UCLA Counters Ross With New MBA Option

It looks like UCLA isn’t going to allow the University of Michigan to put an Executive MBA program on its turf without a fight.

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management today (May 24) announced a new scheduling option for its Fully Employed MBA program (FEMBA) that addresses a hole in the market that Michigan’s Ross School was hoping to fill with a new EMBA program that launches this August. Unlike most of the other executive programs, which tend to meet twice a month on alternating weekends, the 20-month Michigan program requires student-executives to meet for class only once a month starting Friday morning through Saturday afternoon at the ultra-swanky Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills (see “Michigan Brings EMBA to Los Angeles.”

But now UCLA has responded with a hybrid online and in-class option that makes it possible for students to attend campus as few as four times each quarter. The in-person class sessions will be scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays at the UCLA Anderson campus, eliminating the need for students to take any time off from work or to hustle to evening classes during the work week. That novel scheduling option is a direct alternative to the new EMBA by Ross, which had viewed its once-a-month timetable as a key competitive advantage in the L.A. market.

What’s more, UCLA is wasting no time to get its new FEMBA option off the ground. The school said it plans to welcome its first cohort to campus this fall, though the application deadline for admission is less than two months away on July 15.

UCLA is pricing its new option at exactly the same level as its existing fully employed MBA program–$35,799 per year or a total of about $72,000 if a student completes the flex option through an accelerated route within 27 months. Otherwise, the FEMBA Flex schedule typically runs thirty-three months. The new Michigan program in Los Angeles is priced at a market high $136,000.

Though the admissions requirements, faculty, courses and degree are identical to UCLA’s FEMBA program, UCLA said that a portion of the FEMBA Flex course work is delivered via online lectures, collaborative group work and web-based learning tools. This track allows participants the ease of retrieving lectures and online activities within their own convenient schedule, yet still integrates conventional in-class learning. The Michigan program, in comparison, is based solely on in-class sessions.

The school appears to have done some market research and student recruitment because the news release announcing the program includes a promotional quote from an admitted student in the first cohort. “A traditional MBA schedule is not feasible, given my work schedule,” said Jason Fraser, an executive military officer stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. “FEMBA Flex is the ideal scheduling option, allowing me to balance my family, work and education effectively. The online platform is a neat aspect since I can watch the teacher lecture through video feed and still get a sense of being in the classroom. Plus, I get the in-class benefit which is absolutely essential for networking with my classmates and professors.”

Carla Hayn, senior associate dean for the UCLA’s executive MBA programs, said in a statement that the new option “offers working professionals, whose schedules may not offer them the flexibility to travel to campus as often as required, greater accessibility and opportunity to further their education. Our curriculum is extremely global already, and we want to make UCLA accessible to a range of professionals from corporate executives and military servicemen and women across the U.S. to stay-home parents looking to transition back into the workforce. UCLA Anderson wins when we bring the most energetic and dynamic leaders into the classroom and FEMBA Flex expands our ability to do that.”


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.