Executive MBA Online – March 2015
Velle Kolde, Director, Online Executive MBA Program
Dave Cohen, Alumni Online Executive MBA Program, U.S. Air Force Veteran and
Manager, Creative Costuming & Entertainment Operational Development Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Jason Techeira, Enrollment Advisor
Travis Edwards, Enrollment Advisor
Learn more about WSU’s Executive MBA online degree program, including what it’s like to learn online, how an EMBA can help you reach your career goals, and how and when to apply. Topics included:
- Washington State University Carson College of Business
- The Executive MBA Online Program
- Accreditation and Recognition
- The online student experience
- Interactive Q&A
Moderator: I want to introduce myself. My name is Monica Chowaniec and I’ll be your moderator for today. We’re going to go ahead, and the first order of business in case you haven’t heard my announcements yet. This presentation is broadcast only in order to minimize background noise, so everyone is on mute, but if you have any questions, please feel free to type them in the chat box to the right of your screen and one of us will answer your question at the end of the presentation.
Next, I’d like to go ahead and introduce our speakers. First we have Velle Kolde, Director of the Online Executive MBA Program. Also joining us today is Dave Cohen, an alumni for the Online Executive MBA Program, a US Air Force Veteran and current manager at Walt Disney parks under creative costuming and entertainment operational development. Also with us today, we have two enrollment advisors for the Online EMBA program, we have Jason Techeira and Travis Edwards. So at this time I’m going to go ahead and hand the presentation over to Velle. Velle did you want to go ahead and speak to the history of Washington State University?
Velle Kolde: I would be delighted. Okay, Washington State University is located in Pullman, Washington, but we do have satellite campuses in the tri-cities, Vancouver, Spokane, and actually the Vancouver campus is featured in the recent film of Fifty Shades of Gray, I don’t if that’s a good thing or bad thing. But the actress, or the leading lady in that movie, is a student from Washington State University Vancouver; kind of hilarious.
So we are a land-grant institution. Just for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the land-grant act, the Morrill Act, that founded the land-grant universities was signed in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln. And the real purpose behind establishing land-grant universities was to make higher education affordable and available to more people because at that time the only people who really went to colleges were the very affluent and they studied a very limited scope of topics. The land-grant university program and the Morrill Act was designed to correct that by making higher education available to virtually anyone.
We were actually formed in 1890, in Pullman, Washington, and our graduate school of business has been operating since 1957. So we’re probably 55 years of doing graduate business education, and our history in online and distance learning is pretty extensive. We actually were doing distance learning well before the internet, and as soon as the internet came on board we were immediately offering degreed programs as early as 19 – you know, the early 1990s we were giving online degree programs.
So we have a lot of experience in the online environment teaching online. In the last – and I would say we’re actually at 25 years now. We’ve learned a lot and we’ve really perfected our online programs to really represent the state of the art. It’s much more complicated than just taking a brick and mortar class and then videoing some lectures and putting it up there; it’s far more involved than that. We’re going to touch on some of the things that we’ve done and how we’ve adapted our program for the online environment.
We’re also connected to a whole number of corporate clients and academic alliances throughout the world. In fact, just two weeks ago I went to _______, Switzerland to judge in a business plan competition, and then flew on to the Nelson Mandela Institute of African Institute of Science and Technology to judge in their business plan competition. Winning teams from those two competitions are going to come to Pullman in April to compete against teams from the US and China in our Global Business Plan Competition.
Just a little bit about our accreditation recognition. We are AACSB accredited. Whatever business program you’re looking at – if you’re looking at other schools, and I’m sure you are, I would recommend highly you look for one that’s AACSB accredited. There are a couple other accreditation bodies, but the AACSB is the gold standard, and I know that there are so many major corporations that really only recognize business degrees if they come from an AACSB accredited school. We’re also ranked by US News and World Report as one of the top online graduate MBA programs. We’re also ranked as one of the best online graduate programs for veterans, and we’ll talk more about that as well, and we’re recognized as a military-friendly school.
So let’s talk a little bit about our specific online executive MBA program. When people ask me what – tell me about your program in just a few words, I would just say that our focus is on quality, relevance, and convenience. So by quality, I mean we’re a tier-one school, we’re fully accredited, and we’re actually fully accredited at the undergraduate, graduate, and PhD levels by the AACSB. We’ve got world class faculty in curriculum. Although the lead instructor will be teaching the whole section, all the students in the cohort – each cohort is divided – or for each course you’re divided into sections, which have no more than 20 students in them, and there’s a section instructor dedicated to that – to each section.
One of the really big benefits with the program is the exceptional classmates that you’re going to have. You’ll be meeting a lot of other successful mid-career professionals from various industries and various disciplines, and they bring a breadth of perspectives and insights to the program. You’ll also develop friendships that you will have for the rest of your life. It’s an online program but the cohorts tend to be extremely tight and closely knit, and they do communicate with each other quite a bit. And they do build really close, tight relationships.
Prior to coming to this position here – I’ve been here two and half years, I was in the tech industry for 30 years – and using digital communications was just the way that we worked. I worked for the automotive group at Microsoft was my last position before coming here, and my customers were the major auto makers. So they were in Sole, Tokyo, Munich, Detroit, Turin, Italy.
So those were the places my customers were. And, yes, we’d get together face-to-face once in a while, but we did 95 percent of our communication, if not more, via video conferences, teleconferences, email and other forms of digital communication. That was both on the business and the marketing side as well as on the engineering side.
So the online environment is the way a lot of business does get done today, and anyone who that would suggest its quality of experience is somehow less as a result of that, really hasn’t experienced it. Further, there’s actually studies that show online learning is more effective than the traditional classroom settings.
Some other things, convenience – we are designed for working professionals and we’re also designed for adult learners because people coming into this program, they’ve got a lot of experience, they’ve got a lot of – they usually have full-time jobs, they usually have families.
So we designed the program with a lot of flexibility in it. We kind of chunked the work up into weekly chunks so you can plan out when during the week you’re going to get your ______ hours in that you need for your school, you know, to get the school work done, but you have the flexibility to do it. We had one guy, he was an R&D guy from Boeing. He likes to wake up early in the morning and study for two hours before he went to work. Other people study in the evening after they put their kids to bed. Other people cram it all in the weekend; they do a big marathon, but you have the flexibility to do that.
Also, any live sessions and lecturers, they’re all recorded. So if you have some kind of professional or personal obligation and you can’t make one of the online lectures, then you can always watch it at any time. It’s also a benefit, too, if you just want to refresh on a topic is to go back and watch the lecture again.
Then of course we’ve got an online learning management system. We’re actually just moving to a brand new one now. So the one that we had – we’re currently using – by the time you get in the program, we’ll be on a brand new state of the art online learning management system.
Then in terms of relevance, one of the reasons that I’m here is that I do have 30 years of executive experience in the tech industry, and so my expertise compliments the expertise from the faculty, the PhDs and academicians. So we have a kind of blend of what are referred to as academically qualified professors and professionally qualified professors, such as myself, to give you a good balance and perspective; the best of both worlds.
Then for support, you have enrollment advisors that are going to walk you through the entire application process. We have student services available to you when you’re in the program. The faculty, which includes the professors and the section instructors, are available to you as well as there’s 24/7 technical support. We even have a virtual online campus called _______ and we have an online student government. So that’s for basically – a student government for all the online students and all the online programs.
So a little bit about the program itself, it is multi-disciplinary. We’re kind of giving you the CEO-type perspective. Unlike our standard MBA program where we have specialties in international business and finance and marketing, at the executive level for the executive MBA student we have no specialties because when you reach that senior level in an organization you have to be well versed in all disciplines and how they interrelate with each other.
We do encourage you to bring your work to class with you, bring the problems and challenges that you’re facing at your work today to class so you can discuss them with your peers and your professors, especially if it’s in the context of the course that you’re taking at that time. That’s one way to really get a lot out of the – and get the most out of the program. And then you’ll also not just be learning from the faculty, but as I mentioned, you’ll learn as much from your peers in the program as you will from the faculty. We also have a strong alumni network and a strong alumni engagement activities and programs.
There are executive learning goals there, so that’s kind of a foundation of our program. So being able to formulate actionable business strategy, conduct data driven analysis, apply appropriate theories and frameworks to different business situations because that’s something that’s very common when you read about business.
People will always write articles or write books and they’ll say, this is the way Google did it and therefore this is the great way to do it. And kind of the problem with that is that your company might not be Google. Your company may be – your situation, your circumstances might be dramatically different and what works for Google today or what worked for Google when they were a startup might not work for you. And then we also had to take a very well-rounded approach, a societal approach to viewing business and so we look at ethical and global and sustainable and societal impacts of doing business as an organization.
Okay, some key facts and figures on the program. So it’s ten core courses, two electives, you take three capstone courses, so it’s a total of 44 credit hours. We do have an international field study trip. This year we’re going to China and Vietnam and that happens in June of every year. If you did start the program this May, you would be eligible to go on that trip if you wish. It will be June 24th through July 5th and will start in Beijing and then onto Shanghai. We’ll be visiting businesses and doing visiting cultural events and then we move on down to Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon.
Usually you’ll only be taking one course at a time, and the course are five weeks in duration so you can focus on just one course. So when you’re taking the marketing course, all you’re worried about is a marketing course. It’s five weeks, it’s pretty intensive but then you move onto the next course.
During your second half of the program, so the final nine months, you’ll also start working on your capstone project. Your capstone project is – you will identify a business idea, you’ll do a complete and thorough feasibility study on it, and then you will write a complete and comprehensive business plan on it. That serves as your final examination in this course.
Based on what we know, this is a much more relevant measure of your command of the material than the conventional ways of evaluating a master’s degree, which would be either a very comprehensive examination or writing a thesis. I mean, writing a thesis would be great if you were planning to go on to get a PhD and have a career in academia, but it’s not as relevant if you’re going back into the business world and you’re going to manage a business and lead a business.
As I mentioned before, there’s no concentrations, and the length of the program is 18 months. So from when you start to when you finish, typically 18 months.
So about admissions requirements, we say work experience ten years, management experience seven years. You can go plus or minus on that. Right now the people in the core average about 15 to 20 years work experience. We’ve got some outliers on each end, and they’ve got about 15 years with management experience.
The GMAT is not required because you have enough work experience – if you meet those requirements above, you have enough work experience to get a GMAT waver. So if you didn’t have that experience, then you’d have to take the GMAT, but then, of course, you wouldn’t be qualified for this program. You’d probably more appropriately be put in the online MBA program rather than the Executive MBA program.
Undergraduate GPA 3.0, three letters of recommendation, and we do an intake three times a year, once in January, once in May, and once in August. So our next session will be starting – or our next intake will be on May 11th, and if you are shooting for that date or that term, your applications and all your paperwork should all be in by April 13th.
Well the cost – now here’s where the real benefit of being a land-grant university is. Our mission statement is about providing high quality, affordable education. So, therefore, we don’t charge as much as a lot of other people do for an Executive MBA because making a profit or making lots of money is not part of our mission. So we are very affordable compared to a lot of other Executive MBA programs and, yet we are also a world-class, very high quality, rated in the top 20, and fully accredited by AACSB. You’ll never have to justify the quality of your degree to anyone.
Then there’s some books and fees and other miscellaneous expenses. If you do want to do the field study trip to China, that’s probably about another $8,000 _____. The program fee for that is about – this year is going to be about $5,200, plus airfare to get to China and then get back from Vietnam to wherever your home is. So $8,000 is a round number; it’s probably a little bit on the high side.
Okay, we’ve got a great military program. We actually have, for those of you in the military, we have a military affairs advisor who knows these programs extraordinarily well and can walk you through the entire – and help you identify what benefits you qualify for, how much is going to be covered. Also, the student that we have with us, actually the alumni who’s graduated from the program, Dave Cohen, was a career officer in the Air Force and now is retired from the Air Force and works at Walt Disney. He can also talk about the support for veterans that we have.
And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Dave. I encourage you to ask him any questions that you might have about this program because he went through it as a student, as you will or as you are contemplating. I’m giving you the professor’s and the administrator’s perspective, but Dave here can give you a peer perspective on the program that we have here. So with that I’m going to turn the control back over to Monica and you can take it from there.
Dave Cohen: Very good, thanks, Velle. I appreciate it. So real quick I’ll introduce myself. I’m Dave Cohen. Retired this past summer from the Air Force after 26 years, retired as an 06. I’ll give you a little of my story because it kind of tells you why I went through the program at WSU and the MBA program, and why I sort of made some of those decisions.
I got about two years out from my retirement, so it was probably around 2011-2012, and started trying to figure out, all right, what was life going to look like on the other side because a military career doesn’t last forever. So I needed to kind of figure out what that was.
I’d always had this interest in theme parks and cruise lines and entertainment stuff, which many say is a little odd for a military guy that used to fly airplanes. But there’s a lot of similarities among those activities. You’re moving things, there’s logistics involved and so really, for me, it made a lot of logical sense. But I couldn’t exactly figure out how to kind of break into there.
Then as I was beginning to understand what the industry had as far as leadership, I started to look at some of the senior managers and executives in various companies, Disney, Universal, many of the cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, et cetera. And found out that many of them had either law degrees and there was no way, in spite of what my mother always wished, I was going to law school. Or they had MBAs.
I had an aero space engineering bachelor’s degree and a master’s in industrial engineering. So technically I had some pretty good skills. And while I understood business somewhat, I didn’t really have a good handle on exactly how it functioned, the decisions that go into business discussions, and those kind of things that you want to start to include financial resources and returns on investment and what do long-term strategies look like. We do that in the military but it’s a very different perspective because many times you do it in spite of the cost because the effect of the impact you’re trying to achieve outweighs that, in spite of what Congress would like to tell us sometimes.
But nevertheless, that’s where I started to at an MBA program. I started to gravitate towards WSU for a couple reasons. First of all, the program was about 18 months, and as I mentioned, I started to identify where I was at about two years out. So the timing from my very systematic planning brain was going to work out particularly well because I was going to finish the program, it was at about the time to start throwing resumes out and start doing some serious job hunting, and so the speed that the program moved really appealed to how I was planning the next couple of years.
WSU is a state university and state universities for those who are planning on using or contemplating using the GI Bill, or part of the GI Bill, state universities are paid by the Veteran’s Administration the full amount of the tuition. However, if you go to a private university there is a cap. At the time it was $7,000 a year. I can’t remember what it is, it changes every year. But nevertheless, it doesn’t usually cover the full amount. So quite honestly, Velle talked about the quality and the financial value of the education, and for me that really was a driver.
The other piece was having the VA coordinator there at WSU. I can’t tell you how much better that made the program. If anybody’s ever had an opportunity to work with the VA, you understand that it is the very definition of bureaucracy. If you’ve not had the opportunity, think about going to the DMV and make it about five times worse, and that is how dealing with the Veteran’s Administration is. They’re well-intentioned civil servants and God bless them, however, the system is bulky.
I didn’t mess with any of that because the coordinator at WSU took care of all of those things for us. It really made it almost seamless. I think at one point I had to submit something to the VA just to prove that I was who I was, but other than that, the VA coordinator took care of it. So all the tuition payments were made directly to WSU, I never touched it. Book payments that I was due came to me. It was slick.
And then the executive level version of this program really appealed to me and, quite honestly, I didn’t appreciate it until I was in the program as to how important that was because not only was the program designed to be for executives, you end up learning so much from your fellow classmates, and I’ll touch on that in a second. But where we were all sort of in a similar level, we’d had leadership positions, we’d made those executive decisions, we’d done forecasting analysis, in whatever career field we were, that really was beneficial.
I will tell you that going back to school at my age was a little nerve wracking and, quite honestly, a bit disconcerting, especially the distance learning piece. I don’t want to use old dog, new trick, but there was a little bit of that and a little bit of apprehension. I will tell you that when I got my industrial engineering master’s degree it was distance learning, and back then distance learning was they would send from the main campus the VHS cassette tapes.
So we’ve come a long way, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was going to be able to get through the program okay as far as the technology, and I’ve got to tell you, after about week two, I had absolutely no trepidation at all. The current system of the learning management system that is being used was very user-friendly and from everything I’ve heard, the new one that’s coming is even more so. So if I can do this, anybody can. So, please, whatever you’re thinking, don’t let any apprehension or concern about using an online program and those tools that are associated with it, don’t let that influence your decision.
As far as things about homework and those kind of deals, there is time. There is more than enough time to get the program done. You just have to manage your time. If you’re here and you’re interested, that means you probably have had the opportunity in your life to manage your own time, whether it’s your family or whether it’s your work or all of the above. So that’s all this is. It’s another time management piece that you just have to incorporate.
It’s about 15 to 20 hours of work a week. Some weeks it’s less, some weeks it’s more. When we start to get to the second half of the program, as Velle mentioned, where you’re doing your capstone simultaneously with the regular course work, it does become a little more. I would lie to you if I told you that there weren’t some nights that I was up until after midnight trying to knock stuff out. Nobody’s handing you this degree on a silver platter. You do have to work for it, and, again, if you’ve been – if you’re here listening to this, then you’ve already worked to make some success out of yourself. So what I’m telling you is probably not anything you wouldn’t already know. But that said, 15 to 20 is about right.
The only other thing I would suggest is if you in fact do have a family; please make sure you get buy-in from them. That’s probably important because there will inevitably be a missed soccer game, or you’ll have to do carpool a little different, or your spouse may not have you at the dinner table at some time. I will tell you that what goes around, comes around because that’s exactly what I did, and about the time I was finishing up my program, my wife decided that she needed to get her doctorate degree, and so she now is in a online doctorate program. And where I now have some time, she is busy. So just understand that it does go both ways.
As far as the faculty, I mentioned earlier that there is fantastic faculty. Most of the professors are not only from academia, but they have some background in the real world. Velle gave you his credentials and he is very representative of the faculty. The other kind of cool thing is that the section instructors, who will have those sections of anywhere between 15 to 20 students, most of them are adjunct, and they, as we speak, are working in the real world. So they bring a lot of experience, regardless of where it is, to the table.
So the faculty and that instruction is great. However, I will tell you that the thing that I got the most out of, and this includes every book and lecture and seminar, the most learning I got was from my fellow students because we came from so many diverse backgrounds. We had medical doctors, we had computer specialists, we had a culinary chef, we had folks that worked for the Salvation Army. It was a cornucopia, if you will, of varied backgrounds and for every one of those backgrounds came a unique perspective and a unique story.
As a quick example, my military background, we started talking about the international world and doing business internationally and looking at countries like, say China. Well, from my background, China is a potential adversary. For many of my fellow students, China was a trade partner. So to have that conversation for me was tremendous and to understand their perspective really added and made the program for me.
The other piece of that is that those connections that you will make with your fellow students, as well as the faculty, will stay with you to this day and it’s been, I don’t know, 14 months since I left the program. I am still in contact with many of my classmates. Especially if you go through capstone together, it’s sort of a baptism under fire and brotherhood and blood kind of thing. I still am in contact.
In fact, it was October, one of my section instructors was in fact down here in the Orlando area and we went out and had lunch. And strange as it may seem, I went through 18 months of the program and talking to many of my classmates, I’d never met anybody from the program face-to-face. Because of the timing I’d started at Disney about the same time that the graduation ceremony occurred up at Pullman. So I never even had an opportunity to go meet anybody. So this was the first time that I did with the section instructor, and it sort of struck me as funny that I really developed these relationships through this program without ever having looked anybody in the eye. And there’s probably some metaphor and some lesson in human interaction in the current age of the internet about that. But the point being that you can still do all those things, in fact, maybe at some level even better, in an online program than you would at a brick and mortar institution.
The value of the program for me was – I can’t tell you how valuable it was. My capstone project was to build a business plan for a mobile application for guests to use in a Disney theme park. Now this was well before I had been offered a job with Disney or accepted it, but I knew that’s really where I wanted to land. And I had this idea as a guest going through the park, hey, what if we did this, that and the other? And so I started to build this business plan.
Well, the one thing it did and it was sort of a secondary effect, but it turned out to be pretty important was, I learned how Disney did business. I learned how the theme park industry thought. I learned about how they measure things, how they measure success, per capita spending, that in fact, it’s not theme park admission that drives revenue in theme parks, it’s food and beverage and merchandise sales, and then for Disney it’s also the hotels and the resorts that they can get guests to stay in. I would never have known that had I not done this particular capstone project and then gotten help from the faculty and the feedback from the fellow students that I did.
I won’t be so bold as to say that’s why I got the job. I would like to think that getting hired at Disney was based on my experience and my track record in the rest of my professional career. But I will tell you that it was, at a minimum, a tie breaker but I think it was that one piece that stood out when I said here’s my MBA, and, oh, by the way, here’s the capstone project with my business plan for my MBA, and I moved that across the table in the interview to my now boss. He thumbed through it. I seriously doubt that he read it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was he now understood that I wasn’t just some Air Force guy who had been flying airplanes and wanted to go on a whim, go work for Disney. That I had actually done some serious research and that I understood the program. And I think for me that was the benefit.
Everybody has their own reason for wanting to do it, but having that Washington State University MBA diploma hanging on your wall definitely means something, and it was very significant for me. So with that, I will turn it back to Velle and Monica and I’m available for any questions.
Moderator: Thank you, Dave, we’re just going to run through a couple more slides, and then we’ll go ahead and answer some questions. Thank you to everyone who’s typed your question into the chat box. Please continue to send them. Like I said, we just have one or two more slides and then we’ll turn the focus to you and your questions. Velle, did you want to cover the slides?
Velle Kolde: Sure, and we touched on this a little bit, but these are questions that we most frequently get asked about the program. So how much interaction do you have with the faculty, and the answer back kind of is as much as you want. But typically, you’ll have two sessions of one hour each per week for each class that you’re in. They usually will happen Monday through Fridays at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time or later.
Then, as I mentioned before, all these sessions are recorded so if for whatever reason you aren’t able to make that session, you can watch it at your convenience. But also more than a few times we’ve had students actually log into those sessions while they’re flying in an airplane across the country. So there are ways to do it; the wonders of our technology.
The time commitment, you should be thinking about 15 to 20 hours per week and I would say plus or minus. That kind of depends on your familiarity with the subject matter. If you are a wiz with numbers and you won’t probably have much of a problem with the accounting and the quantitative methods classes, then you might be spending a little bit less time than that on them. However, if numbers are not your thing, you might be spending more time on those classes and maybe a little bit less time of some of the other classes. That sort of depends on you.
The international trip, we’re going to go to China and Vietnam this year. It’s a mix of visiting businesses over there. We’re going to visit Boeing, Porsche, Nike, as well as some Chinese businesses, a Chinese law firm, a university over there. We’ll also do a lot of historical and cultural events. So we’ll go to Tiananmen Square, we’ll go to the Great Wall, we’ll go to the Forbidden City. We’ll do those types of things as well.
I already talked about our capstone final examination process. It’s fully developing a business idea from coming up with the initial idea to doing a feasibility study and defining and identifying and discovering the correct business model for that idea because the reason a lot of good ideas fail in the market place, it’s not because the idea was bad. It’s because they developed the wrong business model for that idea.
It’s actually kind of surprising that as many of them fail as they do. Depending on where you read, nine of out ten new products fail, some say 19 out of 20 fail, but with what’s known about those processes for identifying and discovering the correct business model, it really, really shouldn’t be that high. Then, of course, we’ve got the website where you can learn more about it. But also please start asking questions now.
There was one about the age and so 35, not at all. I think the oldest person currently in the cohort is 58 years old right now. He’s the director of R&D for guidance and navigation systems at Boeing, and I’m not sure who the youngest is, possibly someone in the low 30s. Our average age is about 40 years old of people in the program.
Moderator: Thanks, Velle, for answering my question. And thank you, David. I saw you jumped in as well. I’ll go ahead and go to the next question. The next question I have is regarding the capstone. Does this capstone business plan allow us to present our strategy or is it similar to presenting a master’s thesis?
Velle Kolde: No, it’s a business plan. It’s designed – oh, let me think about this. When I did my master’s degree I actually wrote a thesis, and I probably spent about as much – no – I’m not sure if I fully understand the context of the question. So if they want to clarify it I’m going to try and be responsive to the question.
Usually with a thesis you take one subject and then you dive deep into it. In the business plan you actually need to develop a strategy for a product and a business and a multi-disciplinary, integrated strategy. So, you have to understand all aspects of business from operations and manufacturing to marketing to target markets to service to distribution channels. So it’s complete and comprehensive. It’s like you’re showing your understanding of all the working parts and being able to bring them together into a cohesive and successful strategy. Is that responsive to the question?
Moderator: Thank you, Velle, I think it was but if it wasn’t, if that audience member could go ahead and type in a clarification. For now I’ll go ahead and move onto the next question.
Dave Cohen: Monica, can I just add real quick? The other plus on the capstone that probably makes it different from simply turning in a paper is that throughout the course of the capstone itself, especially as you get toward the end, not only are you on paper producing bits and pieces of your business plan, you are presenting it. Through the modern technology you actually put together three minute elevator pitches, and at the end, in fact, your paper goes forward but really one of the biggest focuses is a presentation that you will do and record.
So it is not just do this on paper as if you were building a business plan or trying to find venture capital money, et cetera, you’re actually presenting. That almost makes it – I don’t know, for me it was almost a little more real and it forces you to kind of think on another level. It’s one thing to type up a paper and hit submit, it’s another to stare that camera in the eye while you’re sitting at your desk and try to sell somebody on your idea.
Moderator: Okay, and the audience member’s clarification was, yes, when he did his thesis, he researched ________ leadership. So he was under the assumption that business plans – that for the business plan you are researching businesses and developing a strategy from there. So that I do believe that we’ve answered it. So, thank you so much. I’ll go ahead and move on to the next question we have here. Velle, you might want to take this one. If you do not get your undergraduate degree in business, what impact does that have on someone’s acceptance?
Velle Kolde: Very little. Because we’re a university there are some requirements about having an undergraduate degree and there are some people that we have in this three point grade point average minimum, but we can on a case by case basis make exceptions. But as a practical matter, as I mentioned, I was in the tech industry for 30 years. After people were out of school, for I had completed the undergrad, they’re two or three years out of school, I never cared what they were doing, what they got their degree in or what their GPA was as an undergrad, and especially anybody who’s been out working for seven or ten or 15 years. That isn’t even part of the conversation because it’s really what have they been able to accomplish in their professional career and what kind of results have they obtained there and what do they have to show for it, how they’ve made an impact.
So your undergrad, what it’s in is not important. I think as Dave Cohen mentioned, we’ve got a lot of medical doctors here, we’ve got a lot of engineers, we’ve got a lot of – all kinds of people. Most of them, I would say, do not have business undergrad degrees. We have some that do but most of them don’t.
Moderator: Okay, thank you. Velle, I think this next one is best suited to you as well. Someone wanted to clarify the difference between the online MBA program and our online Executive MBA program.
Velle Kolde: Okay, I’ll try and make a comparison there. The online MBA program is for somebody with probably like zero to five years business experience. So these are people that are not that far out of college, they want to learn more about business. It’s a little bit more technically focused on the technical skills of business.
The Executive MBA is for the person that is a mid-career, successful professional. So they’re already a department head, a director or GM or VP, possibly even a CxO. So they’ve already established themselves as an expert in whatever discipline, maybe they’re managing an IT department or something like that. But now they want to understand the entirety of business and really understand leadership and innovation and strategy. So that’s what the Executive MBA is targeted at.
I mean, we still cover all the technical skills that are covered in the MBA, but it’s more about how to – it’s not just about being able to execute those technical skills. It’s about how they all fit together and it’s about managing teams with those technical skills. That’s more – that’s the focus of the Executive MBA program.
Moderator: Okay, thank you. The next question, I guess, would be for you as well, Velle, since you’ve gone on the international field study trip. Would it be possible for a family member or spouse to come on the trip if the additional fees were paid?
Velle Kolde: Typically not.
Moderator: Okay. Thank you, Velle. There was one online member who sent a private note to Jason. I just wanted to acknowledge that Jason will be following up with you offline as requested. So thank you for your questions. Also, this next question, maybe to just give a different voice, I’ll point to you, Dave. Are there exams for individual classes or could you tell our audience a little bit more about the exam experience?
Dave Cohen: Sure, and that really sort of depends on the class. Some of the math based or I remember statistics in the finance classes specifically had exams. Some of the other courses, there’s not an exam per se, but there will be some sort of comprehensive paper. It’s a little different environment; obviously, when you’re sitting at home potentially hundreds or thousands of miles away from where anybody would proctor you. But clearly step one is there’s an expectation of professionalism and honesty. So that goes without saying.
But the way it’s approached, you – I remember on the finance exam, the system is setup so as soon as you open it up you had whatever it was – four hours, six hours to complete it, and you just kind of went through it that way. So it’s probably not significantly different from any other testing environment you’ve been in. The only difference is that usually there’s leniency time-wise. So say he’s got a final exam in the course, you may have three days to complete it or a week or whatever it turns out to be, or it will be open Sunday through Tuesday. So that’s how those would work.
I also want to say, and I’m trying to remember some of the individual courses, those were almost the exception rather than the rule. I want to say it was probably 70 percent of the finals, if you will. The final grades were based more on papers than they were a specific test; hope that helps.
Moderator: Velle, is there anything you wanted to add to what Dave said about exams or any tips?
Velle Kolde: No, I think Dave covered it pretty well. ______ personally in the courses that I teach, the innovation course and the capstone course, we don’t actually have any exams. It’s all done based on your coursework because I’m looking at it kind of through the lens of my tech industry experience. I don’t really need you to memorize a bunch of facts and thermos if you can look them up, Google them, in three minutes and get those things put together. So I’m more interested in how you can put together – like in the innovation course, you take a product idea and you are – or some type of implementation of an innovation project, and then wide out your plan for implementing it. So I consider that a much more relevant test of your understanding of the material. So there are some – like they said some of the classes do more conventional tests, but we’re really focused on doing things that are of practical value and are extremely relevant.
Moderator: Thank you, Velle. This next question is for you, Dave. An audience member was curious if you had problems with a subject, did you get a tutor or can you get a tutor? Do you know from experience?
Dave Cohen: So statistics and the finance class were not my friends. I didn’t specifically have a tutor, and this sort of goes to one of the questions that somebody asked here. The professors are very good about getting back to you. More specifically, the section instructors are very good because for all intents and purposes, they’re the ones you’re going to have that one-on-one interaction with primarily. I didn’t – it was maybe 48 hours until I heard back from somebody at the most. Many of them are working professionals as well, so they couldn’t necessarily drop what they were doing. But if there was an issue, if there was a question, at a minimum they would at least get back and say, hey, I’m out of town or I’m busy but can I call you tonight? What’s a good number, and we’d walk through it.
Again, I specifically remember the stats and the finances classes – that was a little extra work on my part, but the section instructors were great. I guess I would ask, Velle, because I’m not sure. I assume the university has additional resources if you need them, but I didn’t and I wasn’t struggling, but it took a little extra work. To be honest, I don’t even know if any of my classmates ever used a tutor. In fact, quite honestly, I do remember a few of the classes to include – specifically, the finance class – we had a couple CPAs and so they basically did tutoring sessions for us on the weekends as we approached tests or assignments or whatever it was. So it was almost sort of a self-tutoring kind of thing.
Velle Kolde: Yeah, and it’s just – I don’t know, but you would get help from the faculty and the section instructors, and you’ll also get a lot of help from the other students in the program. So pretty much just what Dave was saying. We don’t have a formal tutoring program because we haven’t had a need to have one. And, gosh, if we did then there’d probably be something wrong with the design of our program. But, yeah, you’ll get a lot of support both from the instructors and from your peers in the cohort.
Moderator: Okay, and thank you, Velle and Dave. And the next question is along those lines. If an online student were to call a professor, would the professors call back and are they required to reach a student before disregarding the call? I guess it goes along with the support question.
Male Speaker1: Typically the section instructors or the main instructors will get back to you within 24 hours.
Moderator: Even _______ I think would –
Velle Kolde: You know, everybody in the program has my cell phone number. They can call me any time they want whether it’s about one of the classes I’m teaching or just about anything in the program. I don’t know if any of you – those of you who are in the tech industry understand the “If I’m awake, I’m working philosophy.” But that’s where I come from. So, yeah, we’re very reachable.
Moderator: Okay, I think that’s what the audience member was trying to confirm. We have another question. An audience member wanted to confirm that the classes are five weeks in duration. Did they hear that correctly?
Velle Kolde: Yes, the core classes are five weeks in duration. The two capstones classes, which you will take concurrently with the five week classes, they are 15 weeks each. So basically over the last 30 weeks of the program you’ll be working on your business idea and business plan.
Moderator: Okay, thank you, Velle. I wanted to let our audience know we’re almost at the top of the hour, so we have time for just two more questions. If your question isn’t answered by the end of this presentation, we’ll have an enrollment advisor reach out to you. But we’ll have two more questions answered and we appreciate you joining us tonight. Velle, the next question is for you. For the June international trip mentioned, if students are starting May 11th, are they qualified or eligible to go on this year’s trip?
Velle Kolde: Yes, absolutely, and I think the way it’s set up – the short answer is yes. If you are thinking about that, do give me a heads up early because you do need a visa for China and there are some things that we need to put in place. But, yes, you can do that. And by the way, that’s got to be one of the most fun courses you’ll ever take in your life.
Moderator: Okay, great, thank you, Velle. And the last question is for Dave. I believe it was spun off of something he said. How well are WC grads received outside of Washington?
Dave Cohen: Yeah, I’ve not had anybody look at me or look at my degree and kind of turn their nose up. WSU as a university as whole I think is well respected, people certainly know the name. There’s never been any question or doubt about the degree. It hangs proudly on the wall of my office and it never came up about can you confirm that it’s been accredited. I mean, people know WSU by its reputation and the degrees that come out of the institution are respected.
Moderator: Great. Thank you, Dave, and Velle or Dave is there anything else you want to add? We are at the top of the hour, but is there any closing statements that you’d like to say?
Velle Kolde: No, just other than if you have any more questions yet, please get a hold of your enrollment advisor, and they’ll be able to address any questions you have. If you want to talk with me directly about the program or something, the enrollment advisor can make that happen for you as well.
Dave Cohen: And just the same for me, Monica. If anybody has any questions, certainly you can get to Monica, or the enrollment advisor, or you can find me on LinkedIn as well if you’d just as soon go direct, and that would be fine. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.
Moderator: Okay and everyone will have my contact information by the end of the week because I will be sending a recording of this presentation and copy of the slides. So if there’s anything that I can help with or connect you with anyone, do not hesitate to just simply respond to the email of me sending the recording. I want to thank you all for spending an hour with us tonight, and we look forward to working with you soon. Have a great night.
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