Active duty troops earn MBA through distance learning at Auburn University

AUBURN – Some college students are eager to go to the proverbial extra mile to get an advanced degree, but for 30 Auburn University students, that extra mile stretches into thousands. The students are active-duty military men and women pursuing Master of Business Administration degrees through interactive distance learning software from as far away as Africa and Afghanistan.

The students, officers in the United States Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy, log into a streaming video service provided by Auburn’s College of Business and make use of cutting-edge digital classroom management software to interact with professors and peers.

Capt. Niklaus Pleisch is a finance officer for the United States Air Force stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and deployed in Afghanistan. Pleisch said he chose Auburn’s distance-learning MBA program for the quality of its curriculum, its affordable tuition and its military-friendly reputation. He plans to use his MBA both to advance within the Air Force and to prepare for a civilian career.

“I’ve heard many fellow soldiers tell me their programs do not offer streaming video options, so it’s difficult for them to get the same material that the on-campus students get,” said Pleisch. “The material and delivery from Auburn has exceeded my expectations for a distance program.”

Pleisch has reaped immediate rewards from his studies. He has applied skills learned from an operations management term project to streamline processes in his office. He has helped his flight win the Financial Services Office of the Year Award from the Air Force Space Command and attributes several company grade officer awards to knowledge he gained from the MBA program.

Maj. Steve Kvaal, stationed in Arden Hill, Minn., serves in the United States Army as a battalion executive officer and acting commander of a tactical company in an Army psychological operations battalion. Enrolled in Auburn’s Executive MBA program, Kvaal credits the program’s curriculum for supplementing his Army training and helping him become a more self-aware and well-rounded officer.

Kvaal is one of many service men and women who participate in Auburn’s distance MBA program to gain skills both for immediate use in the Army and also to prepare for civilian work after retirement from the military. Kvaal cites Auburn’s strong reputation and accessibility as the reasons for his choosing the program, which he calls “the best bang for his buck.”

The College of Business at Auburn University is accredited at the undergraduate and graduate levels by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the highest standard of achievement for business schools. Less than one-third of business schools in the United States and only 15 percent of business schools worldwide meet the rigorous standards of this accreditation. Accreditation reflects an institution’s commitment to quality and to continuous improvement through a rigorous and comprehensive peer review.

Contact: Casey Jones (605) 381-3833 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (