Foundational Pillars: The SMU Cox Difference

Learn how SMU's Online MBA program and Foundational Pillars have the right idea when it comes to career preparation.

A small group of female business professionals sit at a table

This blog post was originally published in June 2019, and was revised in May 2023.

For working professionals, the decision to pursue an MBA requires a commitment. Traditional on-campus MBA programs may not be a good fit if candidates are required to take two years off from the workplace. But with a rise in digital technology has come increasing possibilities for global connection and remote learning, and a new MBA option has emerged. With the Online MBA from SMU Cox, you will have the opportunity to join one of the nation’s top MBA programs without sacrificing your location or your job.

At SMU Cox, we believe it is the role of successful business leaders to manage present demands while anticipating future possibilities. This understanding informs our curriculum, and it informs the ways in which our ambitious, dynamic, and passionate students engage with course content. That’s why we’re so excited to introduce the new Online MBA program, offering everything from leadership training, to analytics skill development, to superior networking opportunities through experiential learning. Technology is changing the way business is done; as cutting-edge thinkers, our faculty believes technology can and should change business education, too.

With an eye on market needs and in close concert with our corporate partners, we have designed an Online MBA that makes our top-rated business school, dynamic learning environment, renowned faculty, and world-class alumni network accessible — no matter where you’re coming from.

The SMU Cox Difference

You may have heard it said that we’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution — one which synthesizes the digital, physical, and biological worlds. From finance, to tech, to professional services, rapid progress accompanies rapid change. To be successful in today’s marketplace, you need a core set of hard and soft skills that are both expandable and scalable. With that in mind, we have developed an innovative curriculum centered around three Foundational Pillars:

  • Leadership
  • Analytics
  • Experiential Learning

To prepare for the future, you need an educational framework that supports growth. Our Foundational Pillars are driven by the marketplace and support a forward-thinking approach to learning.

Foundational Pillar: Leadership

We often talk about the Dallas advantage at SMU. A big part of the Dallas advantage — and something we’re excited to bring to you wherever you’re located — is our deep relationship with Dallas’s wide network of industry leaders. These corporate partners, with whom we have long-standing relationships, say that they need employees who are motivated and ready to lead. Business isn’t done in silos today. We work together, in teams and cross-functionally. Communication is key. Through intellectual curiosity, openness to diversity, and the confidence to speak up, leaders get results from their teams. As a leader, you will navigate your company’s development, motivate diverse stakeholders, and guide teams towards a common goal.

Foundational Pillar: Analytics

We also know that today’s business professionals must be well-versed in analytics and keenly aware of the potential of data. We live in a technological world; in order to meet marketplace demands, we must understand the functionality of digital footprints. Today, communication extends beyond spoken words and into the language of analytics. As more and more data becomes available, true leaders know how to use this information to tell a story. Understanding data will allow you to connect the dots and drive greater influence throughout your organization.

Foundational Pillar: Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning is the overarching pillar in the SMU Cox Online MBA program. Your roots in Experiential Learning will condition you, throughout your career, to appreciate the different and the new. As a leader, embracing diversity and making your ideas heard require that you adroitly navigate rapidly changing landscapes. Experiential Learning is active learning; students do not simply retain information, but integrate intellectual curiosity and practice into everything they do. Through execution and connectivity, our focus on analytics fosters new understandings about the importance of data. Experiential Learning develops adaptive thinkers and readies students to embrace change and transform challenges into value.

A Top MBA Program – Now Online

Our renowned SMU Cox MBA faculty designed these three Foundational Pillars to address and anticipate market needs. Online classes are all taught by these faculty members, and online students receive the same one-on-one support as those in our top-ranked on-ground MBA program. With a cohort size of 15 students, we place paramount importance on the personal connections you’ll develop with your professors and classmates during your MBA. While the Online program allows you to experience Cox from a remote setting, your education will be personally guided by SMU MBA faculty members who have a major stake in your success.

The Online MBA Curriculum

Our three Foundational Pillars — Leadership, Analytics, and Experiential Learning — are grounded in real-world needs and applied practically throughout the Online MBA curriculum. These concepts direct our approach to teaching and learning and will serve as the forward-thinking base for your future career development.

Success in leadership relies on understanding team dynamics. Online MBA courses at SMU Cox are interactive, allowing students to experience and practice teamwork in business. Synchronous sessions, in which our online MBA candidates come together with classmates and professors live online, are held three times per week. This frequent contact nurtures camaraderie, fosters communication, and develops team-building skills.

Each of our courses also offers a unique focus on analytics. For example, as coursework engages with the subject of marketing, it is evaluated beyond a simple understanding of sales. Our dynamic analytical framework asks students to examine complex metrics in implementing marketing strategies, maximizing the long-term strategic value that a marketing team can add to a business.

Most MBA programs offer a capstone project to inject real-world experience into what can be a largely theoretical education. Acknowledging the definite value of such projects, you will have the opportunity to pursue a capstone project in the Online MBA as well. But we also believe that experiential learning should not be contained in a single project. We know that your career leading up to this point has been informed by diverse experiences; building on this reality, we’re committed to introducing opportunities for real-world challenges into each and every classroom.

Experiential Learning, executed in conjunction with leadership training and development of analytics skills, gives Online MBA students the confidence to act. And our connection to corporate partners — the Dallas advantage — allows us to develop meaningful, real-world experiences as a cornerstone of our curriculum.

Why the SMU Cox Difference Matters

Business executives - and the nation's top business schools consequently - must understand that innovation and technology are advancing side-by-side, and influencing the expectations of the public in the process. Our Foundational Pillars — Leadership, Analytics, and Experiential Learning — will prepare students to meet evolving market needs, today and in the future.

The new Online MBA from SMU Cox is already changing the face of business training in the United States and abroad. We invite you to learn more about the program, explore our Foundational Pillars, and determine whether the Online MBA is a step in the right direction for your career in business.