Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MIT Executive MBA gets a name change

About four months ago, Sloan announced it was launching an Executive MBA program. At the time, it was called the "Sloan MBA for Executives," but I've just learned from the director of the program that it will officially be called the "MIT Executive MBA" (the program website will be updated to reflect that at some point, but I don't know when). Note that "Sloan" is no longer part of the name. I know there were a lot of discussions around what to call it, but it would be interesting to know the reasoning behind that choice.

The first MIT Executive MBA cohort will be coming to campus next month. I believe there are about a half-dozen week-long sessions, but for the rest of the time they will be here on Fridays and Saturdays for class. I've spoken with one of the incoming students who wanted to learn more about the core (which closely matches that of the full-time Sloan Fellows program that I belong to, in terms of topics and faculty). Through the discussion with him, and after learning about the applicant pool from the director, I have been very impressed with the calibre of students attracted to the program. In many respects, they are similar to the Sloan Fellows in terms of their background, although they have the added benefit of being able to take their lessons right back to their workplaces.

The lobby of the new Sloan building (E62).
They are not, however, getting the same immersive experience that we go through (for some perspectives on this, please see my post about the MIT Sloan Fellows summer "boot camp"). In addition, the elective options are limited in the Executive MBA. Part of the reason is they are only on campus on Fridays and Saturdays, which prevents them from joining classes offered to the rest of Sloan and other schools within MIT. Another reason is the relatively small size of the Executive MBA cohort -- there just aren't enough people to create a lot of electives. That said, they have created special advanced classes in some of the most popular elective areas at Sloan, such as advanced corporate finance, new enterprises, and negotiation. Further, when the cohort grows in future years, there will be more room to expand elective options as elective class sizes reach the required critical mass. I also see some interesting action learning options on the Executive MBA curriculum page, such as O-Lab and GO-lab.

MIT Executive MBA will be a hit

As I learned more about the program over the summer, it occurred to me that the MIT Executive MBA was destined to be a hit. In the United States, executive MBAs are already a very popular alternative to full-time MBA degrees. In the United States, corporate appetites for full-time MBA programs for promising executives has declined in the past decade, owing to the cost, recession-related cutbacks, and the fact that positions have to be backfilled for a year or two while the student completes his or her studies. Many companies are turning to executive MBAs, which are less costly and allow the employees continue to work. I've talked to one executive who says his company sends people to the  University of Chicago's well-regarded EMBA, but the company will not invest in full-time degrees for their employees.

The response to MIT's new executive MBA has been huge. This is despite the short lead time between the spring launch and the application deadline in August. According to the director, the large number of people expressing interest and following up with an application allowed the program to be extremely selective for the first cohort of 60 students. This bodes well for the students and Sloan faculty, and should be a wake-up call not only for local executive programs in the Boston area (Boston University, Bentley, etc.) but also for top-tier executive MBA programs all over the northeast. MIT Sloan has competencies that are hard to duplicate in areas such as technology, its quantitative curriculum, entrepreneurship, and action learning. I predict the new MIT Executive MBA will attract a lot of motivated and highly qualified professionals who are looking for a serious challenge, and would otherwise be placing their greatest hopes on the competition.

For more insights into the full-time Sloan Fellows program, please read the following posts. For information about the MIT Executive MBA, please visit the program home page.

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