Michigan Brings EMBA to Los Angeles

First it was Wharton, establishing a West Coast campus in San Francisco for a California-based version of its highly successful Executive MBA program.

Now the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is getting into the act, with the announcement today (Nov. 30) of an Executive MBA program in Los Angeles.

Ross will begin receiving applications for its 20-month EMBA in L.A. in January with a program start date in August of 2012. It’s hoping to enroll an initial class of 35 to 50 students. The school will be moving in on the turf of two big players in graduate school education: UCLA’s Anderson School and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School. Poets&Quants ranks the Anderson program as the seventh best in the country, while Marshall’s EMBA program is ranked tenth. Ross’ existing EMBA program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is ranked just ahead of UCLA at sixth.

Some 246 students are currently enrolled in UCLA’s EMBA program which costs $113,661. Some 330 students are currently enrolled in USC’s executive MBA program which costs $114,000. A spokesman for Ross said the LA version of its EMBA would be priced the same as its Ann Arbor program for residents: $136,000. Currently, Ross has 129 EMBA students–about half as many as UCLA and little more than a third of USC’s enrollment.

The Ross spokesman said the school has been scouting locations in Los Angeles for its new West Coast home and has narrowed the choice down to two or three options.

“Michigan Ross is a top-tier, global brand that already attracts a significant number of candidates from the West Coast,” said Ross Dean Alison Davis-Blake in a statement. “Thus, Los Angeles offers an ideal entry point for the Michigan Ross EMBA. We bring an action-based, once-a-month format that appeals to forward thinkers, entrepreneurs and career switchers eager to innovate in the global economy.”

The news release announcing the program contains a line that is not going to make UCLA or USC welcome its new competitor in L.A. “Delivering the Ross EMBA on the West Coast opens the door to a leading MBA customized for extremely busy executives who would otherwise not travel outside the region,” the school says in its statement.

Wharton entered the West Coast market ten years ago in 2001 and now has more than 700 alumni who earned their Executive MBA degrees in San Francisco. Wharton had a big advantage in northern California: Stanford does not offer an EMBA program, and Berkeley’s offering is a small, prestigious joint partnership with Columbia Business School in New York. The Berkeley-Columbia program enrolls 70 students a year who take 18 classes in California and seven in New York. The program costs $157,440.

Wharton is moving that program and other exec ed offerings to a new San Francisco campus in the historic Hills Plaza building on the city’s Embarcadero. The campus is scheduled to open in January of 2012. The Wharton EMBA program in San Francisco is the most expensive MBA in the world with a $172,200 pricetag. Wharton’s success on the West Coast may have emboldened Michigan’s Ross School.

The West Coast version of Ross’ EMBA will replicate the Ann Arbor curriculum. At times, the school said, members of both cohorts will convene in the same location and engage in coursework together. Candidates begin in August of one year and graduate 20 months later in April. With each monthly residency, leading Michigan Ross faculty will deliver programming from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon. “As with Ann Arbor, the West Coast location will be all-inclusive, state-of-the-art and centrally located,” the school said. Tuition and fees cover lodging, dining, books and other supporting materials.

“This growth on the West Coast allows Michigan Ross to build on a strong alumni presence in the region,” added Davis Blake, who became dean of Ross in July of 2011. She had been dean of the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota. “We are confident Ross graduates, who know firsthand the value proposition of a Michigan degree, will recommend candidates, sponsor employees and recruit our graduates. This West Coast expansion allows us to respond to a market need and replicate that model of delivery to future markets across the U.S. and beyond,” she said.

Davis-Blake anticipates delivering additional off-site programs in the near future. The school’s Global MBA Program currently offers modules in Japan, Korea and China and concludes with an extended residency in Ann Arbor. Ross also delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs across the globe.

Davis-Blake is confident the Michigan Ross EMBA will be “the program of choice” for senior-level candidates seeking a general management curriculum from their home base in Los Angeles.

The Ross program boasts a so-called Executive Multidisciplinary Action Projects course similar to those in its full-time MBA program. During ExecMAP, EMBA students work in teams to execute “high-level strategic projects” for organizations that cover a vast array of industries and range from global multinationals to emerging startups in a variety of geographic locations. “ExecMAP offers a unique opportunity for executives to immerse temporarily in an alternate industry, work overseas, or get inside an entrepreneurial venture,” the school said.

Candidates for the Michigan Ross EMBA Program typically have 10-15 years of experience, with more than five years of supervisory experience. Programming is customized for candidates’ significant expertise and appeals to leaders at the director, VP or chief executive level. Candidates also include high-potential leaders seeking to advance their careers and ascend to senior management in their organizations. The curriculum places intense focus on personalized leadership development and delivers strategic and global perspective, the school said.

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