As director of the Evening UST MBA Program and a proud 2009 alumnus, I know firsthand the challenges of completing a rigorous graduate program while balancing a full-time job with other family and personal responsibilities. My wife and I both earned M.B.A.s while working full-time, and our weeknights were often filled by our two kids’ school activities, soccer games and dance practices. I know many of our classroom peers had similar situations and demanding jobs requiring frequent travel and evening work. How could we fit in our MBA study?

For current and prospective UST MBA students facing such schedule challenges, I am excited about the new blended learning options we’ve been developing. UST MBA blended courses will offer the same high-quality, engaging and rigorous learning experience we’ve always offered, but will provide schedule flexibility by leveraging innovative instructional technologies to complement less frequent classroom meetings. Students enrolled in blended courses will only physically attend five, four-hour classroom meetings during the term, but must have ready access to a computer with high- speed Internet services for online interactions with their instructor and classmates during the time between in-person meetings.

We are also launching an entirely blended program structure for new students in September 2012, the Blended Saturday Plan. This 32-month structured enrollment plan is ideal for students with demanding or uncertain weeknight schedules, heavy travelers or those who are comfortable with technology and prefer a little more schedule independence during their graduate business experience. Meeting for only five Saturdays per term (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), students will complete two courses each fall, spring and summer terms.

St. Thomas was a Twin Cities pioneer in developing an MBA for busy working professionals in 1974, and we are proud to continue that leadership with this innovative format. We will continue to offer our respected traditional classroom formats, but addition of these blended format options is a natural evolution of our part-time MBA program. They provide more access and flexibility for today’s busy MBA student managing personal and professional obligations, while still maintaining the academic rigor, sense of community and student/faculty connections that make a St. Thomas education so valued. I wish they had been available when I was a UST MBA student!