In a major expansion of its Executive MBA programs, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business plans to open a satellite campus in the Washington, D.C., area so it can enroll a new cohort of executive MBA students there. Darden also said it is planning a host of enhancements to its MBA for Executives and Global MBA For Executives’ programs.
The new location will be on the upper floors of a leased facility in Rosslyn, Va., just across the Potomac River from the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials. Darden expects to launch the new Washington, D.C., cohorts this August, hoping to enroll as many as 65 students in each program.
The changes come out of a study, begun under former Dean Robert Bruner, on possible expansion into the booming D.C. market. “We’ve been looking at what our relationship should be with Washington, D.C.,” says Dean Scott Beardsley, who succeeded Bruner last July. “It has always been in our backyard and where we have the highest concentration of alumni. It’s a logical extension of what we do. We are the University of Virginia and not the University of Charlottesville, after all.”
‘THIS IS NOT JUST TARGETING THE D.C. MARKET’
Beardsley, however, also believes the D.C. location will significantly broaden the reach of the school, making it easier for students from outside the metro area, including internationals, to commute to sessions due to the city’s airports and Amtrak train station.
“This is not just targeting the D.C. market,” says Beardsley, who added that the school examined flight schedules in making its decision. “If you are living in any city, from Atlanta to Dallas, it is pretty easy to fly into Reagan National Airport. There are dozens of flights per day from many cities. And if you are in Philadelphia or Baltimore, it’s very easy to take the train down. So the market should be expanded. It’s just easier.”
The change, nonetheless, will intensify competition in the D.C. market. The big brand EMBA in Washington is put on by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Georgetown’s offering is a 20-month program that costs $131,400 and meets on alternating weekends with four one-week residencies. But several other schools, including American University, George Washington University, and the University of Maryland, also have MBA degree programs for executives. And only four months ago, the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management unveiled plans to bring an MBA program to D.C., specifically designed for staffers on Capitol Hill.
DARDEN’S D.C. PROGRAM WILL MEET MONTHLY ON FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY
Darden’s two offerings are so-called blended programs, delivered via a mix of online and in-residence sessions. The 21-month MBA for Executives program costs $139,350 and boasts monthly weekend residencies that brings students to its main campus in Charlottesville on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. Darden’s Global MBA for Executives costs $149,300, with residencies in Charlottesville and several intenational locations. Typically, distance learning classes are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30, though recordings of online classes are accessible to students who are not able to attend the live class sessions. Unlike most schools, Darden is a full case-study school so its EMBA programs are taught almost exclusively through case study discussions.
Beardsley says the school will update its pricing for the programs but that the final costs would be similar to the existing pricetags. Among other things, Darden is currently negotiating block rates at the Meridien Hotel next to the D.C. facility. Hotel accommodation will be included in the package just as it is in Charlottesville where Darden houses students in an executive education center.
While the Charlottesville version will remain on the Thursday-Friday-Saturday schedule, Darden is putting its Washington, D.C., cohort on a monthly Friday-Saturday-Sunday format. “That way, you can fly in late Thursday night or come in early on Friday morning and be out by Sunday night,” explains Beardsley. “The new format allows you to choose your home base, Washington or Charlottesville, and then choose either the regular EMBA, which is global or the intensive global, which has four residences abroad plus a global consulting project.