MBA Update: FEMBA at Irvine vs. MBA at the Fullerton Campus

Which MBA program is better for you? See how the Fullerton MBA program compares to the FEMBA at Irvine program.

See how the Fullerton MBA program compares to the FEMBA at Irvine program.

I’ve known since February that I wanted to apply to California State University, Fullerton for my MBA degree, but what I didn’t know then was that CSUF has two MBA programs.

[Update: I should mention that the main reason I chose CSUF is because its MBA program has all the same accreditations as other Southern California schools’ MBA programs for a fraction of the price. For example, University of California, Irvine’s MBA program costs around $80,000. The most expensive choice (as you’ll read about more below) at CSUF would be around $25,000 maximum. If you’re lucky enough to have an employer that offers tuition reimbursement as I am, then you can get a quality MBA degree for an unbeatable price.]

At first, I only knew about the fully-employed MBA (FEMBA) at Irvine program. However, after attending an information session about the FEMBA at Irvine program, I learned that the main (Fullerton) campus has an MBA program as well that is presented in a different format.

Here are the differences between the two options that I have learned. (Note that I am approaching this as a non-business major undergraduate):

FEBMA at Irvine Program:

  • You must take your pre-admissions classes before you enroll.

The pre-admissions classes are:

  • Calculus (Math 130 or 135)
  • Software Applications (ISDS 265)
  • Statistics (ISDS 361A)

(However, as I learned from the Dr. Van Muse, the director of admissions at CSUF, the school does allow students a grace period to finish the courses within the first year, but the calculus class needs to be finished in the first semester because it is a prerequisite for the statistics classes.)

Fullerton MBA:

  • You still have to take the pre-admissions classes, but they don’t have to be finished before you enroll. In other words, you have a more lenient grace period. One of the reasons you don’t have to have the classes completed before you enroll is because classes are not taught in the cohort format, so you wouldn’t be holding other students back if you hadn’t completed a pre-admission class yet. (However, you would be putting yourself at a disadvantage, so either way, it’s a good idea to get all the pre-admissions classes completed as soon as possible.)

FEMBA at Irvine Program:

  • You do not choose a specialization. The FEMBA program is taught in a cohort manner, meaning that you take all your classes with a group of other people who are working full-time. So, everyone’s classes are the same, and at the end of the program, everyone has completed a solid foundation in business degree based upon classes that previous students said were the best/most useful ones.

Fullerton MBA:

  • You can choose a specialization. Again, because the program isn’t taught in a cohort format, you’re able to pick an area of concentration. Some of the specializations include finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, taxation, and real estate.

FEMBA at Irvine Program:

  • You are never closed out of classes. For the FEMBA, only a certain number of applicants are accepted, and they will go through the entire program together. Also, the class schedule is different from Fullerton’s. Each quarter at Irvine is 16 weeks, but during the first eight weeks, students take just one class twice a week. Then the next eight weeks, they take another class twice a week. Also classes are only from about 7 to 10 p.m.

Fullerton MBA:

  • You have more flexibility to choose classes, but you can also get closed out of them if you register too late. The format for classes is that students take two different classes for each 16-week quarter. So, you’re still getting the same classes as with the FEMBA, it’s just in a different schedule. Also, some classes are held during a 4 to 7 p.m. slot and/or a 7 to 10 p.m. slot.

FEMBA at Irvine Program:

  • It’s more slightly more expensive. The FEMBA at Irvine is considered an off-campus program, so it is not state-funded. That means it has a higher tuition. As of now, the total cost for the FEMBA is around $22,500.

Fullerton MBA:

  • As of now, the Fullerton MBA is about $20,835. It’s not much cheaper than the FEMBA, but every little bit helps.

However, tuition costs are likely to increase for both programs by next year because of California’s gargantuan budget deficit.

Once I learned all this information, I decided that the Fullerton MBA program was best for me because:

  • I want to specialize my MBA.
  • I like that it’s slightly cheaper.
  • I like that I have a longer grace period to complete my pre-admissions classes.
  • Even though it’s not as close as Irvine, Fullerton is still less than an hour away from me in San Clemente, so I can’t complain.

So, now, it’s back to my MBA checklist:

  • Finish my GMAT prep course and take the GMAT. I’m scheduled to take it Saturday, September 12. (More on this later; I highly recommend taking a GMAT prep course.)
  • **NOTE: You CAN submit your full application packet without having taken the GMAT yet. You just have to have the GMAT scheduled and you can enter the date you’re going to take it. However, factor in that it will take two to three weeks for the test scores to be sent to CSUF, and the scores still have to be in before the application deadline of October 31, 2009.**

  • Submit my pre-application form and a $55 application fee.
  • Get two sets of official transcripts from all my undergraduate schools. (This is completed!)
  • Submit a background information sheet and statement of purpose.
  • Provide three letters of recommendation. (This is completed!)

(For more of the MBA admission requirements, see My MBA Checklist post.)

My goal is to have my full application packet submitted no later than August 28.

Did you find this post informative? If so, please share it with others. Thanks!

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9 Responses to MBA Update: FEMBA at Irvine vs. MBA at the Fullerton Campus

  1. Timory Wilson says:

    Look at you! Full speed ahead! Nice work.

  2. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Thank you, Timory! I’m trying, anyway. And hopefully this will help some other people who are thinking about getting an MBA in SoCal. I should add somewhere in the post that the main reason I chose CSUF is because it’s a fraction of the cost compared to other schools’ programs. UC Irvine costs around $80,000!

  3. Crys says:

    Whew! Good Luck making your path! I’m proud of you! If you have any questions about Fullerton hit up my sister. That’s where she goes.

  4. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Oh that’s right! I forgot she went there. Thanks, I will definitely hit her up for more info if/when I get accepted.

  5. VM says:

    Great observation. My planning is ditto like yours. I was also debating between FEMBA at UCI and FEMBA at Fullerton. Pricing makes a big difference, especially in this period. I thought FEMBA was the only option hence opted for Fullerton and was admitted. Most of the students in my class either live or work in/near Irvine. This would be a plus. I am not particularly fond of the off-campus building, but its expected to move near Irvine Spectrum next year.

  6. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Congratulations on your admission to the FEMBA at Irvine program! When did you apply and when did you find out you were admitted?

  7. VM says:

    Being a procrastinator I applied in the final weeks of the application due date. If I remember correctly I applied last week of October 2008. Currently part of cohort 12. One weak point throughout the process was administrative staff. Very (extremely) slow in responding back to my queries. I found out about a week before start of school regarding acceptance. I first received an email for registering my MBA classes then few days later a Congratulations letter. Weird! I know.

    Few hints: If you are married, forget you have a husband. If you have kids, forget about them. This program is very rigorous and will require your complete attention. Good luck with your endeavour.

  8. sun says:

    googled “csuf femba program cost” and your site came up.

    i’m a bit confused about femba irvine and fullerton mba (my information session is coming up). are you saying that fullerton mba has a “femba” as well?

    it’s a bit bothersome to me that femba irvine you can’t have a concentration but i’m going for management or general anyway so it probably wouldn’t matter.

    another thing im getting is that femba irvine classes will always be at irvine so you do miss the whole experience a bit?

    so i hope fullerton mba does have a “part-time” or “femba” program on campus.

    -sun

  9. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Hi Sun,
    Yes, it is a bit confusing between the two, which is why I wrote the post. The MBA at Fullerton is not a FEMBA in the sense that it is not in a cohort format and it is not designed specifically for working professionals in mind. However, it is an MBA program. I am in my first semester of the MBA program at the Fullerton campus and am finding it fits with my work schedule just fine. However, some classes are from 4 to 7 p.m., so you would have to have a job that is OK with you leaving early once or twice a week.

    If you’re interested in a general MBA then the FEMBA at Irvine program may work better for you.

    Yes, the FEMBA at Irvine will always be at the Irvine campus location. As far as I know, no classes will be on the main campus at Fullerton. That can be a good or bad experience depending on what you are looking for. With the FEMBA at Irvine, you’re with the same group through the entire program, which can be nice because you’ll get to know them really well. With the Fullerton MBA program, I have a lot of different concentrations in my two classes, so I the people in my classes will be a bit different each time. However, some people I know I’ll see regularly.

    I hope I answered everything. Please let me know if you have more questions. I’m happy to help. Thanks again, Sun.

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