P&Q: Do you think that MOOCs and online MBA degree programs has impacted the EMBA market? If not, do you foresee some disruption in the future?
Velasco: I don’t think they have dramatically impacted our EMBA program. The students are getting more tech-savvy, but outside of a couple of schools I cannot think of any serious players in that market place. That said, we are certainly getting the pressure to do more blended learning. But the reason I don’t see it impacting the program is we already hit a balance point of the face-to-face classroom experience with the online portion. There is more of a value you get from hearing great professors. But there is also a lot of benefit from a rigorous classroom discussion. There is also a point about the personal networks you can draw upon for the next 15 years.
For example, one of our students was hired to head-up a top firm and then hired the top three spots from Mendoza. That requires a level of trust that can only be developed through face-to-face engagement. You do not see that depth of relationship when all interaction is online. But we are watching and paying attention to this side of the education. We are focusing more education and having people understand the benefits only found with face-to-face time. I see more of the push for change happening in the traditional MBA as 20-somethings and the younger generation continually look more and more for more subject-specific degrees.
P&Q: Have applications and enrollment increased, decreased or remained the same in Notre Dame’s EMBA program?
Velasco: We saw a drop in the 2008 to 2010 timeframe. But we never felt like we weren’t going to hit targeted enrollment numbers. The team had to work a little harder but we got there. Applicant numbers seem to have stabilized. The most recent entering classes look to be really solid. We are going to be OK. We have a tight network with other schools and this is what I am hearing from everybody. Outside of the elite schools, everyone has to hustle but nothing onerous to what we see on horizon. Since 2010, we increased since then and have stabilized.
P&Q: How do you see the EMBA market changing in the next five to ten years?
Valesco: You know, I am not sure how I see it changing but this is something we continue to pay attention to. All of the schools are paying attention to the specialized master’s programs and the traditional MBA being pressured by those programs. But I think as the marketplace gets more and more competitive, students are paying more attention to getting what they need to be effective after graduation and during the program. We also obviously have to pay attention to the online world and watch for increases. We will continue to meet needs through blended learning.
P&Q: Are EMBA students requiring more career management service? If so, exactly what kinds of help are they seeking and getting?
Velasco: They do seem to require more, not in terms of direct placement but more in terms of career management after they have a job. Specifically, they are feeling the need to have guidance as to how to discuss the benefits of an EMBA degree. Obviously there are requests to learning more about looking out for the future, how to move up in an organization, and how to manage and invest well. So we help them communicate the benefits of the degree within the organizations that employ them..
We have a career management office dedicated to bringing recruiters and speakers to campus but we don’t see a lot of need for placement unless someone is in between jobs. It is mainly career guidance.
P&Q: Who are your program’s primary competitors?
Valesco: First and foremost, there are a fair amount of geographic competitors. Ross, Kellogg, Chicago and others are geographically competitive. As we have changed our curriculum, we are attracting more students who are applying to these programs. We also see some national competition from those who focus more on values-based leadership—mainly from other Jesuit schools. That said, since coming to Notre Dame in 2009 we have seen a much higher yield ratio. The students we make offers to are coming here. We think a lot of it has to do with the values-based leadership. They want to explore that part of leadership. We work for that unique experience.
P&Q: Any other thoughts?
Valesco: A couple things. All EMBA programs are going to have to continue to reflect on the relevance to what people need in work place. We have to continually have a more applied, less theoretical framework. With EMBA tuitions, not ours, but others, going into the $150,000+ range, it is increasingly important. It is as much as getting a starter home and people want a good return on investment. The second is there is going to be more of a commentary on business as a whole. The role of executives in society is pertinent. The discussion about the role of business in creating opportunities, generating wealth and a broader stakeholder future are all topics that are relevant for all of the EMBA programs to continue to think about.
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