Duke’s Hybrid Degree For Elite Execs

Students in Duke's Global Executive MBA travel to six international cities as part of the program, including New Delhi

Students in Duke’s Global Executive MBA travel to six international cities as part of the program, including New Delhi

Back in 1996 when most people were firing up their modems, tapping out instant messages under ridiculous AOL screen names and patiently waiting for web pages to load several minutes later, students at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business were logging in for class.

The Global Executive MBA has been around for nearly two decades. It started in 1996, before Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  While much has changed since then, the premise is still the same – to bring students together from all over the world to learn about international business. 

But the Global Executive MBA is not an online degree, at least according to John Gallagher, director of Fuqua’s executive MBA programs.  Blended is the term he prefers to use – 60% of the learning takes place during face-to-face residencies in the U.S., Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and the remaining 40% is completed during distance learning periods, hence the online associations.

The program tends to attract the business elite. The average age is 39, and students must have 10 years of experience to even apply – the average is 15 years. It’s also extremely diverse – 59% of students are non-U.S. citizens and they represent nearly every industry. Notable alumni include Jonathan Browning, CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America, Joe Euteneuer, CFO of Sprint Nextel, and Ahmad Sharaf, chairman of the Dubai Mercantile Exchange.

Students pay a hefty price to rub shoulders with business savvy peers from all over the globe. Tuition for the 15-month program is $162,000, some $50,000 more than Duke’s full-time MBA. Students are also expected to attend six residencies all over the world, and each one lasts several weeks. In short, it’s not your average MBA.

Poets & Quants spoke with John Gallagher to find out what makes this program so unique. He explains everything from the technology that makes it tick, to who should apply and why it’s so expensive.

Could you provide an overview of Duke’s Global Executive Program?

By design it’s very much a blended program in every sense of the word. Students who attend can live anywhere in the world. We have a truly extraordinary diversity of regions and industries represented. The program is one of the most senior executive programs out there – our average age is 39.

It has a strong focus on international business. The classroom meetings take place in six international cities, including St. Petersburg, London, Dubai, New Delhi, Shanghai and Bangkok. To help students make sense of these experiences, we offer three courses that run the full length of the program: Leadership for the Global Executive, Global Markets and Institutions, and Culture, Civilization and Leadership. The culture and civilization course explores the differences between regions and how those affect the conduct of business.

The program is 15 months and divided into five terms – each one follows a similar format.  Students start with a several-week reading period, then meet up for an intensive two-week residency in cities around the world where they attend classes, listen to guest speakers, work on team projects and participate in cultural immersion events.  Students then go back to their respective home cities for a two-month distance learning period over our online learning platform. Students spend their first and last residencies on the Duke campus in Durham, North Carolina.