MBA programs for older financial professionals

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MIT’s new executive MBA program, a 20-month part-time journey that caters to mid-career executives and meets on weekends, is designed to help students apply at work on Monday what they learned on Friday. Students have an average of 17 years of work experience and range in age from 30 to 54.

In this program, which graduated its first class earlier this month, students handle tasks best suited for mid-career executives. One class requires them to identify a process or initiative within their organizations and to launch change. In the capstone course, a global organization course, students work closely with a multi-national corporation and provide advice on a key issue.

Growing needs of older and mid-career students

Sloan is just one of several top MBA programs that is modifying or adapting its curriculum to fit the growing needs of older or mid-career students. As people work longer and the marketplace becomes more competitive, many business schools are tweaking their programs to better fit the needs of this population and to make them more competitive and more relevant at work.

“This is a group that very much wants theory and practice,” says Jonathan Lehrich, program director of MIT’s executive MBA program and a lecturer in the Sloan School of Business.

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which offers the executive MBA in London, Chicago and Singapore, officials have adjusted the program in recent years to better suit the changing needs of students.

An entrepreneurial focus

“On the curriculum side, we have had more of an entrepreneurial focus because more and more students are coming into the program with aspirations to start their own business,” says Patricia Keegan, associate dean of the North America executive MBA program at the Booth school. “One of the [other] things we’ve done is to have the ability to let students concentrate in specific areas. Other options include finance and marketing strategy.”

Keegan says that since many students enter the program, which costs approximately $154,000, with the expectation of making connections, they make sure that they meet many highly placed people.

“One of the programs we run is called executive in residence,” she says. “We bring in senior executive alumni. They meet with three or four students at a time and talk to them about career options. That’s in response to students saying they want to meet with senior level alumni.  We do a number of these during their 21 months in the program. And we do this on all three campuses.”

More online classes

At UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, the three MBA programs share a common curriculum. But in designing both the part-time and the executive MBA programs, school officials have tried to be sensitive to the needs of students in the workforce, who are generally older.

For instance, in the fall, the school will launch a new option for its fully employed MBA program. This option allows students to take as many as 40 percent of their classes online or through some other distance-learning platform. Officials of the Anderson school say they want to make UCLA accessible to a broad range of professionals, including corporate executives and military servicemen and women.

The part-time program, which attracts students from as far away as Mexico City and Dallas, is attracting high-earning professionals, including doctors and lawyers, says Dylan Stafford, director of the part-time MBA program.

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