Ron Alsop, the Wall St. Journal reporter on the b-school beat, writes in “M.B.A Programs Take Fast Track” about a number of school shortening their EMBA programs from the standard 21 months to as little as 14 months. For example:
- University of Arizona — 14 months
- Rochester Institute of Technology — 15 months.
- Thunderbird — 16 months.
- University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business — 19 months.
Schools are shrinking their programs by eliminating summer breaks, cutting courses from the curriculum, and adding more online content.
While these programs are clearly responding to student demand, other programs, noticeably Wharton and Columbia, are insisting that they want to maintain the credibility of their degree and brand by providing a full complement of classes and requirements in a traditional 21-24 month program. In the Alsop article, ” MBA-Lite”, a phrase that has dogged EMBA programs in recent years, appears once again.
It was interesting to me that both Dr. Mark Rice, Dean of Babson in discussing Babson’s Fast-Track program (24 months) and Stephen Sacca, Director of MIT’s Sloan Fellows Program, did not want to refer to their programs as EMBA programs because of a perception that the EMBA is not as rigorous as its “regular” cousin. I suspect that a proliferation of shorter programs will only strengthen that perception. In the video interview that accompanies the article, the interviewer touches on this question. To paraphrase Ron Alsop’s response, “time will tell.” The schools introducing the shorter programs insist they have not compromised quality or rigor.