Student Handbooks

MBA for Professionals Student Handbook - Tips for a Successful Experience

Advice from Recent Graduates

The Willamette MBA is a demanding and rewarding professional and academic experience. It will require you to learn new concepts, apply what you learn to organizations, develop new professional and leadership behaviors, and effectively manage your time and energy; all critical skills for current and future leaders. Recent graduates offer the following tips for academic success at the Atkinson School:

  • Study in groups of two to six students to benefit from support and expertise of your student colleagues.
  • Seek assistance from faculty, staff, fellow students and University resources.
  • Plan your time. Atkinson courses require a consistent effort and pace as opposed to concentrated study for short periods of time. Understanding today's lecture, formula, or case usually depends on mastering the previous assignment
  • Avoid getting bogged down in one class and letting others slip. Understand the benefits and limitations of dropping or withdrawing from a course. You may withdraw from a course any time prior to the final class session of the course. Seek advice from the Assistant Dean/Director of Admission if you have questions.
  • Use the tutors.

Pursue the Tools of Knowledge, Experience and Career Management

The Willamette MBA is a graduate professional degree. A professional degree requires a different approach than an undergraduate degree. A successful MBA experience requires professional growth in three areas: knowledge, experience and career management.

Knowledge is important ...but it's not enough by itself.
Experience is important ...but it's not enough by itself.
Career management is important ... but it's not enough by itself.
It takes all three to meet your professional goals.

The best way to be sure you meet your career goals is to fully participate in all aspects of the MBA program.


MBA for Professionals students are welcome to seek advice or communicate with any member of the faculty or staff. Faculty and staff are available during individual office hours and by appointment, email and telephone. Faculty and staff are also often available on a drop-in-basis.

The Assistant Dean/Director of Admission is available to meet with students on the Salem campus and the Portland Center by appointment. The Assistant Dean/Director of Admission is also available by email, telephone, and on a drop-in basis. 

Course Difficulties
and Issues

Students are expected to be professional and proactive in discussing difficulties with course concepts, completing course work as assigned, grades, and other issues with the faculty member.

The accepted process for discussion of course issues at the Atkinson School is as follows.  First, talk to the faculty member involved in the concern. If talking to the faculty member does not solve the concern, then the student should talk to Assistant Dean/Director of Admission, Alex Subert. If talking to Alex Subert does not solve the concern, then the student should talk to Senior Associate Dean Madhu Rao.

Online Resources - AGSM Directory, Schedule of Classes, Grade Reports, Graduation Audit

You have easy online access to the Atkinson School directory (all faculty, staff and student names, emails and pictures), schedule of classes, grades and graduation audit.

Atkinson School Directory:

Schedule of Classes:

Grade Report:

Graduation Audit:

Individual Tutoring

Tutoring is generally available for any MBA for Professionals course in which a student is currently registered. Tutors are second year students in the early career/career change MBA program.

Individual appointments are available (Salem and Portland) as well as drop in hours at the Salem campus. There may be times when a tutor's schedule does not allow them to come to Portland -- in that case MBAP students should plan to come Salem or tutor via telephone, etc.

A schedule for drop-in hours on the Salem campus is available at  No appointment is needed for drop-in tutoring.

MBAP students interested in working with a tutor on an individual basis should contact Judy O'Neill, Associate Dean and Director of Admission, at to request tutoring. Your email request should include the course for which you are seeking tutoring. Arranging an appointment with a tutor may take a few days, so students should be proactive in their requests for tutoring.

Students are expected to utilize tutors in a manner that falls well within school and course policies in regard to collaboration, academic honesty and ethical behavior. The tutor's job is to help the student understand the concepts and processes involved in the course so the student can successfully complete their own work. Tutors may not provide the answers to homework problems or do homework for a student.

Disability and Learning Services

Willamette University is committed to the full access and inclusion of all qualified students in its programs. The Willamette Disability Services office facilitates reasonable accommodations for students with a qualifying disability or temporary medical condition while maintaining institutional standards. Students with a disability should contact Lori Fontaine at the Willamette University Disability Services Office.

Communicate Your Concerns

Students are expected to be professional and proactive in discussing their concerns. The accepted process for communicating your concerns at the Atkinson School is as follows.  First, talk to the student, faculty or staff member involved in the concern. If talking to the faculty or staff member involved does not solve the concern, then the student should talk to Assistant Dean/Director of Admission, Alex Subert. If talking to Alex Subert does not solve the concern, then the student should talk to Senior Associate Dean Madhu Rao.

Course Evaluations

Every Atkinson School course is evaluated to stimulate improvement in the quality of teaching and learning in the MBA program. The information provided by students helps pinpoint specific strengths, weaknesses, and potential improvements. Students are encouraged to discuss a course with the professor at any time and do not have to wait until the conclusion of the semester to provide input about a course.

Course evaluations are administered online near the end of the semester to ensure as many students as possible complete and return the evaluations. Students are notified in advance when course evaluations will be available.

Results are distributed to the faculty member after the recorder receives final grades for the course. Original copies of the evaluations are kept on file for three years by the dean and remain confidential.

In accordance with the School's Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures, course evaluations are made available to the Personnel Committee in assessing the faculty member's contributions to the School's mission. During regularly scheduled personnel reviews, the faculty member is invited to respond to the evaluations by explaining actions he or she has taken or plans to take to improve the course. These reviews also influence decisions to retain, promote, tenure, and allocate resources to the faculty member. The School treats the course evaluations seriously.

Requests for Exceptions to Academic Policies or Procedures

Students requesting an exception to academic policies or procedures must submit a written request and rationale for the request. The proposal should be directed to the Assistant Dean/Director of Admission ( who will confer with Madhu Rao, Senior Associate Dean for a decision. The following are required of all written proposals.

  • The student must explain the request in detail
  • The student must provide information about any discussion or tentative agreements that may have occurred between the student and a faculty member (if any)
  • If a tentative agreement has already been made with a faculty member, the student must provide the signature of the faculty member involved or the faculty member must send an email directly to the Assistant Dean/Director of Admission discussing their level of support for the proposal and any other comments or suggestions
  • The student must state a clear rationale for the request as to why it is the best alternative for their educational and career goals

If the proposal is not approved, the Assistant Dean/Director of Admission will notify the student via email.

If the proposal is tentatively approved, the student must complete an interview (in person or on the telephone) with the Assistant Dean/Director of Admission to discuss the implications and regulations governing the requested exception and any future implications of the exception.

Following the interview, the student must sign in writing that they understand and accept the exception that has been made and the conditions and regulations governing the exception. The signature is required for the exception to be implemented. Failure to provide a written statement accepting the conditions and regulations governing an exception voids any tentatively approved exception to policy or procedures.

Students should note that the following basic requirements of the MBA degree are never modified:

  • Satisfactory completion of the minimum number of credits required for graduation
  • Satisfactory completion of required courses (or substitute courses approved by the Senior Associate Dean)
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 in Willamette MBA course work