KINGSTON, R.I. – Aug. 24, 2020 – The University of Rhode Island and Széchenyi István University (SZE) in Hungary have signed a five-year agreement to launch a dual-degree Master of Business Administration program at the Hungarian university starting in September 2020.
The two-year master’s degree is the first MBA program in Hungary to be taught in English and accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the global business education association that is widely regarded as the pinnacle of business school accreditation.
“The University’s MBA program has been a great asset for our students to expand their business knowledge, and this is a great opportunity to share this program with students in Europe,” said Maling Ebrahimpour, dean of the URI College of Business. “It is also a great chance to grow our business graduate program while expanding it to a global level.”
“The only AACSB accredited MBA program in Central Europe, instructed solely by American URI College of Business professors, is of immense relevance for Hungarian applicants as well as for candidates from the entire region. In a globalized world, propelled by value chains, the online dual (double) degree program delivers world-class knowledge and offers a flexible learning pace for students admitted,” said Eszter Lukács, vice-rector for academic affairs for SZE.
Széchenyi István University, with an enrollment of about 13,000, is located in the cities of Győr and Mosonmagyaróvár in northwest Hungary. The area, located centrally between the capitals of Hungary, Austria and Slovakia, is a major automotive center, and the university has a deep tradition in engineering and research, particularly in the automotive industry. It also offers programs in IT, architecture, economics, international relations, law, social work, health and sports sciences, musical arts, agriculture and teacher training (humanities).
URI President David M. Dooley and then-SZE Chancellor Bálint Filep, who currently serves as the president of the University, and Rector Péter Földesi signed the cooperation agreement in July 2019. Discussions to form the dual-degree program formally began in March 2018 when officials from SZE visited with Ebrahimpour and Shaw Chen, associate dean for graduate programs and global business area coordinator, on the Kingston Campus.
Széchenyi University officials were interested in adding doctoral courses taught in English, and Chen and Ebrahimpour have long served on the board of the academic organization Decision Sciences Institute with Gyula Vastag, director of Széchenyi’s Doctoral Program in Management, who was heading SZE’s efforts. “We’ve known Gyula since the 1990s,” said Chen. “That’s a long relationship.”
In August 2018, Ebrahimpour and Chen traveled to Hungary to discuss the structure of the program, and Chen returned to Hungary that November to hammer out details. In April 2019, Lukács visited URI to meet with Embrahimpour, Chen and Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Gifty Ako-Adounvo and Graduate School Dean Nassar Zawia.
“This academic cooperation agreement is one signification of the fact that URI is internationally recognized as a world class institution with talented faculty and curriculums that are both innovative and world ready,” said Ako-Adounvo. “This cooperation is also an opportunity for URI faculty to collaborate with SZE colleagues and engage in global teaching experiences, which in turn helps shape new teaching environments for students at URI to develop global competencies. In addition, these collaborations open doors for global education experiences such as studying abroad and internships for URI students.”
“This is the first time URI will deliver our program, not just offsite, but out of the country,” said Chen. “This is a great step forward for the growth of the graduate program and for our global initiative.”
The dual-degree program will follow URI’s MBA program, the largest graduate program at URI. The MBA program was recently revamped allowing students more flexibility in choosing classes to customize the program to their professional needs. Students also have the ability to add certificate training in such fields as labor relations, cybersecurity, and human resources.
The URI-SZE program, geared toward working professionals, requires the completion of 42 credits – the equivalent of 120 credits in the Hungarian system – over four semesters, with classes taught online and in-person.
Under the agreement, the MBA program will be taught in English by URI College of Business faculty. The majority of the courses will be taught online, with some traditional courses taught in Hungary. Students in the program will also be able to participate in a special summer residency program on the Kingston Campus, enhancing their cultural and academic engagement.
Students in the program must meet the admission requirements of both universities as well as English language proficiency requirements. Students will also have to meet the same academic requirements of traditional URI MBA students.