Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business boasts one of six EMBA programs in the New York metro region that gains a ranking. Poets&Quants places the school’s offering at a U.S. rank of 50th, while The Economist ranks Gabelli 36th among the best U.S. Executive MBA programs.
Fordham annually enters two cohorts that complete the program together: a 30-strong group at the school’s Lincoln Center campus that begins in September and a smaller 18-member class at its Westchester campus that kicks off in January.
Francis Petit, associate dean of global initiatives and partnerships, says the main attractions for students at Fordham is the one-weekend-a-month schedule and the close, collaborative ties students form with each other. “The overall takeaway is we do things throughout the program to make them bond more,” says Petit. “In the end when they graduate they really, really are very tight with their classmates. If Fordham is anything, Fordham is personable. So we try to create a difference experience on the front end.”
That is why Petit limits enrollment to no more than 35 students. “Anything larger than 35 students and I feel like different silos and cliques form,” he says. “But when you have this number, the group is more whole and more one.”
Satisfaction apparently runs high, with graduates often recommending the experience to others. “One of the things we pride ourselves on is the number of referrals we get,” adds Petit. About 65% to 70% of our student body comes out of referrals. We really try to foster that.”
At a cost of $102,750 for either the Lincoln Center or Westchester programs, the EMBA program is among seven EMBA options in the New York metro area with a six-figure price tag, though it’s half the price of Columbia Business School’s EMBA which costs more than $208,000. The Gabelli tuition includes coursework, academic materials such as books and case studies, meals and snacks on class days, overnight accommodations and meals for the three residencies held off-campus, and overnight accommodations and food for the international capstone trip. It does not include airfare for the international capstone trip.
While the program tends to draw the typical New York crowd of accountants, consultants and people in finance, Fordham has made inroads in attracting students from a broad range of industries, including pharma, healthcare, utilities, nonprofits, transportation, and the military. “We are getting veterans who are coming from afar because they can come to New York one weekend a month and then they go back to where they are,” says Petit.
The 22-month-long program is delivered in a single three-day weekend per month, with students attending class from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. That schedule requires students to take off from work just one day a month. Also sprinkled throughout the program are the three residencies held on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday at a conference center in Westchester, usually in Tarrytown or at the Doral Arrowwood Resort in Rye Brook, N.Y. At each of those residencies, students do immersions in specific courses.
As you’d expect, the program is heavy on required essentials with a core curriculum of ten courses that range from Business Policy to Transnational Management and Systems Operations. Then, you’ll have a series of four so-called “concentration courses in management sciences” that include Managing Innovation and Change and Personal Leadership Development.
After all those required courses, you’ll have room for just two electives chosen from a limited menu of five courses: Contemporary Ethical Issues in Business; Global Finance; International Communication Negotiations; International Field Study, and International Trade and Development. Throughout the program’s courses, the school puts an emphasis on experience-based, team-oriented projects.
In the past five years, Fordham has added a couple of innovative global elective options for EMBA students that require a trip abroad. One involves a trip to Galway, Ireland, during that city’s International Art Festival in July. Another is called Jesuit History & Leadership Culture and requires students to retrace the steps in Spain taken by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Over five days, students trek 20 kilometers per day in silence by foot and then gather for evening class sessions in what is essentially a leadership development exercise.
Each cohort also designs its own international capstone week abroad, with an in-depth, consulting-style business project and in-country lectures on the nation’s economy and business climate. Fordham actually lets EMBA students decide which country they’ll visit and study. Recent trips have been to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Johannesburg, South Africa, Bejing China, and Istanbul, Turkey. The global immersions also include some touristy downtime. When a cohort went to China to work with Ogilvy Public Relations on a project, for example, they also got to visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall.
The school says its students average 11 years of work experience, enter at an average age of 33, and boast incoming salaries of $120,000 a year on average. Candidates are required to have a minimum of seven years of work history. Applications for the Lincoln Center cohort that begins in August are due by no later than May 31st, while applications for the Westchester cohort that begins in January are due by Oct. 25th.
And when it comes to career outcomes, Petit notes that more and more EMBA students now pay their own way, hoping to use the MBA for a career transition. Unlike some programs, Fordham does not outsource career coaching. “We have a few older graduates who aren’t doing it for the money but because they want to do it and meet with the students as often as they like,” explains Petit. “So there is a real personal feel to that professional development that we do.”