Student handbook

Handbook for graduate programs in business

Master of Business Administration and
Master of Arts in Organizational Management

 Table of contents
An introduction to Bluffton
Standards of campus conduct
Description of the programs
Financial information
Academic procedures
Graduation requirements
AGS Office

Both the Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Organizational Management provide solid grounding in a broad set of management-related concepts and practices. The core curriculum consists of 9 three-semester-hour courses, and 3 three-semester-hour concentration courses. Concentrations are available in leadership, accounting and financial management, and production and operations management. 

Description of the MBA: The Bluffton MBA program is designed to meet the needs of the manager in a number of organizational settings. Students should develop strong managerial skills in the program as well as a broad understanding of functional areas like finance, manufacturing operations, marketing as well as a theoretical background in economics that enables to interact with all aspects of their organizational systems. The curriculum contains nine require three-credit-hour courses, three one-semester-hour courses. The program is a group-based program with a curriculum that is designed to be completed during two school years. Groups meet once a week. Each three-credit course meets six times in four-hour time blocks.

Description of the MAOM: The Master of Arts in Organizational Management program focuses on issues of organizational management. The particular strengths of the MAOM program include an emphasis on understanding the nature of the managerial role, analyzing broad societal trends related to the world of business and developing an individual work related research project. Individuals in any managerial/supervisory position, as well as those in human resources and marketing, may be most interested in the MAOM degree. The program is a group-based program with a set curriculum that is designed to be completed during two school years. Groups meet once a week. Each three-credit course meets six times in four-hour time blocks. The chief differences between this program and the MBA program is that the MAOM students have the chance to do an individual research project on a topic of their own choosing and that the MAOM program does not include three of the quantitatively oriented second year required or elective course of the second year of the MBA program

Both programs:

  • rely on high levels of out-of-class study by students. Class time is interactive in nature with substantial discussion and numerous opportunities for experiential learning.
  • intend to create a highly motivating learning environment through the selection of materials closely related to the students experienced world and through stimulating class sessions. Student evaluations are based primarily on weekly and end of the course written assignments. Group projects and short quizzes may be used occasionally during the program.
  • require thirty-nine hours of graduate credit
  • meet the needs of working adults in for-profit, not-for-profit and public sector organizations.
  • utilize textbooks and instructional materials that are delivered to the students.

The honor system
Bluffton observes the honor system in taking examinations and writing research papers. No monitor is in the classroom during test or examination periods. Students are asked to write and sign the following pledge on every examination paper: I am unaware of any aid having been given or received during this examination. If a student cannot conscientiously sign this pledge, the course instructor is to be notified.

Plagiarism is considered a serious violation of the honor system. Plagiarism is presenting either the exact words or the ideas of someone else as though they are your own. It is never acceptable. A violation generally means failing the assignment, sometimes failing the course and may result in removal from the program. Reported offenses are resolved by the director of the program in consultation with the instructor and the student.

On-campus parking
Graduate students may park in the parking lot off Bentley Road, just south of the football stadium, and if arriving after 5 p.m., in the parking lots near Founders Hall.

Financial information

Bluffton is a non-profit institution. The tuition, fees and other expenses as well as income from gifts and endowments are necessary to cover the total costs of providing educational programs. The university reviews fees annually and reserves the right to make changes in fees and deposits.

Graduate programs in business tuition payment plans
There are several payment plans available for MBA and MAOM students. They are described below. Checks should be made payable to Bluffton University.

  • Full payment plan: Payment is made in full.
  • Differed Payment plan: This plan allows the student to defer payment of tuition and fees that are reimbursable by an employer or an approved third party. Payment can be deferred no longer than 60 days beyond the end of the semester in which they were registered. Those fees that are not reimbursable by the employer or approved third party must be paid using the semester or monthly payment plan.  To qualify, the student must provide a copy of the employer s reimbursement policy or third party reimbursement contract along with verification that the student is eligible. There is a $30 per semester participation fee.
  • Semester plan: The student s costs are divided into four installments. The first payment is due at orientation. The other three payments are due on or before the first session of the second, third and fourth semester.

Penalty for late payment
Interest on past due accounts is computed at 1% per month (12%APR). Transcripts and diplomas will not be furnished until the account is paid in full. A student with an unpaid account may not continue classes in a subsequent semester.

Refund policy
Students who withdraw during any period of enrollment at Bluffton and follow the approved withdrawal procedures (see Academic Procedure) will receive refunds for instructional fees according to the following schedule:

Up to and including the first day of classes in the semester.. .100% refund
From second day to 10 % period of time (class days) in the semester. 90% refund
After 10% and up to 20% period of time (class days) in the semester 80% refund
After 20% and up to 30% period of time (class days) in the semester 70% refund
After 30% and up to 40% period of time (class days) in the semester 60% refund
After 40% and up to 50% period of time (class days) in the semester 50% refund
After 50% and up to 60% period of time (class days) in the semester . 40% refund
After 60% period of time (class days) in the semester ...No refund

*Students may contact Rebecca Cox at (419) 358-3897 in the Office of Adult and Graduate Studies for information on these percentages in a specific semester.

Note: Tuition refunds are based on the portion of the full semester that has been completed rather than the portion of a given course that has been completed.

If a refund amount is owed to the student, but the student has outstanding institutional charges or if the student owes a repayment of a cash disbursement for non-institutional costs, the university will automatically apply the refund amount to those charges or repayment. The university will also notify the student in writing if either situation has occurred.

Students who are Title IV recipients will have their aid recalculated as prescribed by federal return of Title IV funds law and regulation. These schedules are available to all prospective and currently enrolled students by contacting the Business Office or the Office of Financial Aid. Financial aid will be adjusted according to federal guidelines for students who withdraw.

Financial aid
Students should familiarize themselves with the following items and make a list of those points that require action.

Guidelines and application procedures
Entering students seeking financial assistance are required to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) designating Bluffton as one of the recipients. This application form and instruction booklet is available from the adult and graduate education office or the financial aid office. The student s eligibility is determined by subtracting the expected family contribution or EFC (derived from the FAFSA) from the cost of attending Bluffton. In addition to tuition and fees, estimates are included in determining the student expense budget for books and supplies, living expenses, personal expenses, dependent care and transportation.

Students should be aware of application deadlines established by off-campus sources of aid including state and federal agencies. These deadlines are announced about one year before the beginning of the academic year. Students seeking to continue financial assistance must re-apply for any type of aid. The amount of financial assistance awarded each year will depend upon the student s continuing need for aid and the amount of funds available. All aid is disbursed to students through the business office, typically by crediting the student s account with a calculated amount of the aid at the beginning of each billing period.

The university monitors student progress toward a degree on a per-semester basis for academic and financial aid purposes. Students who meet the academic requirements for continuing their enrollment are eligible for financial aid. Students with questions concerning financial assistance, should contact the Office of Financial Aid at (419) 358-3266. The Office of Financial Aid is available to help estimate eligibility for financial assistance. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Noon and evening hours are available by appointment. So that financial eligibility may be determined in a timely manner, interested students should contact the Office of Financial Aid at (419) 358-3266 four to six weeks prior to the beginning of their first MBA/MAOM class.

Loan Programs
Federal student loans are guaranteed low-interest loans for students attending school at least half time. Bluffton graduate students are eligible for federal student unsubsidized loans, for which they must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at: Addition information can be found at  Non-federal loan alternatives exist for students who do not wish to file the FAFSA or who are unable to cover the cost of attendance with a traditional federal unsubsidized loan. 

Additional information is available through the Financial Aid Office.

Employer Assistance
Some employers provide educational assistance benefits to their employees. Students should check to see if their employer provides educational assistance and provide a copy of this plan to Rebecca Cox in the AGS office.

Academic procedures

All registration for students is done directly through the Office of Adult and Graduate Studies. Students in the MBA program will be asked to make course selections for any second year electives prior to the end of the first year. Registration for subsequent semesters is done automatically by the Office of Adult and Graduate Studies.

Schedule of classes
Starting dates for the MBA/MAOM groups are determined by the director of the Graduate Programs in Business. The schedule for the MBA/MAOM cohorts, listing all session dates and holiday breaks, is distributed prior to the first class session, but the specific order of classes may be changed near the beginning of each semester.

Grading System
Grade points

Students will be evaluated on a letter grade system that involves quality points. Students in good standing must maintain a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and GPA will be calculated in the following manner:

A   4.0 B   3.0 C   2.0
A-  3.7 B-  2.7 C-  1.7
B+  3.3 C+  2.3 E     .0


Academic probation
Any time that a student s end-of-the-semester cumulative GPA in the MBA/MAOM program falls below 3.0 the student is placed on academic probation. A student who is placed on probation must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 by the end of the next semester of coursework or he/she will be placed on academic suspension.

Academic suspension
A student is suspended when he/she fails to achieve a 3.0 grade point after 9 hours or one full semester of probation. A student may also be suspended for academic dishonesty. A student who has been suspended may retake courses for which he/she received less than a grade of B and may be considered for readmission and regular coursework once the repeat course work has raised the student s GPA to 3.0. Tuition for courses that are being retaken is charged at the current tuition rate. A student who has been suspended my apply for readmission after a semester of absence from the program.

Conditional admission
When an applicant fails to meet the regular admission requirements and there is cause for significant concern about the student’s success in the program the MBA/MAOM faculty committee (or the director/designee and a subgroup of two MBA/MAOM committee members during the summer) may choose to grant conditional admission to that applicant. A student who is conditionally admitted must achieve a 3.0 grade average during the first nine semester hours of coursework in order to be removed from that status. A conditionally admitted student who fails to achieve a GPA of 3.0 during tthe first nine semester hours of coursework will be placed on academic suspension. At this point the regular suspension procedures apply.

Special status
Special student status may be granted to an applicant to complete three one-hour short courses prior to regular admission to the MBA/MAOM program. Based on individual circumstances, special student status also may be granted to a non-degree seeking student who holds a bachelor s degree and wishes to take one regular three-hour course. Special status may also be granted for one semester to a student who needs three or less credit hours to complete an appropriate undergraduate degree. The student must have completed the undergraduate degree before beginning the second semester of graduate classes.

 The following are required for admission as a special student:

  1. Complete the special student application form
  2. Pay the $25 admission fee

Graduation requirements

Courses in the graduate programs will be listed for students on graduate transcripts that will be maintained separately from undergraduate transcripts. Evaluation of satisfactory progress toward graduation and of completion of graduation requirements will be done at the conclusion of each semester by the Registrar s Office in conjunction with the director of the Graduate Programs in Business.

Students must complete coursework within four years of their admission to the MBA or MAOM program. Graduation requirements include completion of 36 semester hours of coursework (with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0). Students must earn a grade of C or above in all courses. They may repeat courses to earn improved grades. Students must pay for courses each time they are taken. The recommendation for the degree is to be submitted to the Graduate Programs in Business Committee for approval and then submitted to the faculty for its approval. A list of recommended graduates is given to the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs for approval and to the President for conferring of the degree.

Students who plan to complete all graduation requirements by the end of the fall semester of the same calendar year may participate in spring commencement exercises. Students with a maximum of 12 credit hours remaining to complete at the end of the spring semester are eligible to participate in the spring commencement exercises. The remaining hours should be completed in the same calendar year and listed on the “Intent to Graduate” form, which should be submitted by Jan. 31 of the year in which the student intends to participate in commencement exercises.

Withdrawal process
Students who wish to withdraw from the program must notify the Office of Adult and Graduate Studies in writing. If written notification of withdrawal is not submitted, the student sacrifices his/her right to return and may obtain readmission only by petitioning the faculty and receiving consent without restarting the total admissions process.

Class attendance
Students are expected to attend all sessions of each course. If an absence is unavoidable, a student must discuss that absence with the professor. Additional assignments may be required of the absent student. In a similar manner students are expected to arrive for class on time. Any student who misses two class sessions in a single course will not be allowed to complete the course for credit.  Students missing two class sessions for personal health or required work travel will have their tuition applied to the course when it is retaken.

Evaluation of instruction
Student evaluation of instruction is coordinated through the Office of Adult and Graduate Studies. Students will be given opportunity to evaluate courses on forms distributed by the professor at the end of each course. The evaluation forms are distributed in class and class time is used for students to complete them. They are then returned to the Office of Adult and Graduate Studies. They will be tabulated by the Registrar’s Office and a report will be given to each instructor with an evaluation summary for each course as well as a summary for all courses taught by all faculty. No reports will be given to faculty until grades are turned in.

Office of Adult and Graduate Studies

The office of adult and graduate education is located on the third floor of Centennial Hall. The office may be reached at 1-800-488-3257, option 2 or at