3 reasons this UNA program was the right fit for this Huntsville veteran + defense exec


Mike Ledbetter UNA
In just over 6 months in the EDBA program, Mike has already been able to apply his learnings to his work responsibilities. (Erin Elise Photography / @e_elisephotography)

There comes a time in every career when you know you need to level up. Mike Ledbetter knew that furthering his education would be a surefire way to keep up with the demands of the rapidly evolving defense industry.

Read on to see how he’s doing that through the University of North Alabama’s Executive Doctor of Business Administration program.

Read more: 3 reasons this UNA program was the right fit for this Huntsville veteran + defense exec

Meet Mike Ledbetter

Mike Ledbetter UNA
Mike Ledbetter, DBA, coming soon. (Erin Elise Photography / @e_elisephotography)

Marine Corps veteran. Pilot. Cyber exec. Lifelong learner. Lots of titles have defined Mike Ledbetter’s career thus far, but that last one was his motivation for enrolling in UNA’s EDBA program.

As the Senior Vice President of Data Science and Cyber + Information Warfare at COLSA Corporation in Huntsville, Mike knows just how quickly the cyber world can change, and how important it is to stay ahead of those changes, especially in the defense industry.

Furthering his education has been a priority of Mike’s throughout his career, having already collected an MBA from Auburn and a master’s in information systems from UAH. Now, he’s taking his career and his education to the next level with an Executive Doctor of Business Administration from UNA.

1. By professionals, for professionals

Mike Ledbetter UNA
UNA makes it easy for Mike to be a Senior VP and student at the same time. (Erin Elise Photography / @e_elisephotography)

The format of UNA’s EDBA program is designed with working professionals like Mike in mind. The program only requires students to be on campus for one weekend per month. That means that they can continue to prioritize their professional commitments while also achieving their degree.

Mike knew he didn’t want his coursework to be 100% online, but also didn’t want to put his career on hold for the duration of an in-person program. He did want in-person interactions with professors and classmates, which UNA’s low-residency dynamic provided through its monthly residency weekends.

“I really enjoy the dynamic and the culture of UNA and the EDBA program. I look forward to the weekends going there. It’s interesting—most folks would dread to spend all day in class Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but I’ve really come to enjoy the interaction with my classmates and interaction with the professors. It’s really a nice, constructive culture.”

Mike Ledbetter, UNA EDBA student

2. Rigorous research

Mike Ledbetter UNA
Mike Ledbetter is about to add “Doctor” to his list of titles. (Erin Elise Photography / @e_elisephotography)

With two master’s degrees and a few decades of professional experience, Mike thought he knew what research meant before beginning the EDBA program in January of this year. That quickly changed, though, as he began to realize the rigor of research that the doctoral program would require.

His doctoral coursework has helped Mike crystallize the definition and applications of research both academically and professionally, as he seeks to connect the things he’s learning in class with their real-world counterparts.

“Learning how to effectively research and how to effectively understand research projects, and what does the data mean and what does it not mean, has been really helpful for me in analyzing our business model, our strategies and even our tactics and determine what makes sense.”

Mike Ledbetter, UNA EDBA student

3. A worthwhile commitment

Mike Ledbetter UNA
The sacrifices Mike is making to attain his degree are already paying off. (Erin Elise Photography / @e_elisephotography)

Mike knew when he enrolled that the EDBA program would require a lot of time and energy, and he advises prospective students to ensure they’re committed to and passionate about the subject matter. But, in the short time he’s been in the program, he’s already seen some of the payoff as he applies the things he’s learning in class to his position at COLSA.

Plus, students in the EDBA program complete an applied dissertation, allowing them to tackle industry problems with the support and guidance of UNA professors and ultimately impact not only their own workplace, but the industry as a whole along the way.

Nuts + bolts

The University of North Alabama’s Executive Doctor of Business Administration is an applied program that trains and equips people to make a difference in the real world of business. That said, here are some of the things that make UNA stand out: 

  • Cost: The program is competitively priced at about $33,030 per year for 3 years. Plus, UNA offers an EDBA scholarship (up to $25,000) to qualifying students.
  • Quality: UNA is among the 5% of business schools in the world to hold the prestigious AACSB accreditation.
  • Flexibility: This hybrid program is partially online with 10 on-campus weekend sessions per year. 
  • Relevance: The EDBA can open the door to promotions and career progression. It can also facilitate a career transition for those who are interested in consulting or teaching at the college level. 
  • Apply now: The next cohort begins in January 2023.

If you’re ready to take your career to the next level like Mike, find out more about the UNA Executive Doctor of Business Administration program now.

Sponsored by:

North Alabama - Sanders College of Business and Technology
Emily Phillips
Emily Phillips
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