Travel, deadlines, globalization—today’s careers are changing and fewer people are willing to take a break from full-time work to pursue an MBA.
“The nine-to-five working day is no longer the norm,” says Prashant Malaviya, associate dean of Georgetown University McDonough School of Business and designer of the Flex MBA, a revamped part-time MBA program the school is launching in fall 2019.
Leading the charge for flexi-learning, McDonough is tapping into the changing nature of employment by reinventing its part-time MBA Evening Program —which already ranks 11th in the US among other part-time programs by US News & World Report.
The new Flex MBA will provide all the same content as the school’s Full-time MBA and confer the same degree, but teaching will be delivered in more flexible ways.
The Flex MBA will combine face-to-face and online learning, with a selection of ‘hybrid electives’ allowing students to learn virtually, remotely, and on-the-go.
The duration of the program will range from 28 to 60 months depending on what works for each MBA student – with new opportunities to transfer in previous graduate coursework. Evening classes allow students to attend school once their working day in the office is done, or Saturday electives offer an alternative to long days of work and school.
One- and two-week intensive learning experiences also provide opportunities for students to learn on campus and network with peers, without keeping them away from work commitments for long.
Before creating the Flex MBA, McDonough surveyed prospective part-time MBA students and discovered 70% were interested in a more flexible, customizable experience.
For Prashant, flexibility has become a key component of any learning resource. He’s quick to highlight that the core courses, which comprise half of the Flex MBA program, ensure that the community building atmosphere thrives in-keeping with the school’s cohort model.
Adrienne Cohen is a 2018 McDonough MBA graduate and chose the school, in part, due to the fact that students received the same quality of education in the part-time MBA as the full-time program. “On a day-to-day basis, I was able to see direct linkages between what I was learning in class and what I was doing in my job,” she says.
When Adrienne had to travel more frequently for work, making attending evening classes tricky, she was thrilled that Saturday electives ensured that she did not have to sacrifice work or her MBA commitments.
Adrienne is now marketing manager for Western Europe at Microsoft, achieving the role change she wanted from her MBA. “The Saturday elective was a game changer for me,” she beams. “It gave me the best of both worlds.”
Tyler Shymansky has first-hand experience with hybrid electives, being amongst the first cohort to try the pivotal aspect of the Flex MBA.
As an analyst associate in commercial real estate finance, he viewed the MBA as a focal credential for career enhancement—a “door opener”. His role is execution orientated and heavily quantitative so he wanted an MBA that would develop soft skills in negotiation and strategy.
Georgetown McDonough’s reputation—its MBA is ranked in the top 30 globally and 17th among U.S. schools in the 2019 Financial Times MBA Ranking—and the flexibility that they offer were the key reasons he chose the school.
Tyler took the hybrid course Real Estate Private Equity. It required two in-person classroom meetings (the first class and last class), supplemented by online lectures, tutorials, assignments, and quizzes.
“This flexible format more closely resembles today’s working world where schedules are increasingly task-oriented,” he says.
Tyler adds that the hybrid classes replicated a realistic business environment —short meetings and reliance on e-mail communication— which set students up well for real-life application of the MBA skillset.
He benefited from the opportunity to work more efficiently, choosing the time of day he studied and speeding up and slowing down online content to work at his own pace.
“Time is my most important resource, and there never seems to be enough of it,” he says, “so if business schools can cater courses to allow greater flexibility, without sacrificing student engagement, it is a ‘win-win.’