NYU Stern’s First D.C.-Based EMBA Cohort 25% Larger Than Expected

Fabrice Coles is an incoming student in Stern’s new EMBA program in Washington, D.C. Courtesy photo.

A new crop of Stern School of Business Executive MBA candidates are set to spring forth. Not in New York’s downtown region, but in the downtown section of the nation’s capitol. The launch of Stern’s  new D.C.-based Executive MBA program is officially underway as the inaugural class currently sits in the first of three week-long residencies spread throughout the 22-month program. Today, Stern released a profile of its debut Washington, D.C., class.


A total of 50 students have enrolled, 10 more than the school anticipated for the program opener. For NYU Stern, entering a new market with already significant competition (see table below), including the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business with an EMBA based in Rosslyn, that’s a good and solid sign. No less crucial, NYU Stern has come into the market with the highest EMBA price tag at $165,000, vs. Darden’s $158,100 or the $139,900 cost for an EMBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Of all the local options in the Washington metro market, Stern’s EMBA performed best in U.S. News’ ranking this year, placing seventh best in the U.S. (see The Eyebrow Raisers In The 2018 U.S. News EMBA ranking), On average, Stern’s inaugural cohort of EMBA students boast 13 years of work experience and they hail from a mix of industry employers including Capital One, the World Bank, Deloitte, The Congressional Black Caucus, the Smithsonian, and the U.S. Army, among others.

Another pleasant surprise in addition to enrolling 25% more students than expected: A full 36% (18) of the inaugural class are women. While it’s not the highest number of female students seen in a Stern EMBA cohort (the NYC version has seen over 40%), “We’ve always been really proud of having strong numbers of women given the format and culture of our program,” explains Paula Steisel Goldfarb, associate dean of MBA admissions, financial aid and academic affairs. Steisel also shares that 34% of the cohort are under-represented minorities.


Deputy Vice Dean of Executive Programs and Faculty Director of Executive MBA Robert Salomon at the NYU’s Stern School of Business

Robert Salomon, deputy vice dean of executive programs and faculty director of the Executive MBA, expresses some surprise at the size of the first class. “I am across the board tickled that this is the way the class turned out,” he says. “My bias is I work for NYU so I think it’s an amazing program. Our faculty are awesome, and we offer students a lot. But I had no idea the response would be like this.”

The school has not only exceeded its target goal for the incoming class, but has already started enrolling for cohort #2 next year. Also filed under “didn’t see that coming” is the diverse representation of industries. According to Salomon, the first cohort proves not all Stern students are finance focused and not all students in the D.C. program work for the federal government.

“Whenever you think about D.C., you think about government,” says Salomon. “I was pleasantly surprised that we have more non-government people in the class. If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have suspected 50% would be military or government, but it’s far lower. The city is changing and I think it’s more high-tech than 20 or 30 years ago. So there’s a little more tech flavor to the class than I initially anticipated.”


Likewise, Salomon highlights the fact that financial services doesn’t appear to be a main attraction, either. With a program that offers two specialty tracks in Finance & Analytics and Leadership & Strategy, the school has observed more interest in strategy, leadership, and analytics than it has in finance.

“I think it speaks to a world in a post-financial crisis environment and coming out of a recession. People are looking at careers and work and wanting more meaning,” says Salomon. “People are starting to look outside of traditional financial services positions that back in the 80s and 90s were a mainstay for NYU Stern.”

Salomon admits that he expected the majority of students in Stern’s incoming class to be finance focused since many associate Stern with that field. “That perception is still there and the reality is there are strengths in a lot of those areas. But I think that what we’re observing in D.C. is a new reality that people want different roles. They want leadership roles in strategy in all kinds of organizations, tech firms, entrepreneurial firms, NGOs, etc.”


The once monthly commute to NYU’s Constance Milstein and Family Global Academic Center in downtown D.C. will be fairly short for a good portion of the students because 66% of the students in the first cohort reside within the immediate D.C. area.

Fabrice Coles, a resident of Silver Spring, MD, says he chose the NYU program to hone his financial and general management skills. But the New York native also noted a personal connection to NYU as the grandson of an alumnus. He also found the once month, Friday through Sunday format of the Stern offering convenient and appealing. “With a wife and three children, the ability to balance work, career and school is very important to me,” says Coles, executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I wanted to pursue my dreams while having the convenience of a program close to my home.”

Even so, a sizable 34% of Coles’ classmates obviously found the NYU Stern brand worth a trip because a third of the class will be trekking from points north, south, and west of D.C. including Florida, Maine, Illinois, and Montana.

The appeal, the school believes, is the once-a-month format. “In contrast with other EMBA programs, many programs do every other weekend. Typically a Friday and Saturday every other weekend,” says Salomon. “This format is once a month for three full days. It’s a lot easier to get one weekend off from work than two Fridays a month.”

That format, also used by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business when it expanded its EMBA offering to Los Angeles, was wholly intentional. “When we were developing the plans for D.C., we thought, ‘Let’s try something different,’” says Salomon. “We already have the standard format in NYC. We realized some people would find this format more convenient, and it would eliminate head-to-head competition between the two programs.”


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