Find out if the Washington State University Executive MBA Online is for you. This session covers:
- An overview of WSU and the Carson College of Business
- An in-depth look of the Executive MBA Online program
- Military and veteran benefits
- Admission requirements and support available to students
- The international field study, EMBA Leadership Conference, and other networking opportunities
- A firsthand experience from an Executive MBA Online graduate
- Mitch Swanger, Director of Admissions and Student Services
- Matt Beer, Military and Veteran Affairs Manager
- Aaron Wheeler, Executive MBA Online Graduate
- Jake Moscinski, Enrollment Advisor
Originally presented on June 2, 2021.
Jake: Hello, everybody, and welcome to The Executive MBA Online Information Session. We are hosting this for our upcoming fall start date for the Executive MBA. Really just want to share some good information about the program, give you guys a solid understanding of what we’re offering and see if it could be a good fit for anybody who’s able to attend this.
Jake: Before we really get into the nuts and bolts of the presentation, I just want to cover some logistics. In order to minimize background noise, we did set this into broadcast-only mode. What that means is you guys can all hear us. We’ve got a few different speakers on the line. However, we can’t hear your audio, so if you do have any questions, you have that Q&A feature. It should be on the right bottom of your screen. Go ahead and ask any questions or add any comments in there and we’ll be able to see those and actually bring them up later on in the conversation. Then, finally, there is a recording of this session that’s going to be emailed to you after the webinar, so if you have to hop off early or you want to watch this again or share with anybody, you’re welcome to watch that recording after the session is over.
Jake: I do want to cover just the agenda of the session, give you a bit of an understanding of what to expect. We’re going to start off with some introductions here so you know who is speaking and sort of where we’re coming from. From there, we’re going to dive into the history, the rankings, and the accreditations of Washington State University as well as our Carson College of Business and, of course, the Executive MBA. From there, we do have our Military Coordinator on, so we will be talking about some of the Military and Veteran Student benefits that we have. Then, we’ll move into just a nice general overview of the program so you know what the sort of structure looks like and the flexibility. We’ll talk about the admissions requirements and the curriculum. Then, we’re also really lucky to have a student speaker on the line as well, so we will talk about a day in the life of what it looks like to be an Executive MBA student, how people are able to balance this alongside work.
Jake: From there, we do have a pretty cool opportunity. We have an international field study in the program. It’s an optional opportunity for students, but we want to give you a clear picture on that opportunity and talk through sort of what that looks like, as well as some of our other networking events. One of the highlights will be The Executive MBA Leadership Conference that we’ll dive deep in to, as well as additional networking events. We’ll wrap up with that live Q&A session that I mentioned earlier, so again, any questions that you have, please don’t hesitate to chat those in the Q&A feature.
Jake: Let’s start off with some of the introductions. You can see me there at the top left. My name is Jake Moscinski. I am an Enrollment Advisor here for the Online MBA and the Online Executive MBA. Really, my job and my team’s job is to help students as they research the program, and then if it did seem like a fit, we’re also here to guide students through the admissions process and really help craft the best application possible. We also have Mitch Swanger on the line. Mitch, can you take a second and introduce yourself?
Mitch: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Jake, and thanks everybody for joining today. My name is Mitch Swanger and I’m the Director of Admissions and Student Services for the Carson College of Business Grad and Online Programs. I’ve been with WSU for just a little over 10 years now.
Jake: Awesome. Thank you so much, Mitch. Really happy to have you on the line and get some of your feedback on the different elements of the program. Matt, can you tell us a little about yourself and the support that you provide for our military students?
Matt: Sure. It’s great to have everybody here today. I appreciate you taking time out to learn about the program. Jake said, Matt here. I’m a Retired Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force and I work with our military-affiliated students here as they go through the MBA Program and I’ll be talking a little bit more about that later.
Jake: Thank you very much, Matt. Excited to have you on the line as well. Then, last but certainly not least, we have Aaron Wheeler on the line. Aaron, can you take a second to introduce yourself?
Aaron: Yes, thanks so much, Jake, and good morning, everyone, or good afternoon wherever you’re at. My name’s Aaron Wheeler. I’m a recent graduate of the EMBA program, December 2020, and I am the Information Technology Director at the Suquamish Tribe, which is located on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State.
Jake: Excellent. Thank you so much, Aaron. We’re excited to bring you in later on in the presentation on that day in the life slide as well as, of course, our Q&A section, but I do want to take this time to just talk a little bit about the history of Washington State University. Mitch, pretty sure you’ve been here the longest out of all of us. Can you tell us sort of a little bit about Washington State?
Mitch: Yeah, absolutely. I think you’re right, Jake, but yeah, Washington State University was founded in 1890 in Pullman, Washington. For those who aren’t familiar with Pullman exactly, we’re located on the eastern side of the state right on the Idaho border, so if you’re familiar with where Seattle is, we’re about a four-and-a-half-hour drive or so from Seattle and about an hour, hour and a half south of Spokane. WSU is Washington State’s land-grant institution, so what that means is the University was founded on the mission of providing affordable education to anybody who was willing and able to pursue it.
Mitch: When it was founded, the University started as an agricultural school and it’s grown into what it is today. If you’re familiar with Pullman and where WSU’s main campus sits, you know that it’s just completely surrounded by wheat fields, and so it definitely made sense that its origin started as an agricultural school.
Mitch: We do have over 125 years of alumni legacy and currently have one of the biggest alumni associations anywhere in the world you go. If you’re wearing something WSU-affiliated, I guess a t-shirt or hat or something, you are likely to have somebody screaming, “You go, Cougs,” wherever they’re at. It’s pretty amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it with any other institution. It’s almost cult-like, actually, but it’s pretty cool.
Mitch: We have over 60 years of graduate business education and over 20 years of online degree programs. Our Executive MBA as it is today began in the spring of 2011 with the goal to work around the busy working professional, and we’ll get into more of what that actually looks like later on in this presentation, but it is designed for people who are busy with jobs and/or family. Then, we do have an international network of corporate and academic alliances which allows our students more corporate and learning opportunities. If you go on our international study trip, you’ll be able to see some of those opportunities and I’ll also be speaking about that trip later on, so…
Jake: Excellent. Thank you so much, Mitch. I think the points that really jump out to me on this screen and what really filters into our Online Executive MBA is that 20-plus years of perfecting online degrees, we’ve come a long way and constantly changing and constantly making it more flexible. Then, also, of course, that international network of corporate and academic alliances definitely feeds into the curriculum and that optional international field study that we’ll dive into in a bit.
Jake: At this point, I’m going to talk a little bit about accreditations and rankings of The Carson College of Business and the Executive MBA Program. I think this is really a great starting point for your research as you’re looking at schools. Accreditation, I think, is a great way to evaluate sort of the academic respect that an institution and a program has. Whereas, rankings, I think, is a really good way to get some of that brand recognition evaluation. How much weight is this name going to hold as I’m applying for new jobs and seeking out new opportunities?
Jake: Starting with accreditation, it’s really two main accreditations that you want to be looking for. One is going to be programmatic, that’s that AACSB, and the other one is going to be the university as a whole. You want to see it being regionally accredited. Starting with the programmatic accreditation, Washington State does have, and The Carson College of Business specifically, is among less than 2% of business schools in the world that are accredited at all levels, so the Bachelor’s level, the Master’s level, and the Doctoral level by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an international body that ranks or accredits different business programs. Really, it’s thought of as the gold standard, sort of the top-tier accrediting body for business programs. I’d say any school you look at, try to find that AACSB accreditation because that’s going to hold the most weight and really make sure that the program is as strong as possible.
Jake: Then, from there like I mentioned earlier, that regional accreditation is the other thing that you want to be seeking out. There’s really two main accreditations for a university level. You’ve got either regional or national. Regional is typically the one that is most sought after, where national isn’t usually ideal in my experience. We’re accredited. Since we’re in the Pacific Northwest, we’re accredited by The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, so we do hold sort of those two main accreditations that you want to see, regional plus AACSB.
Jake: Moving to the bottom side of the screen, you are going to see the variety of different rankings that our Executive MBA has. You can see U.S. News & World Report, excellent resource that ranks anything from cars to schools to programs, they’ve ranked us at number 20 for Best Online MBA Programs for 2021. We’ve consistently been in that top 20 for what I’ve experienced over the past three to four years, so certainly have maintained a high ranking there. Additionally, there’s another great resource to the right of that. That’s Poets & Quants, so they are a very good academic ranking body. They currently have us at number 12 for 2021 for The Best Online MBA Programs, so those are two pretty big ones.
Jake: We also have a specific one to the Executive Program from CEO Magazine. They have us currently at number 42 for Global Executive MBAs, and that was for 2020. Then, specific to our military students, we do have a pretty big military population. We’re ranked number 13 for Best Online MBAs For Veterans by U.S. News & World Report. You can see we have both that accreditation that you want to be seeking out as well as the brand recognition through a variety of rankings. We don’t typically chase rankings, but it is great to see some of that recognition there.
Jake: Now, Matt, can you go ahead and just tell us a little bit more about your role and some of the benefits and support we have for military and veteran students?
Matt: Sure, absolutely. As I introduced myself before, I’m a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and it’s been my pleasure to be here at The Carson College of Business working on programs and policies for our military-affiliated students, and by that I mean anybody who’s on active duty, our retirees, folks who have separated and including their spouses as well. They usually make up actually about 15% of our MBA cohort, which is great. They bring a lot of leadership and experience to those groups and they definitely get a lot out of learning from their cohort as well.
Matt: The three areas we really focus on are experience, community, and professional development. The experience is to reduce the cognitive load for those students as they’re going through so they can focus on school and not on whether they’re deploying or whatever, how to get their benefits. The second part is the professional development. It’s putting some of those pieces in place that they may not have experienced while they were on active duty. A lot of that’s at LinkedIn. It’s the resume, it’s the networking, it’s the doing interviews and things like that.
Matt: Then, the last piece and one that’s probably relevant for everyone is just the community and networking. As Mitch mentioned before, the recruiter network is a little ridiculous, and so we layer on top of that the veteran network, and I think that really creates a powerful opportunity for our military-affiliate students to kind of give their career a shot in the arm, whether they’ve been out of the service for some time or whether they’re still in it getting ready to make that transition. That’s a quick overview. If that’s you or you know anybody who would like to learn more about that, please have them reach out to an enrollment advisor or even myself. I’m more than happy to talk anytime about what we do here for our students, so thanks for the opportunity, Jake.
Jake: Awesome. Thank you, Matt. It’s been awesome to have you a part of the program/ You’ve built out a lot of great opportunities for our military students to really further that mission, whether it’s climbing within the military, setting yourself up for a transition, or just being a veteran and wanting to tap into that community. We appreciate everything that you’ve been doing.
Jake: Now, I am going to just give you a nice overview of the program. Here’s some frequent questions and topics that I typically talk about with students. Starting off, it is a hundred percent online program so there’s no mandatory travel for the Executive MBA. Any travel opportunity will be optional for you, so you can complete it really from wherever. It’s also a pretty quick program. You can see we can complete the Executive MBA in as few as 16 months, so a little under a year and a half from the day you start till the day you finish. Really start applying the program and the curriculum that you’ve learned to your career.
Jake: We’ve also designed it to be flexible. That’s one core pillar of the design that we’ve chosen here, so we’ve made it fully asynchronous for all of the mandatory sort of requirements. There’s no mandatory times you need to be logging in, just as there’s no mandatory times that you need to be traveling. Anything that is live will have that recorded element to it that you could watch at a later date. We have those live sessions each week.
Jake: That’s also a huge thing that I want to highlight as we want the engagement. We want our students to be connecting with our professors and, arguably more important, with the other classmates where we have an awesome network here. Those live sessions that you’re going to have each week are an element to that, but if you can’t attend it, you have something going on, you’re working late, you have family requirements, of course, those are going to be recorded for you to watch on your own time.
Jake: Those are two of the main elements that I think really feed into that design for working professionals. We want this to be able to be balanced alongside career and alongside family. We also have world-class faculty and curriculum, so really we’re trying to stay cutting edge with the classes that we’re teaching here. We want this to be relevant in the sort of modern era. Big emphasis on technology and innovation within the Executive MBA and it’s taught by excellent professors. The vast majority of them have PhDs. If they don’t, they have a ton of industry experience, often paired with like a Master’s degree, so really good people to be learning from and really good connections to be made.
Jake: We do end the program, or one of our final requirements is going to be a Capstone Project, so most graduate programs will have a final deliverable. Sometimes it’s a big thesis paper, other times it’s a large comprehensive exam. We opted for a project where you’re actually going to be developing a business plan from start to finish as we think that’s the best way to really apply the material and also have you to have a clear takeaway, something that you can be applying to your careers to future opportunities moving forward. We’ll definitely be touching on that a bit deeper down the line.
Jake: We have an International Coach Federation for professional coaching sessions. That’s a fairly new development in my experience where really helping students take some practical outcomes from the program and applying them to their career to grow. We have that optional international field study that we are going to have a slide on later on. Really cool opportunity, a fun and exciting one.
Jake: Then, we do have an optional Executive Leadership Conference. It’s something we’ve specifically built out for Executive students and a cool networking opportunity that, again, we’ll speak about further in depth down the presentation. Here’s some highlights for the program. Some of this will be just reiterating some of the main points, really reinforcing those. We got 16 months for the length of the program, so it’s quick, under a year and a half. It’s a hundred percent online, no travel, no residency required. Optional field study and Leadership Conference.
Jake: One thing that wasn’t on the last slide, we do like to keep our class sizes small here for the Executive MBA, so currently we’re about 20 students per course. That way, you’re getting the immediate answers you need from your professors and the support that you need from, but you’re also able to connect pretty intimately with your classmates, really getting to know the people in your courses alongside you and working together on various assignments and projects.
Jake: One thing that I think is incredibly beneficial is this next bullet point, that core structure. We have 15 courses and they are five-week courses, so essentially what we did is we made it a one-class-at-a-time program with the exception at the end, you’re going to have that Capstone Project alongside your regular course. What this structure does is it allows you to really just focus on the one topic at a time. You know exactly where to spend your efforts and you’re not doing that sort of classic school juggle when you’re already trying to balance it alongside work and family potentially. I do think that’s a huge benefit to our students to maintain flexibility.
Jake: At the bottom here, you are going to see the tuition, so it’s $1,296 per credit hour. That’s not including the cost of books. You’re going to have a total of 42 credits in the program, so that’s an overall tuition of $54,432 there. Those, again, are just some of the main highlights that I like to point out to students. I also, though, being an enrollment advisor, I like to talk about the admissions requirements. I want to give you a clear expectation of what’s needed to put together a comprehensive and competitive application.
Jake: To start, you’re going to have an online application, so you complete that and there’s a section that you’ll be signing. Within that application, we’re going to get a few different documents. We’re going to get official transcripts from all schools that you’ve attended. We are going to have a current resume. A resume is certainly an important document for Executive MBAs that we want to see that leadership and management experience that you have. We’re also going to get one letter of recommendation. Ideally, I’d say try to be getting this from a manager or a supervisor. Essentially, you’re just putting their contact info in the application and we’ll send them out the required material and instructions. After that letter of rec, you do have a statement of purpose essay that you’re going to write. Fairly simple essay. You’re basically just covering your background as far as your work and your school experience. You’re covering your goals of what you’re trying to do in your career, and then you’re connecting those two dots of, “Why am I good fit for the program given the background that I have?”, and, “Why is the program a good fit for me given the path that I’m on?”
Jake: From there, we also have an organizational chart just for showing sort of where you are at within the hierarchy of your organization. If you’re at a large company like Amazon or Microsoft, we don’t need the entire company’s org chat. We just need sort of your specific department or section of the business. Then, we wrap the application with a brief interview. That would be with an enrollment advisor like myself just asking a few different questions there. Next, under the documents bullet point, you see that experience bullet point. For the Executive MBA, we are seeking students who have five or more years of management experience, so we want to see students where if they have a significant amount of leadership and they’re on a path to some of those higher levels of leadership that our curriculum is really targeting. That’ll be where you’re communicating that through your resume primarily.
Jake: From there, we also have a GPA requirement. Ideally, we’re looking for a 3.0 or higher on that 4.0 GPA scale. If you’re below that, that does not mean you’re not qualified. We do make exceptions to the rule typically each semester, so if you’re under that 3.0, don’t sort of write this program off. Definitely reach out to an advisor and we can talk through sort of what opportunities you might have.
Jake: Then, another important element is the GMAT exam. GMAT waivers are available for qualified applicants. I’d say a significant portion of the Executive MBA applicants that I work with are getting the GMAT waivers. In our next slide, we’ll dive a little bit deeper into them, but if you needed to take the exam, students are typically submitting around a 550 or better, and that number really is based on a few different factors. If you’re planning to take the exam, you want to know what score you should be shooting for individually, that’s really what my job is to here to help with, so reach out to the enrollment advisors. Speaking of the GMAT, let’s dive a little bit deeper into the different waiver options. This is a good way to see sort of what the application would look like for you. Starting at the top, one of our GMAT waiver opportunities is for students who have previously earned a graduate or a professional degree. Maybe you have a Master’s of Science, you can be using that as evidence to be waiving the GMAT exam. Maybe you have a Juris Doctorate, we have a lot of JDs that will come into the program, so that can, again, be evidence that you don’t need the GMAT test.
Jake: Probably more commonly used GMAT waiver option is the second one. That’s for students who have five years or more of progressive work experience paired with that 3.0 GPA or higher. That’s a very common one. We’ll do a deep dive into your resume to be making that decision. The third GMAT waiver option, another pretty frequently used one is for students who have a STEM degree, so that’s science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, alongside that 3.0 GPA or higher. That can also be a very common one in my experience with students to be requesting waivers with.
Jake: The fourth one that we have is for students who have business degrees from other AACSB-accredited institutions with a 3.0 GPA or higher. If you don’t know if your school is AACSB, you can do a quick search. There’s an AACSB website that lists out all of the members. Additionally, if you like to offload that research onto me, I’m happy to check if your school is AACSB as well.
Jake: Then, the final option is for students who are under that 3.0 GPA, so if you have 10 years or more of progressive work experience paired with a 2.79 GPA or higher, we can use that, again, as evidence for students to waive the GMAT exam.
Jake: Those are the main opportunities. Enrollment advisors are here to talk through those more in depth and give you a clear picture of if you fit into one of these buckets, but at this point, I don want to move a little bit more to the student support side. I want to give you an understanding of the layers of support that we’ve built out here.
Jake: Starting day one, really starting now, you have access to enrollment advisors. We are here to guide you through the admissions process. We’re here to answer questions you have about the program, address any concerns you might have if you think there’s something that could get in the way of being a successful student. As soon as you’re admitted into the program, as you’re about to start, we’re going to hand you off to our student support advisors. For the Executive MBA, currently we have our Lead Student Support Advisor, Megan Steinbeiss. She’s the advisor for all of the MBA students and she is awesome. Really, her role is to guide students through the entirety of the program, so she’ll help you navigate any situation that comes your way. She’ll help you with your schedule, help you with registration, really offload a lot of the administrative side of things to her plate.
Jake: Then, being that we’re an online program, we do have a pretty thorough technical support, so every individual application you might use has a technical support line and team that can help out with that. Then, Washington State University as a whole, we have an awesome tech support team. It’s called The Crimson Service Desk. They are able to help as well with a lot of these applications and technical support requests.
Jake: Like I mentioned earlier, another part of the support that we have is smaller class sizes. That allows our professors to be much more hands-on with assistance and teaching more thoroughly, and it also allows you to connect with your classmates better. Then, we have section instructors where we break up the larger classes into smaller sections where now you have your lead professor, sort of the mastermind behind the curriculum, but you have a section instructor who’s an expert on that curriculum and they’re able to assist with individual homework questions, assignment questions, and get you on the right path there. As you can see, a lot of layers of support. I think that’s a big reason why our awesome candidates are successful in the program. We do see typically about a 90% graduation rate for the Executive MBA.
Jake: This slide is really covering what the sort of course flow looks like as well as what the courses look like online, so let’s start at the top there. This is a sample of our Fall 2021 Session, so this breaks down what those five-week courses look like when they’re spread over a semester. We can see the first third of the semester. Let’s go in from August 23rd through September 26th. Now, you might hop in with our Management of Innovation course, learning to identify innovative strategies, innovative technologies, and then adapt that into your organization strategy.
Jake: Once that class concludes, once your five weeks is up, now you’re moving into your next course. That would be rolling from October 4th through November 7th. Now, you might be focusing on Database Management, looking at that specific technology and how you should be structuring databases within your organization and how that really feeds into the different departments of an organization.
Jake: Then, from there, after that class perhaps up on November 7th, you’re going to quickly transition into your final class of the semester. That would be going from November 8th through December 12th, and that would be Strategy Formulation and Organizational Design, so really looking at the higher level strategic opportunities that you have and how to implement the effective organizational design structures into your company. That’s sort of how the five-week courses flow. As you can see, a very focused effort throughout. That way, you’re not spread thin on different topics. The bottom half of this slide does show what an actual course would look like as a student. You can see this is what we use. This is a program called Canvas. That’s sort of your main portal into the classroom, and this is an example for one of our early classes, BA 599, which is sort of an introduction into the Executive MBA, doing some strategic planning for personal and program success.
Jake: Really, it’s nice. You can see the different weeks. We really break it up in sort of a modular element with the weekly approach, so you’ll have week one of doing my introductions. You’ll click on that tab. You know exactly what to do and your resources are going to be there, so clear navigation there. Now, you move on to week two, week three, week four, so it’s broken down in a pretty clear-cut structure for you guys.
Jake: Now, this is our Day in the Life slide, so I want to bring Aaron in on the conversation. Aaron, are you ready for me to sort of get your feedback on what it looks like to be an Executive MBA student?
Aaron: Yes, absolutely.
Jake: Awesome. Well, let’s start off with class week. We know, as I just mentioned, our classes are broken up on a week-by-week session, so class weeks begin on Monday and they end on Sunday. It’s really up to you guys to be divvying out your work throughout that week to complete your deadlines by Sunday. Aaron, tell me, what was your standard approach? How were you tackling course work? Were you doing it every day? Were you mainly doing it on the weekends? Tell me about that.
Aaron: The majority of my time I would do weekend work. It’s just when I had the ability to really kind of focus in on writing any larger papers or working on any of the spreadsheets for like the finance class that really had some like major detail, but I tried to put in at least an hour or two every day during the work week. Getting into like basically making sure I get home or from work I like to attend the live sessions, but if not, I would watch a class later on, take notes, kind of get information from the rest of my classmates on what happened. Then, especially on any of the reading-heavy classes or a few classes that do have either some supplemental or required reading, I’d try to really focus on getting that done during the week.
Aaron: Then, unless I had homework that was due during that time, I would really kind of push through that on the weekends, especially when it came to the Capstone Class, it was really nice to be able to have since everyone that was in my team, we all worked the standard Monday through Friday. Saturdays and Sundays, we had it open to really be able to like set a schedule towards like, “Hey.” For a while we were always meeting 2 PM on a Saturday to make sure we could jump online, talk where we were at in our different sections, and be able to really get that ready for Sunday evening to be submitted.
Jake: Love it. Yeah, and that’s really what I’ve seen from most students, the sort of standard breakdown that seems to work really well is doing more of the reading and the learning from Monday to Friday during the weekdays where you can spend an hour or two a night, and then applying that through your assignments over the weekend, so those main deadlines.
Jake: Now, you touched on live sessions a little bit, so as we can see, live sessions are typically in the window of Monday to Thursday sometime between 6 PM to 9 PM Pacific. Try to make them after working hours, try to make it convenient for people to attend, and usually about an hour-long session. Aaron, did you say you attended most of those? Did you watch mostly recordings? Was it some sort of hybrid between the two? Bring me up to speed there.
Aaron: It was pretty much a hybrid between the two. It kind of depended upon what was going on in life and work and everything else, but for the most part I tried to attend in person. It was really nice to be able to… We have through the Canvas, or during my class we also had the older Blackboard platform that we used, it was really nice to be able to have chat area to be able to discuss with my other students, to be able to get live question and answer with a professor on top of just all of the good material that was being presented. I would get just as much information from watching the video, but it was really nice to be able to be there to just kind of have that collaboration with other students at the same time.
Jake: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s really what we hope for. If it fits into your schedule, that collaboration is huge. I’d say the live sessions are your most sort of frequent and common way of collaborating with classmates, so that’s awesome to see. You sort of took advantage of both sides of attending live when you could, getting to know your classmates, getting to ask questions, but also using that flexibility when it fit better, so that is excellent. That’s exactly why we put it in place there.
Jake: Tell me what you think about this. Typically, we’re having students right around the 20-hour weekly time commitment for everything from work to reading to attending live sessions. Is that what you saw?
Aaron: Absolutely, yeah. 20 hours was pretty much on the mark. You just kind of find… You get those small an hour here, a couple of hours here during the week, and then weekend you really kind of finish up that good 10- to 15-hour block however you best be able to split that up for your life, which was really one of the reasons why I joined the programs that I could kind of put in the time when I could without having to feel like I just had to be sitting in class on time or I’d really be missing something. That’s [crosstalk 00:32:27] right on the mark [inaudible 00:32:27].
Jake: Awesome. Good to see. I’d say probably in our students’ experience, the Capstone Project is where it can climb a little bit higher than 20 as you’re balancing [crosstalk 00:32:37] that with another course.
Aaron: Yeah. Those last five weeks when you’re basically putting together your final Capstone Project and doing that other class, that definitely adds more time. That’s something I always tell prospective students is come be prepared, that that last run to the finish line does take a little more effort, but it’s well worth it.
Jake: Absolutely. Can you tell me what you did for your Capstone Project? We know it’s building a business plan, so typically coming up with a new opportunity, a new product. Tell me what your guys’ group did for the Capstone.
Aaron: Absolutely. My team, we actually came up with this product called The ULBX, basically this idea of like an automated ultraviolet-C disinfection unit for smaller-to-mid-tier medical facilities. I started in September of 2019, so we basically all of a sudden were in the middle of the pandemic and I was basically almost at the midpoint of my degree. It was at the height of everyone’s like interests and opinions and business ideas, and so this kind of came to fruition. One of my Capstone classmates, she works in a clinic in Pasco, Washington, and talked about how much their time had skyrocketed trying to make sure that the clinic could stay clean with all of the new COVID protocols that had gone into place.
Aaron: We kind of dreamed up… We did a lot of research and asked other professionals about how cleaning was done, even in other nations, and ultraviolet-C, which is a specific wavelength that can basically kill not just viruses, but fungus and bacteria, was something that came to the forefront for us. We kind of come up with this idea about building a unit that’s kind of like a Roomba, something that wouldn’t be a top-tier price level that currently does exist, places like Harborview and large children’s hospitals already have. Something that like more of an urban setting hospital for lower income groups could also be able to purchase and have as a unit.
Jake: That is awesome. It’s been interesting. I’ve talked to a few different recent graduates of the Executive MBA and asked the same question, “What was your Capstone Project?” It’s been really interesting to see the common theme of COVID-19 and sort of how that has impacted businesses and then coming up with solutions like yourself, so that is excellent. Very cool. I appreciate you chiming in there and then sharing your experience.
Jake: Last question that I have for you right now, I’m sure we’ll be looping you back in in the Q&A, but tell me… I want to know two things. What was the most fun course and the most relevant course that you took? Then, after that, I’m going to ask you about sort of which was the most difficult you took. Let’s start with the fun one. Tell me what jumps out to you from the curriculum that you took .
Aaron: The leadership course always comes to the top of mind. I mean, it was one of the reasons I joined the EMBA Program in the first place is basically to hone and enhance my skills as a leader, but it was so different than what I expected it to be. You think about it kind of being something like almost a webinar TED Talk, “Here’s how to be a good leader.” We really focused a lot on both Eastern and Western ideals in fictional media, so one of the main points of reading was Wizard of Oz.
Aaron: We’re like going through and really having kind of a fun/serious discussion on, who is the leader in the entire movie? Who was the leader in the book? What were the differences? How were leadership styles proposed by Shakespeare in, say, Richard III and somewhat fictional representations of real people? That was so much fun. It was so different than I expected it to be. It was a lot of reading, but it was really well worth it.
Jake: That’s awesome. Okay, so you loved the strategic leadership course. What about the most difficult one? What sort of ran you the most time or the most difficulty?
Aaron: I would say probably finance, the finance class definitely took the longest. It’s not my strongest suit. I’m decent at math, but it’s just a different kind of thinking and wrap your head around the idea that like somebody bought stock in a company that then became a failed corporation, well, of course, doing math, there’s no negatives in that case. These people just have zero. Their stocks are now worth nothing. It’s not as if they have to pay back to the bank. Just certain things like that that it just wasn’t necessarily my strongest suit, which is one of the great reasons to have this kind of a networking and class way to build because then as other people who do have strengths in that, we worked together a lot.
Aaron: There was also the Database Management and it was one class that you had shown as part of the fall course. That fits a little bit more IT-type structure, so then I was able to assist some of my other students because that is something that I do on a daily basis as part of it as an IT director. It’s really neat to be able to get that collaboration to utilize each other’s strengths to really learn together.
Jake: Absolutely, and that’s something that’s really interesting about the Executive MBA is just the vast amounts of different industries, different professions represented, and everybody has to sort of work together to put together these awesome assignments, put together a great Capstone leveraging the different skill sets that you have, so that’s cool to see sort of how you were able to tackle that through the network. It’s exactly what we’re hoping to do. Awesome.
Jake: Well, Aaron, again, really appreciate that. You have awesome insight into what it’s like to be a student. We’ll bring you back in on the Q&A section, but at this time, I’m going to pass it off to Mitch. Can you tell us about the international field study and sort of what we’re doing there?
Mitch: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Jake. Typically in normal years, our students have the opportunity to go on an optional international field study. Usually happens in April. Obviously, 2020, we had to cancel it, but in normal years, that’s up and running. The last few field study trips have taken place in China, and so that’s what I’m going to talk specifically about that experience. The trip is typically 10 to 11 days, depending on where you’re traveling from, and the trip’s designed to be a nice mix of company business as well as leisure activities.
Mitch: In years past, some of the multinational companies in China that our students have visited have included businesses like John Deere or Boeing, but then there’s also Chinese companies that are students are able to visit like Alibaba. China’s chosen because it’s one of the largest economies in the world, and so the company business explore what the business environment is like in China, what the business climate is for doing business in China, and then what it’s like to sell into the Chinese market.
Mitch: One of the cool things about the trip is there’s enough leeway, and depending on who’s attending the trip, it sometimes can be somewhat tailored based on the interests of the students. We can’t make any promises, but if you do let a faculty member know in enough time, you can sometimes work on those of accommodations. For example, a couple of years ago we had a few students from Boeing and the aerospace field, so one of the company visits was Boeing’s R&D center in Beijing, but then also as far as the tourist-y stuff goes, some of the tourist and cultural activities include visiting The Forbidden City, The Great Wall. If you’re in Shanghai, you will visit You Garden, so you’ll get a nice appreciation for the history and the culture of China.
Mitch: Again, that is totally optional if it works with your schedule. One other thing I want to say about the international field study, too, is if you are not able to go as a student, we do welcome our alumni the opportunity to attend this trip. Once you’ve graduated and it might be able to work with your schedule, you can get back in contact with us and we can make that happen for you, so you do have the option as an alum.
Jake: Awesome. Thank you so much. Aaron, I know you were planning to go on the recent Chile trip that got canceled with COVID. You think you might think about going down to one of these new ones that come up?
Aaron: Absolutely. I didn’t know that was a thing and that would be fantastic. I would love to join it.
Jake: Excellent. Mitch, I’m going to leave that on you to make sure to follow up with Aaron.
Mitch: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jake: At this point, let’s talk a little bit about The Executive Leadership Conference. Mitch, I know you know a decent amount about this and what we’re really trying to do here as one of those additional networking opportunities.
Mitch: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that we do that’s exclusive for our EMBA group is the EMBA Leadership Conference and, again, in normal years it is something we do face to face. It’s always held in Seattle. Usually held in mid-to-late September because it typically correlates with other WSU activities that are happening that week. This last year was… We ended up doing an exclusively virtual event, but this next year, this September as of right now, we are planning to go back to a face-to-face model with the possibility of maybe doing some hybrid stuff online, but most of the conference will be face to face for anybody who is interested in going.
Mitch: Like I said, it is an exclusive event for the current EMBA students and this is also open to alumni, so once you graduate, if you find the Leadership Conference beneficial and you’re always welcome to come back and attend. We always have a myriad of different speakers and opportunities that take place at this event. It’s usually two full days of sessions where we bring in executive coaches and leaders to talk about their work and conduct workshops.
Mitch: Last year’s event, as you can see here, the 2020 conference concluded the three controversial levels in creating trust, creating greater collaboration between individuals and groups. Empower business leaders with transformational leadership skills to grow their organizations in a sustainable way, and then utilizing LinkedIn to build a personal brand and using it for career advancement. That was 2020 topics.
Mitch: Over the years, like I said, we’ve had a myriad of authors come in, business executives. Just coming to mind for 2019 group, we had some topics including like group stereotypes and biases in the workplace, emotional intelligence and how it’s a differentiator, and then skills and techniques to stand out as a global executive.
Mitch: One of the other cool things that we do as part of this event is we hold what’s called The Dean’s Reception. Typically on the first night of this conference, we’ll hold a reception right after where our Dean and faculty will join and you’ll have the opportunity to network with faculty and our data. It’s a pretty cool event.
Mitch: I know, Aaron, that this last year was virtual, but you did attend this last year virtually. I was hoping you might be able to give a few insights as a student who participated.
Aaron: Yes. It was a fantastic event. IT would have been great to be live, but with situations in the world, it was I was just thankful that it was even still put on and it was still a fantastic time. Really, the networking and especially the last line there, the utilizing LinkedIn to build a personal brand. There was a speech there by LinkedIn’s Andrew Cohen about how you use LinkedIn to really like put yourself out there and show what you want to like give out to official employer or to your current employer to see if you could be eligible for a possible promotion or a different slot within your organization. It really led me to completely rebuild my LinkedIn profile. It’s something different and kind of more now on what my brand is.
Jake: Awesome. Thank you, Mitch, thank you Aaron. I think it’s really a great opportunity for students, a really cool one for the Executive MBA students. Really just trying to differentiate yourself as you’re at that top level of leadership or going towards that top level of leadership as you’re competing with other top performers, so very cool opportunity.
Jake: Real quick before I have Mitch take over the networking slide, I just want to remind anybody, Q&A section, if you have any questions, we’ve got some good ones rolling in. We’ll be touching on that in just a bit, but go ahead and ask any questions you have there. Mitch, building on the other networking opportunities, go ahead and tell us about some of those.
Mitch: Yeah, absolutely. Like we said, most of the times, all of the networking opportunities and the face-to-face activities are completely optional. Even though the program is fully online, we do want to create those opportunities should you want to meet face to face. We have quite a few options for you throughout your program and as well as alums. I’ve already talked about the international field study and the Leadership Conference, so I’m going to move on to the next one.
Mitch: One of the things that we started doing new a couple of years ago were meet and greets, and we held our first one in Seattle where we have students, alums, staff, faculty all get together. We met at a Seattle restaurant and basically that was just to allow students to just mingle with each other. There was no like real set agenda or anything. It was just an opportunity for our students to meet face to face. We were planning on doing our first one in Spokane, Washington, last year, but again, it got canceled. Those will be up and running again as the country starts opening up. One of the things on the meet and greets that we’re looking to do, we will be looking at our heat maps and our student demographics and where they’re located. The goal is to start branching out of the Northwest and hosting some of those meet and greets nationwide. I know that we have a pretty big population throughout California, so we’ve been looking at a few spots in California to do meet and greets. If we’re not quite in your area, keep your eye out because we will be trying to get across the country for those.
Mitch: Another opportunity that the college puts on is called The Power Breakfast. That’s one of the events that always happens in September that we base the EMBA Leadership Conference around. That’s a breakfast that happens typically from like 7:30 to 9 in the morning in Seattle. Again, it’s to students, alumni, staff, faculty, community partners, stakeholders. It’s a pretty cool event where you can have breakfast with everybody, but then there is typically a speaker or a panel that will come in and talk about a specific topic. Actually, for the first time this year, we are still doing our Power Breakfast in September, but new this year will be a virtual Power Breakfast that’s happening June 9th from 7:30 to 9 AM Pacific Standard Time. The topic is actually Unexpected Outcomes: COVID-19 and Business in the Pacific Northwest. It is free to attend, so if you are interested in that, you might ask one of the enrollment advisors about The Virtual Power Breakfast and we can get you information about that. That might be something you’re interested in.
Mitch: Another thing that our students and alums can participate in are The CougsFirst! Shows, and that’s a really cool organization. It’s pretty much everything Coug-owned, managed, affiliated business-wise. It’s kind of like a trade show, it’s set up, but it’s basically an opportunity for business partners and what to network with each other, all Coug-oriented. They’ve done a few of those shows in Seattle as well. They are planning on doing one in Spokane. They were going to do one last year, but again, it got canceled. That’s a cool opportunity for our students to meet with other former Cougs who are now business owners.
Mitch: The Alumni Association does events and watch parties. This is great for things like football viewing parties. The Alumni Association is huge, so if you’re dispersed throughout the country, even the world, you can go onto the Alumni Association page and see. You can see what activities are happening near you, which is really cool. Some of their events you don’t actually have to be a part of the Alumni Association for, so if there’s anything of interest in there, like I said, those football watching parties, that’s a great way to connect on those.
Mitch: One of our favorite events is Commencement and The Carson College Reception. If you haven’t been to WSU’s campus, one of the best times to come is in May for our Commencement. It’s a really pretty time of year. It’s a fun time to celebrate, so if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend visiting WSU’s main campus in Pullman for Commencement. It’s just a really fun opportunity to network and then see our campus if you haven’t.
Mitch: Then, the last opportunity are related to the military student events, and I actually want to kick this over to Matt. He’s done some pretty cool things. Hopefully, he can share on a few of those.
Matt: Thanks, Mitch. Yeah, all of those things that you just covered are fantastic ways for these students to connect with one another, and then we’ve layered on top just a few additional things for our military-affiliated students. One of those is our workshops, so we conduct at least one of those per semester and that’s an opportunity for those folks to connect with one another and usually an alumni or [inaudible 00:51:17] do show up that we invite for that.
Matt: Then, the other one is what we call a Military All Call. We host that typically in the spring. We’ve done one live and one virtual. The virtual one’s great because we had folks that could participate from across the country, and that’s where we invite students, alumni, community partners and academic industry experts and really to explore veterans in the workspace and what their value-add is. It’s a great conversation between members of the military and members of industry to come to a greater understanding, so those have been great experiences and opportunities for these students who may not have a robust civilian corporate network to start growing that while they’re in the program and really growing that. Thanks, Mitch. I appreciate the opportunity.
Mitch: Awesome. Thanks, Matt.
Jake: Awesome. Mitch and Matt, thank you so much for expanding on that. We are about eight minutes now until the end of the hour, so real quick, if you’ve got to hop off early before the Q&A session, if you’re looking to start, we got that August 23rd start date. That’s our fall semester. We’d love to have you join the program. Application deadline is July 26th. I’m going to say the sooner the better you apply. Just gives you a better experience of getting onboarded, so give us a call. We’re happy to help and see if this is the right fit, but like I said, let’s move into that Q&A session. We’ve got a ton of good questions that have been rolling in, so I want to begin answering those and giving those out.
Jake: One of the first ones that popped up is, “What’s the main difference between an Executive MBA and a regular Online MBA?” Sort of the distinguishing factors between the two, so I’m going to briefly answer this, and then I’m going to chime or have Aaron give his perspective as well. Really, when I look at MBAs and Executive MBAs, there’s two main differences. One is going to be curriculum. Regular MBAs tend to be a little more tactical in nature. For the goal for that, at least in our program and in most programs from my research, is to help people move into management.
Jake: If you choose a regular MBA already being a manager, already having a lot of leadership experience, you’re probably going to be covering a lot of material you’ve already seen. On the contrary, Executive MBAs are trying to look at leadership from that very high level, so we’re focusing more on an organization-wide strategy, more on how to differentiate yourself and personally brand yourself within the top tiers of leadership at a company. That’s the sort of curriculum piece. Then, the other maybe obvious piece is the network. Regular MBAs are typically younger students. We’re seeing students right out of undergrad. Usually, I’m seeing students coming in about five years into their career, so when we compare that to the Executive MBA, students have a lot of leadership. They have about five years of leadership. I’d say I usually talk to students who are 15 to 20 years in their career when they’re pursuing an Executive MBA, so that one might be the biggest differentiator just because those conversations are at such a similar level to where you’re at and where you’re going.
Jake: Aaron, I probably touched on some of the elements that you liked out of the program, but tell me, is there any other things from your perspective that made you choose an Executive over a regular MBA?
Aaron: Yeah. You covered basically the majority of it, like the big pieces aren’t that. This was a program that was designed for those of us that have already been in management for about five years-plus and that we’re looking to enhance that. I jumped into the program looking to basically make that move from a department director to a C-suite level, and the EMBA is designed more towards that compared to a standard MBA program.
Jake: Perfect, and yeah, that’s exactly what we’re seeing. Mitch, do you feel like we covered everything? Is there anything you think we left out when we’re [crosstalk 00:55:05] making the comparison between the two?
Mitch: I think you both nailed it. I don’t think I have anything else to add, so good job.
Jake: Wonderful. Very good. Good to see. I think since we touched on network, I see another question in here. Just somebody asking, “How easy is it to connect with classlights, or classmates in an Online MBA program and then an online Executive MBA program?” Aaron, I know you’ve made some great connections. Tell me about sort of what that looks like throughout the program. How were you connecting? Is it easy? Have you developed any long-term relationships with classmates?
Aaron: Yes, and it was something that to be very honest, when I first joined the program it was like, “Well, I want a degree, I want to do well. It’s online. I’m not expecting to really make any like lifelong connections like I did in undergrad.” I was 100% wrong with that. Capstone Group especially, we are extremely close and, unfortunately, the pandemic has kept us from meeting in person yet, but we’re actually planning something out next month to bring all of our families together as we can finally meet each other and just be face to face and say, “Thank you for all of the help that was to learning together.”
Aaron: Then, my LinkedIn… Specifically, like I said, I really focused on what the Leadership Conference had to rebrand, but just with all of the students that I worked with at different projects and just had in class, we all, our entire class of 2020, has been very close. We’ve basically built an impressive business professional network for ourselves that we utilize all of the time. I know who is like, “Oh, I have a new initiative at work. I know somebody that I went to class with that does something very similar. I’m going to reach out and see if they can actually have a contact or if they know how to help.” It’s been just the group for having those small class sizes and having kind of like these small blitzes of classes all of the time really formed a bond with the other students that I didn’t expect and it was really a nice thing to kind of… like a bonus out of everything else that the program provides.
Jake: That’s what I’ve seen across the board. I think when somebody’s considering an Online Executive MBA, the same sort of thought process comes into play where it’s like, “I probably won’t make the best connections, but maybe I’ll get a good network to send a LinkedIn invite,” but then you end up forming these awesome relationships through some of these heavier classes, through some of these group projects, especially that Capstone. That’s awesome to see you had that same experience. I appreciate your insight there.
Jake: Mitch, this is another one, a good one for you. “I’m curious about how long the process is for applying to hearing back.” I can cover the applications process, and then you tell me about the review process of applications. Applications, it’s pretty streamlined, especially if you don’t need that GMAT exam, which a lot of our Executive students get waived, so I’d say applications usually about a week, sometimes two weeks from start to finish. Then, from there, I hand off your application to Mitch and the Admissions Committee. Mitch, how long do you typically take to make a decision?
Mitch: Ideally, we like to have decisions… Once it gets to me for review, I like have decisions within about 72 hours. That can fluctuate, especially during application peak times. As we’re nearing application deadlines, I’ll typically get kind of a flood of last minute applications to be reviewed, and that will take a little bit longer, but ideally once it gets to me, I like it no later than 72 hours.
Jake: Awesome. Thank you very much, Mitch, and yeah, that’s definitely a reason why I encourage people to apply as soon as you’re potentially interested just so you don’t run into that sort of bottleneck that happens when we’re approaching a deadline, so great to see. Aaron, probably have time for one last question. I’m curious how the Executive MBA has impacted students after graduation. You being a recent grad, tell me, what are some clear takeaways you’ve had that you’ve been able to apply to your career, to your life at this point?
Aaron: Well, I was recently appointed to the TribalHub TribalNet Advisory Board. TribalHub is the only Tribal-specific IT group in the nation and the TribalNet Conference, I was appointed to their Government Advisory Board as to help to assist basically from bring my EMBA knowledge and IT knowledge on how we should form the Conference, which we’re actually going to be planning on doing live in November. Then, I was actually able to take a lot of the applications and work with Representative Drew Hansen on behalf of the Tribe for Bill 1336, which is a local broadband utility program to be able to help lower income areas get fiber optic built out by our local [inaudible 00:59:52].
Jake: Awesome. Okay, so using some of the skills you learned within the Executive MBA for that. That’s great to see. Well, everybody, thank you. Mitch, Matt, especially Aaron, thank you so much for coming on and big thank you to everybody who was able to attend this session. We would love to have a further conversation with you guys to see if this is the right program for you. Application deadline July 26th, start date August 23rd. You can see our number and our calendar, actually, if you want to schedule an appointment with an advisor. We are here to help. Actually, well, I’m going to wrap up and say Go Cougs to everybody. Thank you again for attending.
Matt: Go Cougs.
Aaron: Go Cougs.
Jake: Awesome. Thanks, everybody. (silence)