapply to the program. The most efficient manner of informing your school is to send a formal letter indicating that you are not "dropping out" but rather "stopping out"-that you do intend to resume courses in the near future. If this step is not taken and your school alters its curriculum, you may be required to take a cla.s.s that you have already completed.

You should remain in contact with your school periodically and keep them apprised of your situation. Each school has its own policy regarding career counseling, and although you may no longer be an active registered student, you may be eligible to partic.i.p.ate in the career placement services offered at your school.

Weighing the AlternativeIn comparing the full- and part-time programs at your school, make sure you know the following:1. Do part-time students need to apply to the full-time program? If so, is there one admissions committee and one set of admissions standards for both programs?2. Do the same faculty members teach both full and part time?3. Is the curriculum the same? If not, is it still appropriate to your goals?

Switching to Full-Time Status Depending on the number of credits required to complete your degree, the most efficient stance to take in this situation is to finish your M.B.A. on a full-time basis.

Can it be done?

The very first question you should consider is whether you can transfer to the full-time program at your school. Again, this is something that needs to be checked out with your school. Some programs distinguish between full-time and part-time programs while others do not. You may find yourself in a position where you will be required to reapply to your school.

Cost/reward evaluation If you have the financial ability to finish off your degree in a short period of time (say, one term or semester) it may be in your best interest to concentrate your efforts on finishing your studies. Searching for a new job is stressful enough without the extra burden of school considerations. In addition, you don't want to jeopardize a potential new employment by requesting tuition reimburs.e.m.e.nt from day one. Keep in mind the added bonus: When you do start your job hunt, you will be able to add "M.B.A." to your resume!


To recapitulate, here are the most important lessons learned and the steps you can take to ensure that there are no snags along the path to your successful completion of the M.B.A. program: 1. Keep an open mind and take the time to network while in school. You never know when connections or insights into other firms may prove useful.2. When selecting a school and program, ensure that there is the flexibility of transferring between programs without reapplying to the school.3. Visit your career counselor at the beginning of your M.B.A. program-and keep in contact. Make this an introductory meeting; don't start your part-time M.B.A. program by applying for jobs. This is premature. Additionally, some schools may consider this a conflict of interest, since your employers are paying for your degree.4. Before signing a contract for tuition reimburs.e.m.e.nt with your employer, make sure your interests are covered.5. If your employment situation changes, be sure to notify your school in writing.

But let's be optimistic, and a.s.sume you obtained your part-time M.B.A. as planned, with no major snags. Congratulations! You have achieved a terrific goal. So how will those three letters after your name affect your chances of moving up or moving on? The fact that you pursued the degree on a part-time basis speaks very highly of your motivation, stamina, intelligence, organization, and much more-and employers recognize this.


What employers admire in part-time students is their obvious loyalty and stick-to-it-ness. The full-time student usually uses the M.B.A. as a stepping-stone or a career changer; the part-timer uses the degree as a career booster. Many employers especially appreciate the "experienced hire" that has become synonymous with the more seasoned part-time M.B.A. candidate.

If or when you look for a job, remember to market the skills that are highly valued in the part-time M.B.A. profile. These skills include: experience, flexibility, dedication, ability to work in teams, practical and theoretical knowledge, exposure to other companies and company practices, motivation, ability to work under pressure, and a genuine interest in learning and applying new concepts. Here's a brief sampling of industry opinion: "When interviewing a prospective candidate who has either completed or is currently attending an M.B.A. program part time, I am impressed not so much by the knowledge acquired through the M.B.A. process, but by the personal sacrifice and commitment necessary to work full time and attend school at night. I believe this work ethic and career development transcends itself to the workplace, and more often than not result in an employee who is extremely driven, focused, and goal-oriented."

- Director, Deutsche Bank Director, Deutsche BankHigh Market Value"Managers cannot afford to be operating on outdated information or faulty models of the business environment. Information and strategic decision-making skills are of utmost value. A superior M.B.A. program provides both. I believe a part-time degree is more marketable than a full-time M.B.A., all other factors being equal. In today's market, if you are out of the loop for a year, you are far gone."- Pamela Curry, a.s.sistant Director of Graduate Programs, Dolan School of Business, Fairfield University "As an employer, I appreciate candidates who have earned the part-time M.B.A. because they tend to be effective employees sooner. There is no need for them to get acclimated to the business world; they already have a keener sense of how the principles can be applied. The advantage of being in a business context is enormous.

"As an educator, I notice that students with current business experience perform very skillfully in our Simulation Program. In fact, they tend to perform better than those full-time students in the honors cla.s.s."

- President and Chief Executive Officer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Parna.s.sus a.s.sociates, International; Parna.s.sus a.s.sociates, International;Adjunct Professor at Baruch College Remember to market these qualities when you are on your job search, either to get your foot in the door or at the interview itself!

Before jumping to the task of looking for a new job, take the time to a.s.sess the attributes that you have enjoyed in your prior work experiences. Your list may include specific tasks as well as the kinds of environments you enjoy. Once you are confident about the type of employment you want to target, you will be on your way!


You have many useful tools that are readily available, such as your colleagues at school and your work, the Internet, and recruiters.

Schools We cannot stress the point enough: You must develop a relationship with a career counselor at your school. You'll be that much better off when the time comes to ask for their a.s.sistance in the job hunt. The valuable services a school's career placement center usually provides include: * On-campus recruiting* Group workshops or one-on-one a.s.sistance with resume writing, interview skills, and general job search skills* Internet sites with job boards (listing candidate resumes and linking to other career resources)* Resume books* Resume referral services* Employer and alumni database services* Job search workshops* Career fairsTake Advantage of Advisers"I fully utilized my school's career center from the start of my M.B.A. experience. Advisers helped me build my resume, research companies, even improve my interviewing skills."- M.B.A graduate Other Students/Alumni Because the M.B.A. experience can be so significant, many current students and alumni will feel an immediate bond with you and will be very open to talking with you, mentoring you, and a.s.sisting you with contacts. Conduct an informal poll among your cla.s.smates: Ask them about their companies, what the corporate culture is like, and if they are in a hiring mode. Many organizations post job openings in the office itself; see if you can get a copy. As you know, no matter how much research on a company you complete, getting an insider's scoop is always more insightful, especially if it is from someone you know and trust. Lastly, remember that school ties are very strong-don't forget to refer to your undergraduate and graduate school alumni directory.

Off CampusResearch your school's affiliates! Students at Loyola University in Chicago who are seeking employment outside Chicago are eligible for reciprocal career planning and placement a.s.sistance at any of the 27 other Jesuit Universities located across the United States.

Colleagues Perhaps the best referral you can obtain is from a current colleague or boss. The people who work with you are the most competent to recommend you to a new employer. Ask around; perhaps they can recommend some useful connections.

The Internet Job searching on the Internet has become commonplace. There are many useful sites, including job placement sites specifically designed for M.B.A.'s. Appendix A in the back of this book includes a listing of some of the most popular web addresses.

Referrals It's always key to maintain your relationships with friends, ex-colleagues, and acquaintances, as they represent a good source of information on potential job availability. Make lunch dates to sustain your contact. One caveat: In today's tight job market many companies offer their employees a referral fee for bringing in new staff. Do not rely solely on someone else's opinion, since there may be ulterior motives, as the referral fees can be substantial. Always do your own research on a firm; what may be utopia for one person can be h.e.l.l for another.

Recruiters Recruiting firms can also be a very useful for the prospective employee. Although it is imperative to research a company thoroughly, many recruiters will have additional insights into the workings of a firm. A recruiter's allegiance is twofold: to the corporation, who needs the position filled, and to the candidate searching for a new position. Their expertise lies in their ability to make the perfect match and satisfy all concerned.

We asked a top recruiter, Evan Lee, President at Accent International (www.accentjobs.com), a recruiting firm in New York that has serviced financial inst.i.tutions and Fortune 500 companies over the last 12 years, a few questions about the idiosyncrasies of job search.

When is a good time to start looking for a new job?

If you are about to complete an M.B.A., it would be prudent to give yourself three months to start looking for a new position. Obviously, it depends on the level and nature of the position you are looking for; a very specialized type of job, for instance, may take longer to fill. We work with a great many universities via job fairs and on-campus recruiting. These are wonderful tools for candidates looking for a new position, so be sure to use them.

Do most of the firms you service offer the tuition reimburs.e.m.e.nt benefit?

Most of our financial services firms do offer tuition reimburs.e.m.e.nt benefits. I would add that while many of these firms are aggressive about financing an M.B.A., it does depend on which position you are applying for. Does the company need you to receive the degree? How it will complement the skills that you are already bringing to the table? It really depends on the fit.

What would you suggest to the candidate who wants the tuition reimburs.e.m.e.nt benefit from Day One (i.e., for those who are enrolled in a program and find themselves out of work or wanting an immediate change)?

It is important to be flexible. Research the company and see if the fit is right. For example, if the perfect match is there, you may be in a position in which the prospective employer woos you, perhaps even offering a signing bonus (usually only offered to candidates who are currently employed). The bonus can carry you financially until you are eligible for the tuition reimburs.e.m.e.nt benefits. Remember that it is the fit that is crucial. If the prospective employer really wants you, they may be able to find ways to accommodate your requirements and circ.u.mvent their current policy. Most importantly, remember not to walk into an interview demanding tuition reimburs.e.m.e.nt benefits. No one reacts well to ultimatums, and it is premature to discuss these issues until you are convinced the position is right for you and you are in the negotiations stage.

Have you noticed any trends vis-a-vis the M.B.A. candidate? Are they more or less in demand than they used to be?

I believe the M.B.A. is much more in demand in terms of the work that I do. In fact, I would say that for many positions, the M.B.A. is now a prerequisite. Most financial a.n.a.lysts either have the degree or are in the process of pursuing it, and the companies I work with have indicated a strong preference for all a.n.a.lysts to have the degree-and these are mostly entry-level positions. Let's say you are a vice president position in charge of credit. It's important for you to possess the M.B.A. for the additional incentive of compet.i.tiveness. In your next job, the candidates who you'll go up against will certainly have the degree, so you need to stay compet.i.tive. I have worked with many people who have tremendous amounts of responsibility in their current position, but if they were out in the job market today they would need an M.B.A. to complete their experience and have the type of resume that employers want to see.

What skills do you and your clients appreciate in the part-time M.B.A. candidate?

Employers really appreciate the balance between the a.n.a.lytic skills and business development skills that the M.B.A. with work experience can bring to the table. Employers will always value the amount of work that went into obtaining the degree. They recognize the motivation and focus of the candidate. They may have many employees with managerial talent or top quant.i.tative skills, but they really appreciate the candidate that possesses both. Overall, I would say that the dedication required of an M.B.A. student is the attribute my clients seem to rate the highest. This never goes overlooked and is always respected.

Can you provide any advice to M.B.A. candidates who are contemplating a job change?

The best advice I could give is to do your research. I believe that the company you choose to work for is oftentimes even more important than the actual position you are filling. Look what the company can offer you down the line. Most importantly, make sure that the chemistry is right.


Although you can only get one M.B.A., many schools are offering add-ons! For instance, Syracuse University offers an M.B.A. Upgrade, an executive education program designed for experienced managers and executives who have earned an M.B.A. five or more years ago. So if you have already earned your M.B.A. but fear you may be getting a little stale, check with your school about auditing cla.s.ses or updating your degree.


The Online Experience


What You Can Expect.

The concept of getting an education outside a traditional school setting is hardly new. The evolution of communication across long distances allowed innovative educators to teach without a physical cla.s.sroom. One of the first methods for reaching students was, of course, through the mail. Once it became a sophisticated and dependable service in the 19th century, correspondence courses began to appear all over the world. Later, radio and television also served to educate eager learners across long distances. As expected, the computer and the Internet have changed the face of education in countless ways.

As you have seen throughout this book, many of the issues that are critical to your M.B.A. education are the same for both traditional "brick-and-mortar" or onground options and virtual options like online programs-from selecting the right school and program to fit your goals and schedule, to applying to your school of choice and financing your education. Therefore, this chapter will briefly touch on these issues, but will concentrate on issues specific to online degree programs, such as perceptions of online learning, as well as how the online study experience differs from what you are familiar with in a traditional onground education.


Whether you're moving into a new career, or moving upward in your current path, there are many valuable reasons for pursuing a graduate degree. But for many people, getting an M.B.A. was a goal that remained out of reach-and not because they lacked the drive or dedication. It was because they could not fit a traditional, full-time program in an onground school into their lives. The issues that might have previously kept hard-working adults from reaching their educational goals are no longer impediments to getting an M.B.A. because of the growth and development of online programs.

In this new and exciting frontier, a large part of the population is made up of members of society who previously could not find a place in traditional higher-level education settings. For the high percentage of women enrolled in online degree programs, the flexibility that these programs offer give them their first opportunity to advance their education while continuing to manage the household and often working full-time as well. Online programs also give opportunities to people with disabilities, since they no longer have to be concerned about accessibility or mobility issues involved in visiting a campus.

Perceptions of Online Degrees As with all things that are new and unfamiliar, there has been hesitation in embracing the true value of online degrees. Many employers have previously shown skepticism about the quality of the education that could be imparted outside of traditional settings and programs. Luckily, negative perceptions of online degrees are disappearing very quickly. Today, online degrees are being appreciated and respect more and more by companies and employers.

Accreditation As discussed in chapter 5 (Evaluating Business Schools), accreditation is an important part of selecting a school or program. Should you choose to get your M.B.A. online, it is advantageous to obtain a degree from an inst.i.tution that has been recognized by a regional or national accreditation organization. Even Ivy League schools, with their exceptional reputations, acquire and maintain accreditation. And while accreditation is not a requirement for online universities (or any school for that matter), it adds to the value and prestige of your degree.

In addition, the national and regional organizations that impart accreditation status use the same criteria for online and onground schools. They do not differentiate or discriminate between inst.i.tutions, and require all the schools to maintain the same standards or risk losing their status. It is also important to note that national accreditation may sound more impressive than a regional one, in reality, regional accreditation is more highly regarded. There are also a variety of accrediting bodies, and some more reputable than others! Again, refer to chapter 5 for details on accreditation organizations.

M.B.A. Programs In addition to the traditional master's in business administration, the majority of online universities that offer graduate business degrees have a comprehensive variety of programs available, including specializations in finance (or accounting), marketing, human resources management, information technology, and public administration, among others. The time frames for completing a degree program are much the same for online programs as for onground schools. Many programs typically take about two years to complete. It is also possible to take intensive, accelerated courses that allow you to get your M.B.A. in a year's time. But again, there are many factors at place in deciding on what program to enroll in. Consult chapters 5 and 6 for step-by-step guidance on choosing an M.B.A. program that suits your goals and needs.

Admissions and Financing The admissions process and financing options for online graduate school programs do not vary greatly from those of onground schools. Obviously, there is an application process with forms and fees. Additional admissions requirements will vary from school to school, but the general rules for most graduate programs apply, such as having an undergraduate degree, supplying an official undergraduate transcript, and having maintained a certain minimum grade point average. The main difference between online and onground schools, though, is that online M.B.A. programs do not require GMAT test scores.

In addition to the flexibility that online degrees offer, another exceedingly attractive characteristic of online degree programs is that they provide the same quality education as traditional onground schools, but often at a fraction of the cost. In the past, there were restrictions on financing online degrees, but today, many of the same financing options that apply to onground schools pertain to those online schools. Also, students interested in financial aid will find that federal grants, as well as federal, state, and private lending programs, including military financial aid, are available to them. And many employers will also reimburse, in full or in part, employees who go into online M.B.A. programs. Of course, you should check with your human resources department to confirm your company's policies and options.


Many students are attracted to online education because it provides unprecedented freedom in terms of when and where they "attend" cla.s.s. While there are time parameters around most online M.B.A. courses, there are tremendous convenience, flexibility, efficiency, and time-saving benefits to online study. Being able to schedule course work and activities to fit their personal and professional lives is enormously appealing to many full- and part-time graduate students. Travel time to and from campuses is frequently an obstacle students cannot meet, and online learning removes this issue. No babysitter needs to be hired, and the cla.s.sroom is always open.

Online Teaching Tools Online learning not only requires self-motivation and dedication, it also requires some familiarity and comfort with technological tools. Before enrolling, students will need to be accustomed to using email in order to correspond with faculty and fellow students. Fluency with the Web is also a must. For example, it is imperative that you know how to download and install common programs and plug-ins, and how to configure common browser options. Other crucial skills include being able to get into, create, amend, and save doc.u.ments in Microsoft Office formats, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as being able to configure and run other applications. For example, being able to install and run an antivirus application is a common requirement for online schools. With files being posted to message boards or sent to faculty and fellow students, security is an issue that online schools take very seriously.

In terms of equipment, having current hardware and software is always preferred. Some common hardware requirements include a computer that runs Windows 2000, XP, or Vista, or Mac OS X and has at least 256 MB RAM or greater; 3 GB of free hard-drive s.p.a.ce, a monitor with a video card of at least 16 bits; and a DVD-ROM or CD-ROM drive. You will also need access to the Internet, and the faster, the better (e.g., using a DSL or cable modem). For software, you'll need common applications like Microsoft Office (2000 or higher); antivirus software; the latest version of an Internet browser (like Explorer, Firefox, or Safari); Adobe Acrobat Reader; Adobe Flash Player; and an instant messaging program like AOL or MSN.

The Cla.s.sroom Experience With so many different communication tools and techniques at our disposal in the 21st century, online programs can vary in format, and they continue to adapt and improve with the latest technology. One format issue to investigate is whether the online school you've chosen uses a synchronous or asynchronous format. A synchronous format means that students and professors meet on a predetermined schedule and interact in real-time; chat rooms and videoconferencing are often used. Conversely, with asynchronous programs, students and professors are not required to convene at specified times. Common tools used for this format are email programs (like Microsoft Outlook), message/discussion boards, and streaming video.

Some programs also include (or require) the use of telephone, on-campus attendance, or even good old-fashioned mail correspondence. You will want to investigate the full details of what tools and technology are being used by the university, to ensure that you understand what's required and that it is practical for your schedule and goals.

Cla.s.sroom Discussion and Lectures Despite the technology-heavy nature of online programs, the innovative, dynamic environment of online learning is not an isolated or lonely experience. A great deal of personal attention and academic support is at your disposal. Many schools have features that provide instant feedback, such as quizzes to test your knowledge and discussion boards, so you can initiate discussion and get advice from professors and fellow students. Instant messaging allows real-time discussions with them as well. And in some programs, interactive seminars take place, which provide an enriching exchange between students and faculty.

Because students read the postings from others and have the opportunity to reflect and carefully construct their responses, online course discussions are often rich and thought provoking. Furthermore, the discussion takes place in a written format that provides an archived record of the exchange. Online students do not have to hastily jot down notes during a lecture or transcribe a recording!

Online students also get the benefit of taking cla.s.ses with students who reside across the country as well as outside of the United States. This provides them with a broad student perspective, which enhances the online learning experience. This broad student perspective also extends to the peer-to-peer learning model that marks online learning. Because students come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, they bring a complex set of values and observations to the cla.s.sroom. This is a valuable source of engagement for students in distance learning.

Regardless of the format, online study experience is largely student directed, as opposed to professor directed, and a large number of cla.s.s a.s.signments and projects are done in teams. Students who are successful and satisfied with online programs are self-motivated and comfortable initiating the learning process through discussion and partic.i.p.ation.

Faculty and Guest Lecturers With online M.B.A. programs, the faculty members are not limited to a small geographic area. These universities have the benefit of being able to recruit faculty not only across the country, but international faculty as well.

Also, the technology used in the "cla.s.sroom" allows for more distinguished guest speakers to partic.i.p.ate in online M.B.A. programs. Guest speakers are often supervisors, managers, business owners, and other professionals, including successful corporate executives and leaders in the industry. With the online study format, they have the flexibility to offer their expertise and insight in a manner that is suitable to their schedule. This may include live online chats and question-and-answer sessions via the Internet. Some courses also have guest lecturers who partic.i.p.ate weekly and share their input.

Libraries and Other Resources Most online universities pride themselves on offering the most informative, up-to-date textbooks to their students, as well as a full array of library services, with both electronic and physical resources. Exhaustive online library catalogs are common to most schools. In some cases, articles and excerpts can be ordered online, and then scanned and delivered electronically, while at other schools, you can order a book online and have it delivered to your door.

In addition, online schools are active in the educational and professional futures of their students. Candidates often have access to comprehensive career services resources, as well as career advisors. Additionally, degree candidates work with academic advisors and faculty mentors to explore and discuss professional opportunities.


For Your Information


Frequently Asked Questions When it comes to an endeavor as significant as your education, there is no such thing as too much information, no question too foolish to ask. Indeed, in my discussions with students, administrators, educators, and employers, the same issues kept cropping up over and over again. The following is my attempt to answer some of the more frequently asked questions about the M.B.A., and, in the next section, to lead you to some resources I found very helpful in researching this book.

Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in business to pursue an M.B.A.?

The initial answer to this question is no. In fact, many schools appreciate candidates with a diverse background; it makes the cla.s.sroom more interesting. However, some schools or programs may require their students to have some previous coursework in fundamental business courses such as mathematics, statistics, economics, and financial accounting. If this is the case, and you have not yet fulfilled the requirements, do not give up. If the program is right for you, consider taking the prerequisites before applying. Just be sure that the credits can be transferred.

Why doesn't work experience count towards coursework?

According to admissions officers, work experience in itself does not necessarily represent a structured, thorough understanding of business principles and concepts. Business schools provide a product to their students as well as to the corporations that hire the M.B.A. degree. Keep in mind, though, that prior work experience is vital to cla.s.sroom discussion and eases the transition of theory to practice.

Are the standardized tests (GMAT/TOEFL) really necessary to gain admission?

If the program you are interested in identifies that a GMAT or TOEFL are necessary, that means they are. If you are applying to graduate school on a part-time basis and have been out of school for many years, you may be quite unaccustomed to taking standardized tests. You should realize that many other people are in the same situation. Take a preparatory course and practice for the exam-Kaplan, for one, offers cla.s.ses throughout the United States as well as retail books such as Kaplan GMAT GMAT and Kaplan and Kaplan GMAT 800. GMAT 800. Apply yourself and you'll do fine. Apply yourself and you'll do fine.

Once in a part-time program, can I transfer to a full-time program?

This is an important question that needs to be addressed when you decide which programs and schools to apply to. Some schools consider the full- and part-time programs as separate and distinct programs, whereas others treat both as one and the same. In the first instance, if you wish to expedite the completion of your degree, you must realize there is a separate admissions process for the day program.

As a part-time student, am I eligible for financial aid?

The answer will vary from school to school, so you should broach this topic with the admissions department. Although you may not be eligible for financial aid, U.S. students are ent.i.tled to student loans. As soon as possible, consult with the financial aid professional at the school of your choice and they will indicate which aid, loans, or scholarships you may be qualified to receive.

When do I find out about waived coursework and credit requirements to graduate?

Usually this is a process that is determined after admission, although some schools may notify you with your admission letter if you can be "placed out of" a cla.s.s as a result of previous credit in college. If you are required to take a placement exam, your school will notify you of its testing dates.

Do not be confused between "waived" courses and those courses which you can be "placed out of." For example, some schools will require a certain number of credits in order to graduate, and being "placed out of" a cla.s.s will not reduce the total number of credits required to graduate.

Is there a maximum number of cla.s.ses that can be waived?

This answer will vary from school to school. Most schools will allow you to waive only prerequisite courses such as calculus, marketing, business law, economics, statistics, or accounting. There is usually a maximum number of credits/courses that you can waive or be placed out of; it can range from two to five courses.

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