Georgetown’s Executive Master’s In Leadership Goes Hybrid

Inside Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Courtesy photo

In a move the school attributes to market demand, Georgetown University’S McDonough School of Business is transforming its Executive Master’s in Leadership (EML) degree to a hybrid format.

Beginning in the summer of 2023, in-person classes will be held every six weeks over a long weekend, and live virtual sessions will occur every other Saturday.

“Leaders now really need to understand how to manage and lead others in these new environments,” says Catherine Tinsley, McDonough’s Raffini Term Professor and Academic Director for the Executive Master’s in Leadership (EML) Program. “We took a hard look at our Executive Masters and Leadership program and we said, ‘What are the parts that we really want to retain, and what are the parts that we need to improve to make it something that is responsive to the needs of today’s leaders?’”


Now in its 18th year, the EML is a one-year master’s degree targeting mid-career executives. The average years of experience for the current cohort is 16 years, and it is 24% female and 29% underrepresented minorities.

It features 12 core courses, three experiential residencies (two domestic and one global), and personal coaching. Students also complete a capstone project on a leadership challenge relevant to their work and team-oriented global consulting projects.

Under the current format, students take 12 core classes every other weekend on the McDonough campus. Each core is centered around a leadership competency such as using evidence to make effective decisions, negotiating for mutual advantage, creating a change in culture, and so on. Students also gather for three in-person residencies: An opening and closing residency as well as an international consulting project.

In the new format, students will come together a total of nine times: the three residencies as outlined above as well as six in-person class weekends (Friday through Sunday). Each of the 12 modular courses will begin with a live-virtual Saturday session, and 10% of the curriculum will be delivered asynchronously. The program will retain the one-on-one executive coaching throughout the program.

The new format will not change the sticker price, however. Tuition for the June 2022 intake was $79,424 which included specified meals during class weekends, parking during class weekends, accommodations at off-site and international residencies, and course materials. Executives will, however, save on travel and accommodation costs during the online Saturdays.


“Essentially what we’ve noticed, particularly since COVID, was that the future of the workplace is changing,” Tinsley says. “The Great Resignation coupled with the shortages in talent that already existed, have created a situation where organizations have to be responsive to workers’ demands to have flexible and hybrid schedules.”

Georgetown extracted the essential elements from its current EML degree – the small cohorts, the multi- and cross-disciplinary focus, in-person experience, and executive coaching – while adopting others to the realities of the new workplace such working in hybrid teams.

The average work experience of EML students is about 15 years, and the students come from a variety of sectors – both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, education, government, military and others. Bringing these different perspectives together, in the same room, was something McDonough wanted to retain, Tinsley says.

“So many problems transcend sectors and job categories. You wouldn’t imagine that a problem that they have in the Marine Corps translates really well to a similar problem facing a consultant group, but it does,” Tinsley says. “At the same time, we wanted to teach leaders how to interact with others in these virtual environments because I think the most important thing about being a leader is maintaining presence and close personal rapport.”


Georgetown is hardly alone in looking at different formats in its executive education portfolio. Kellogg School of Management is experimenting with blended delivery for its EMBA electives and the school’s digital pioneer, Prof. Mohanbir Sawhney recently told P&Q that omni-channel delivery is likely the future. (See: Is Omni-Channel The Future of Executive Education? Kellogg’s Digital Pioneer Weighs In.)

This summer, INSEAD announced the creation of a new 12-month online executive certificate program, LEAD, to launch in November. It will be the school’s flagship certificate offering, and is longer and more comprehensive than its other exec ed offerings.

And The Wharton School became the first of the big five business schools to break the ice in online MBAs with its Global MBA Program for Executives. The program will be 25% in-person and 75% live online.

Georgetown’s move is in response partly to lessons learned from the pandemic and partly from student feedback, Tinsley says. On the one hand, students like the convenience of not having to travel every other weekend and don’t have to take as much time off at work. On the other, time online takes away from the in-person time they get with their cohorts – a key selling point for executive education.

“One thing that we were forced to learn with the pandemic is just how much you can communicate online and how much you can do groups virtually,” Tinsley says. “What the research shows is that it’s very important to have initial meetings in person, and that’s why the opening residency is all in person.”

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