Online MBA Tuition Assistance Partnerships Increase Accessibility

Pat Birkeland

Nine years ago, while working for an IT company in Seattle, Pat Birkeland (‘03 Bus. Adm., ’11 Eng. & Tech. Mgmt., ’16 OMBA) saw an article in the Seattle Times about a tuition assistance partnership between WSU and The Boeing Company. While he was happy in his current position, the tuition assistance program described was too good to pass up. Later that year he had successfully applied for a position with The Boeing Company.

“I changed jobs because I believed in the tuition assistance program so much,” he says. “The program provided the foundation of my career.”

Recognizing that a lot of change occurring in information technology operations teams stemmed from the manufacturing world, he took advantage of the tuition assistance program to enroll in the Engineering and Technology Management program at WSU, but it wasn’t until completing the WSU online MBA program that he felt he could bridge the gap between technical work and business outcomes.

WSU online MBA quality, flexibility seal the deal

While the program’s distinguished top 20 online MBA ranking by U.S. News & World Report in 2014 initially impressed Birkeland, it was the program’s flexible framework that really sold him on applying, he says.

The ability to watch recorded lectures as opposed to being restricted to live sessions was a big plus for him, as well as the ability to focus on one subject at a time. Given his daily routine with family and commuting two to three hours, earning an MBA is something he couldn’t have done 10 years ago, he says.

Tuition assistance program a game changer

Taking full advantage of Boeing’s tuition assistance program at other schools, Birkeland also completed coursework from half a dozen regionally accredited institutions and is applying his training to his position as an enterprise business analytics platform services operations lead at Boeing.

While the successful completion of a degree in itself did not result in a promotion or opportunity for more challenging work, applying what he learned in these programs to his day-to-day work did result in both of these things, he says. “The program has really been a game changer for me.”

New tuition assistance partnerships make online MBA more accessible

Two new tuition assistance programs with Chick-fil-A, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. based in Pullman, are making the WSU Online MBA degree programs more affordable for the companies’ team members and their families.

As part of Chick-fil-A’s Remarkable Futures Initiative, the Carson College of Business will waive the standard $75 application fee and offer 10 percent in tuition assistance to the company’s team members who wish to pursue their online MBA or Executive MBA.

“We’re thrilled about the opportunity to partner with an organization as dedicated to higher education as Chick-fil-A,” said Cheryl Oliver, assistant dean for online and graduate programs. “Collaborations like this help to underscore WSU’s commitment to increasing the availability and reach of our world-class education, and we anticipate that this partnership will benefit many current and future students working toward an MBA or Executive MBA.”

In late 2016, WSU and the Carson College partnered with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. to offer Schweitzer employees and their spouses a 10 percent in tuition assistance and a waived application fee.

Applicants from both companies must meet the online MBA or Executive MBA program admissions requirements. Any employee or spouse currently enrolled in one of WSU’s online business programs can begin using the tuition assistance immediately.

“Collaborating with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and other organizations willing to support skill development is exciting. These partnerships reflect what it means to be a model for public business education—our mission is to make our degrees accessible to those willing and able to earn them,” said Chip Hunter, Carson College dean. “By extending eligibility to spouses of employees, we’ll provide business education to an even greater number of motivated students.”

Learn more about the online MBA and Executive MBA programs at Washington State University.