21:44 PM

Business professionals find path to career advancement in accelerated degrees at UHCL

Written by: Lauren Sawyer
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University of Houston Clear Lake's College of Business offers multiple accelerated programs that allow students to complete coursework in a shorter period. The Master of Science in Finance program is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and can be taken in a fully online format. This degree allows students to specialize in financial management, sharpen their skills in business analytics, and take fewer classes with shorter hours than a traditional graduate degree.

A traditional M.S. Finance program can be 45 hours or more. Some programs also require 9 to 12 hours of foundation classes. UH-Clear Lake’s M.S. Finance program is accelerated because of the foundation class requirements being eliminated, and the condensed classes to 30 hours, with all the same information.

Associate Professor of Finance Tim Michael said the degree is specialized to technical tools.

“It’s designed for people who already have a business degree or business experience. They come in and learn more about being an analyst. Our accelerated program has attracted a lot of people from outside of business fields,” Michael said. “In some of those cases, that’s an engineer who has a family, a full-time job, and just wants to get a degree to sharpen their business skills.”

He said that in other cases, they also ended up with students from outside of business who have been able to change their career path through the program.

“We teach people to be financial analysts,” he said. “The four assessment areas of the program are business ethics, oral communication, critical thinking, and a common body of knowledge in finance.”

The emphasis of the accelerated M.S. in Finance program is on giving students the same experience that they would have in a longer, more traditional program.

“The idea is that people can get in, specialize in what they want to learn very carefully, and then get out and that’s the advantage,” Michael said. “Plus, it’s all online so it can be really convenient. The program has been very successful for students. Students are engaged in their fields and their classes often help them immediately in their jobs.”

He added that AACSB is the world’s premier business accreditation organization. “We are accredited both in business and accounting. It’s really unusual to see that in a smaller university,” Michael said.

The faculty also strives to make the experience for students pursuing this degree a beneficial one.

“The professors in finance are really trying to get our students the best outcomes after graduation. Not only do we all have experience of some kind, but we regularly talk to former students and employers, and we have a good idea of what our students need in the world to be successful,” Michael said.

Michael’s former student, Brenda Garcia, received her Master of Science in Finance in 2022, and said that the program taught her so much on a personal, professional and national level.

“I’ve learned to take care of my finances in a way that I had not before. I am able to be part of conversations with broader understanding from different aspects. I am also able to comprehend issues our country faces daily with more insight,” she said.

Garcia completed her Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Houston in 2017. She enrolled in UHCL’s master’s program to further her education, and said it worked for her in many aspects.

“The enrollment process was tremendously easy. The people I dealt with were extremely resourceful and caring. I knew I was meant to be a part of this program when I spoke to registration, advisors and others,” she said. “I am a full-time employee, wife and a mother. This program allowed me to have the flexibility to study in my own time, and take exams when they were convenient for me,” she explained.

She said that sometimes, she even took advantage of the opportunity to take exams at 4 a.m., which for her, worked wonders.

“My life is already busy enough,” she said.

Garcia said she had great professors that were flexible, and able to work with her schedule and personal life. She said Dr. Michael influenced her the most on her journey.

“Dr. Michael was the professor that influenced me the most. I can say that without thinking twice. He has a passion for what he does. His lessons are a part of my daily thoughts, and I became more open-minded,” she said. “He taught me so much about finance and provided excellent reading materials that I still reread today to understand our current markets.”

Her experience in the accelerated program left Garcia feeling confident and prepared for whatever comes next.

“The program gave me confidence to keep pursuing education.,” she said. “I am currently an analyst for a major oil and gas corporation and have the confidence and knowledge to keep learning every day.”

UHCL’s College of Business also offers Master of Business Administration, Master of Healthcare Administration, and joint MHA/MBA accelerated programs. For more information, visit www.uhcl.edu/business/