Haas & Columbia Get An EMBA Divorce

Two of the best business schools in the world today (March 23) announced a divorce after a ten-year partnership.

Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Columbia Business School said that their Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program will come to closure in February 2013 when the current class graduates.

Deans Rich Lyons of the Haas School and Glenn Hubbard of Columbia vaguely said the joint decision was reached “in recognition of each school’s goals and future direction.”

When Berkeley first agreed to offer an executive program in the early 2000s, the school decided on a partnership with Columbia because it was in the midst of a number of initiatives and administrators were concerned about stretching the school’s resources. Columbia-Berkeley enrolled its first class in May 2002, nearly a year after Wharton arrived in Berkeley’s backyard with leased space in a San Francisco office building.

Since then, Wharton has established itself as the premier EMBA program on the West Coast, despite its roots in Philadelphia. Since Wharton enrolled its inaugural class in 2001, Wharton’s West Coast campus has graduated some 800 EMBAs, significantly above the output of Columbia and Berkeley’s joint program which will have graduated some 600 EMBAs by the time it concludes its program next year.

The Haas School said it now plans to launch a stand-alone MBA for Executives program in 2013, in addition to its full-time MBA and evening & weekend MBA programs. That decision to go it alone most probably led to today’s announcement to break up the partnership. Dean Lyons told Poets&Quants that the partnership “served both sides very well and was still attracting top students. But like all partnerships, (it) wasn’t evolving as quickly as either side of the partnership was evolving.”

The joint program between Columbia and Berkeley took a steep fall in The Financial Times’ ranking of EMBA programs last year, plummeting to a rank of 22nd from 13th in both 2010 and 2009. Haas has done much better on its own, gaining a rank of second for its evening and weekend part-time MBA program in the most recent U.S. News & World Report ranking. Haas full-time MBA program was ranked ninth in the U.S. in the Poets&Quants’ 2011 list.

The program had been truly unique. It brought together two leading faculties from two top-ranked business schools in two of the world’s great business centers—New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area—to create a single unique program. The only EMBA partnership between two top-ranked U.S. business schools, classes for this program met 18 times in California and seven times in New York, with the option to spend a term in New York. At $150,000 a pop, it has also been among the most expensive MBA in the market. Outside of Wharton’s San Francisco and Philadelphia EMBAs, and Kellogg’s program at Northwestern University, this had been the fourth most expensive MBA in the world.

The schools said that current students in the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program will continue taking classes at both schools’ campuses. As with prior graduates of the joint program, the Class of 2013 will be awarded MBA degrees from both Columbia and Berkeley and will become part of the alumni networks of both schools.

Prospective students who have been admitted to enter the Berkeley-Columbia Program in May 2012 will be offered three options: 1) enter any of Columbia Business School’s EMBA programs, 2) enter the Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA Program at the Haas School, or 3) enter the new Berkeley MBA Program for Executives when it begins in 2013.

The Berkeley-Columbia EMBA Program is taught equally by Berkeley-Haas and Columbia Business School faculty in classes held on both the Berkeley and Columbia campuses. The Berkeley-Columbia EMBA program spans 19 months with classes starting in May and ending in December of the following year. Commencement takes place in February.

  • b-school guy

    Unfortunate but necessary — these two schools are very different and a joint program would have been hard to sustain over the long-run.

    It’s much clearer to have allegiance to one school versus two.

    The Berkeley-Columbia program was definitely skewed toward Berkley in terms of perception

  • Guest

    Definitely necessary. Berkeley needs a top ranked EMBA program in its own right, and Columbia already has one. Comparatively, the program was more dilutive to Columbia’s brand equity (though has Haas improves, this would have changed). 

    • b-school guy

      Totally agree — LBS and Columbia’s program are more on par with each other. I wonder if HKU in the Global Asia program is dilutive to the CBS brand? It’s interesting how in the Global Americas program (LBS+CBS) and Berkeley-Columbia (Brk+CBS) you get two separate degrees from each school but in the Global Asia program (LBS+CBS+HKU), you get a joint-degree from all three.

      • BennyJH

         I have noticed the same thing, but I have a different take on it.  Almost all schools offering dual school EMBAs give two separate degrees.  However, all of the schools I have seen that join three or more schools give a joint degree.  I am willing to bet this is done for accreditation (probably AACSB) more than any other reason.  However, I could be wrong and if someone knows of an AACSB accredited program with three schools that offers three degrees, please correct me.

  • Guest

    I think they couldn’t compete againt the Wharton West program.. I was following the program as I was considering it. They had admission receptions literally a week before the announcement came out. They already have admits, who are being offered these options with Columbia and Berkeley etc. It is too much of a coincidence that this happened right when Wharton West opened their new campus.. applications/decisions were due.. my 2 cents.. Wharton West crushed the competition!

    • b-school guy

      that makes no sense – Berkely is launching their EMBA TO COMPETE against Wharton. Agreed Wharton is great but it’s not like the class sizes of Columbia-Berkely were 20 people… they were much larger

  • OurLegacySV

    Got an email notification about the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.

  • disqus_iBYnJIcSa3

    All those who commented here, If you went to B-School and can’t figure this out, let me tell you guys this – management and leadership in business is not your passion. Better look for something else to do, will be my advice.