Sloan Fellows: An Elite Mid-Career Degree At 3 World Class B-Schools

Sloan Fellows: An Elite Mid-Career Degree At Three World Class B-Schools

MIT Sloan Fellows MBA class portrait for 2022. The STEM-designated program offers fellows the choice between MIT Sloan Fellows MBA. Courtesy photo


It’s not surprising that MIT’s Sloan School of Management – itself named for Alfred P. Sloan – is home to the oldest Sloan Fellows program. Both have the same benefactor.

In 1930, MIT enrolled the world’s first cohort of Sloan fellows, and it just marked its 92nd year. The program expanded to Stanford GSB in 1957 and London Business School in 1968.

Sloan Fellows: An Elite Mid-Career Degree At Three World Class B-Schools

Johanna Hising DiFabio, assistant dean of Sloan Fellows MBA & Executive MBA at MIT Sloan

MIT’s STEM-designated Sloan program, called the MIT Sloan Fellows MBA, offers the choice between an MBA, Master of Science in Management, or a Master of Science in Management of Technology. Students deciding to pursue a Master of Science must complete a thesis. The program features two domestic trips – the New York Lens on Leadership Module, and the Washington D.C. Global Perspectives Module. In both, fellows engage with a diverse array of leaders from the private and public sectors.

The Class of 2023’s 109 students come from 30 countries and have an average of 15 years of work experience. It is also 37% women with 40 enrolled, a significant uptick over the last four years when the program enrolled between 25 and 27 women.

Nine of those women were deferred from 2020 or 2021 when the pandemic was at its peak disruption, which is the biggest factor in the increase, says DiFabio. But, the school also had more applications from women for this cohort than in any previous year and hosted at least one additional women’s event last fall.


“When I took over the Sloan Fellows Program in 2017, we really wanted to look at who, in today’s day and age, was looking to take a year-long sabbatical to really reinvent themselves,” DiFabio tells Poets&Quants.

“And it turns out, those are not all the same people, which makes the program a little bit more challenging to run.”

There are four general categories of candidates who typically apply to be an MIT Sloan Fellow:

  • One, students who have been entrepreneurs or who are interested in pivoting into the space.
  • Two, executives looking to upskill and move up in their own companies.
  • Three, those looking for a career transition, either in function or industry.
  • And four, people drawn to Sloan’s mission to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world.

“Given the years of experience that our students have, they have had a lot of success in their life, and they and are now looking to have significance,” DiFabio says.

“I think that MIT offers such a unique opportunity in that we have such a great technical, innovative school that then has a management school attached to it. Every single day we get to read about the new research and innovation coming out of MIT,” she says. “Our students are changemakers. They’re going to go out there and make this world a better place, and let us live in it a lot longer. That’s awesome.”

Sloan Fellows: An Elite Mid-Career Degree At Three World Class B-Schools

MIT Sloan School of Management’s Sloan Fellows program program is the largest of the three, with 109 students for the Class of 2023. Stanford’s program has 84 and London Business Schools has 52.


This summer is the first in three years that the incoming cohorts have been able to begin the program in person. MIT Sloan also added two new courses to the summer program: Leadership & Teams Lab and Organizational Processes, which all other Sloan MBA programs have.

DiFabio tells P&Q that Sloan has also worked hard to right size the program, making sure that the amount of content allowed ample time for retention while also protecting the rigor expected at a MIT program. It added reflection teams (separate from its study teams) for students to think deeply about what is happening in the classroom and in their coaching sessions while adding more executive coaching.

The school also gave students more space to chart their own course paths, a hallmark of MIT’s program.

“Students are so diverse in why they’re here and in what they’re hoping to get out of the experience,” DiFabio says. “Yes, we have a core, but students are in the driver’s seat, and we’re becoming much more explicit in terms of them driving where they want to go with their career, who they want to be connecting with, and what their curriculum should be. No one’s going to tell them any of that.”


MIT’s Sloan Fellow program seems tailor made for students like Ajetunmobi. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, he studied electrical engineering in undergrad and worked his first professional job in strategy and consulting at McKinsey & Company.

Over the last 13 years, he’s moved back and forth from his home country to the U.S., working in consulting, in the non-profit sector, and in a corporate role at Hewlett Packard. In 2015, he returned to Nigeria to help his country through what he considered an interesting transition. He worked with an organization that provided microloans to more than 2 million enterprises across the country.

Sloan Fellows: An Elite Mid-Career Degree At Three World Class B-Schools

Taiwo Ajetunmobi

He is now ready to transition into leading his own enterprise. Throughout this year as a Sloan Fellow, he’s working on building a digital bank for exports. The purpose is to help emerging markets, like Nigeria, push more of their products out into the world, and in turn, help stabilize their currency and protect citizens’ wealth.

The network he’s making at MIT is invaluable. Not just the professors, or guest lecturers, or industry contacts. But his classmates as well.

“The word I use is impressive. Not just in what they’ve achieved professionally, and that is stellar. But also the kind of people that they are. We have that moment when we say, ‘Wow. We are at MIT.’ But we didn’t get in here by mistake. MIT did a fantastic job putting this class together,” he says.

“My classmates are people with the right level of drive, the right level of curiosity, the right level of humility. You don’t often find that in one place.

“There’s a hunger to want to learn and be better. We all have this thread in our life, our career, for consistently striving to make the world a better place, and MIT has figured out how to weave them all into this really beautiful scarf.”

NEXT PAGE: Stanford’s MSx, a Sloan program for entrepreneurs and pivoters

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