Days after the announcement that Goizueta Business School would offer a fully on-line EMBA program, Jaclyn Conner was hearing from prospective students that it was just what they needed.
Conner, Goizueta’s associate dean for executive MBA, tells Poets&Quants that she had a phone call with a gentleman who works at Panasonic, who lives in Atlanta, and was looking to expand his education, but he could never make a traditional EMBA work for his schedule. Weekends were for spending time with his kids, and spending even every other weekend on campus was just too daunting. The fully online version was exactly what he had been hoping for, Conner says.
Emory University’s Goizueta Business School announced last week the launch of a new, fully online format for its executive MBA Program. Ranked No. 8 in Poets&Quants’ latest ranking of executive MBA programs, Goizueta is the highest-ranked program to create a 100% online EMBA so far.
“Times have changed for working professional people. Having gone through this pandemic, people value their time more than anything these days,” Conner says. “We need to accept that, and we need to nurture that for our executive level population of students. It was important for us (to offer an online program) because we were listening to our students and our potential recruits, and the needs that they were expressing was that this is something that they just had to have.”
EXPANDING EMBA OPTIONS TO EXPAND REACH
The discussion to expand the enrollment options for executive EMBAs started even before the pandemic, Conner tells P&Q. In addition to its traditional on-campus program, it launched its hybrid format in 2020 after an 18-month research effort that found that prospective students increasingly are seeking greater flexibility, and the time students could commit to on-campus learning was getting shorter and shorter. A fully online program was the logical next step.
“At Goizueta Business School, we really pride ourselves on having intimate learning environments, and so we want our cohort size to be relatively small – a maximum of 60-something people. So the conversation focused on how do we scale but scale in a way that still maintains our core values for our learning environment?” Conner says. “And also, how do we scale in a way that attracts people that are outside of the South Eastern region, where we can have a much more diverse group of students for our networking opportunities of executive MBAs?”
Right now, there are 35 EMBA students in the on campus program and 16 students in the hybrid program for the graduating class of 2022. The hybrid program has students from 11 different states, and the online program is expected to have an even wider reach. It is expecting between 30 and 40 students on its first fully online cohort, which will begin this fall.
“We are always committed to quality versus quantity. That will not change and our admission requirements will not change,” Conner says.
SAME FACULTY, SAME CURRICULUM, SAME PRICE
Each of the three EMBA delivery formats will be taught by the same faculty, cover the same core curriculum, and receive the same intensive leadership development and career management support. They’ll also come at the same price: $108,730 in tuition and $11,521 in mandatory fees for a total cost of $120,251. For comparison, the average cost of an EMBA at P&Q’s 10 highest ranked programs is $141,153.
The online students also have opportunities to engage in social and networking events on campus if they so choose. For example, the school’s hosts an annual Fun on the Green carnival event as well as its Pathway to the C-Suite where established executives share their career journeys. Online students are also invited, but not required, to participate in the international business immersion trip.
“We intentionally have times where all three formats can come together and engage face-to-face, but then on top of that, we have times where all three formats will engage virtually,” Conner says. “For example, our Alumni Pop Ups are short, virtual events in which alumni come and talk about how they’ve used their degree and connect with EMBA students. So there are multiple ways for all of the delivery formats to engage in person as well as virtually.”
ROBERTO C. GOIZUETA GLOBAL CLASSROOMS
Like the other formats, the fully online version will take 18 months and require 27 core credits, six immersion credits and 24 elective credits. Students will take classes through Goizueta’s Global Classrooms, mixing real-time experiences, collaboration in breakout rooms, and at-home coursework. The classroom is designed so that, in some classes, professors will be engaging with in-person and on-line students during the same lecture while having access to virtual tools such as instant polling, whiteboards, chats, and other features to increase engagement.
The three global classrooms opened in May 2021 and feature hologram technology, while augmented and virtual reality projects are being developed. With multiple camera angles and state-of-the-art audio, faculty and students can see and hear each other through a wall of 20 to 40 high-definition monitors.
“When you walk into the global classroom, it really is a game changer,” Conner says. “From the students’ vantage point, I think the biggest difference (over Zoom) is they have different camera angles they can use to … actually be able to witness a lot of those nonverbal cues that take place during teaching.”
A FIRST BUT LIKELY NOT THE LAST
While Emory is the first of the top-ranked EMBA programs to offer a fully online option, it likely won’t be the last.
More than 88% of schools now report offering some form of distance learning compared to 73.9% in 2020 and just 55.3% in 2019, according to the Executive MBA Council’s 2021 Membership Program Survey.
Goizueta’s dive into a fully online program, however, was less about being first or worrying about what their peer schools were up to, and more about meeting the changing needs of working professionals.
“I think it’s important to recognize even now as we’ve gone through this pandemic, that people are working differently. And despite our desires to want to go back to normal, I think we all have to accept this is the new reality and people are working differently, which also means there are people who want to learn differently, and so we need to be able to accommodate that,” Conner says.
According to its latest class profile, Emory EMBAs are, on average, 40 years old with 14 years of work experience. The class make-up is 35% women; 20% African American, Hispanic and Native American; and 4% international. Class size is between 50 to 65 students.
There is no GMAT required in the online program. The school announced in August 2020 that it was going test-optional for its evening MBA and EMBA programs, a move that aligned with a growing number of graduate business programs. An increasing number of online programs, including in the MBA space, are removing GMAT requirements in lieu of applicants’ work experience.
Learn more about Emory’s new online EMBA here.
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