Executive MBA Online – October 2014

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Presenters:

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
Travis Edwards, Enrollment Advisor

Subjects:

  • The Executive MBA Online Program
  • International Trip Opportunities
  • WSU Military Students
  • The Online Student Perspective
  • Interactive Q & A

Transcript

Moderator: Hello, again, everyone. I hope you are doing well today. My name is Monica Chowaniec and I will be your moderator. I’d like to start off by once again thanking all of you for joining us for the WSU online Executive MBA information session tonight.

First off I’d like to just go over the logistics. As I’ve mentioned throughout the last few minutes, and of course in the chat box to the right of your screen, this presentation is in broadcast only mode. We wanted to minimize background noise because we had quite a few attendees today. Anytime throughout the presentation you can type into the chat box, but we will hold questions until the end of the presentation, and then we’ll save time for live Q&A. Please note that today’s webinar is recorded, and a copy of this presentation, along with the slides, will be sent to you tomorrow afternoon.
So right now I’d like to take a moment to introduce our panelists. We have Dave Cohen, who is an alumni of the online Executive MBA program, a US Air Force veteran and currently working as a manager for creative costuming and entertainment and operational development with Walt Disney parks and resorts. And, of course, we have Travis Edwards, lead enrollment advisor for the online EMBA program. And we also have Velle Kolde, the Director of the online MBA program as well. So Velle, I’m going to go ahead and transition to the first slides and go ahead and pass over to you. Welcome.

Velle Kolde: Okay, thank you, Monica. Thank you all for taking time and thank you for interest in our program. So I hope we can answer all your questions tonight. I’m going to go ahead and go through some prepared material, and then David is going to give you some comments as well to give you the perspective of a student who actually has been through the program. Please ask any and all questions that you may have because between Dave and I, we should be able to give you a really good picture of what the program’s like, what kind of effort it requires, and what kind of benefits you can receive from it.

So with that, I’ll just give you a little brief history of Washington State University. We are a state university in the state of Washington. We are a land-grant university founded in 1890. So as a land-grant university, our mission is to provide education – high quality education as broadly as possible to as many people as possible. So that’s one of the reasons why when you actually start looking at some of the aspects of our program you’ll see it’s extremely high quality, but then you’ll go, wow, compared to a lot of other Executive MBA courses, you’re not very expensive and that’s because our mission is to provide affordable, high quality education.

So we’ve been here for 120 years, we’ve had an MBA program since 1957, and we’ve offered online degree programs since the – actually distance learning before we were on the internet in the late ’80s, and then we moved onto the internet in the mid-’90s. So we have a lot of experience doing online distance education. There’s quite a bit more to it than just taking your brick and mortar class that you get on campus and just putting it online and videoing some lectures. I mean, you can do that but you end up with a really crappy student experience, and it’s not something that you would enjoy, and it’s not something that you would get the kind of learning outcomes you’re looking for. We’re also affiliated with a number of corporations and other universities around the world.

Moving on, a few things about our school, we’re nationally rated. One of the key things is that we are AACSB accredited. Now the one thing for any program that you’re considering going in, given that you’re going to be spending good money and a lot of your time and going to put a lot of effort into it, do go to a school that’s AACSB accredited. There are a lot of schools out there that are AACSB accredited, there are a lot of schools that aren’t. If you get your degree from a school that isn’t, some savvy recruiters and hiring managers will want to know why because AACSB is the gold standard. All the top schools are AACSB accredited. So if you’re going to spend the time and money on an Executive MBA, go to an AACSB accredited program. There are actually programs – these automated programs that will view resumes and so on for hiring, and they will automatically kick out people with degrees that are not AACSB accredited. So that’s just one of my tips to you whether you go to Washington State or whether you go to another school. Just look for that AACSB accreditation.

We are ranked as one of the best online graduate business programs by US News and World Report. We’re ranked number seven this year. We’re ranked number three best online graduate program for veterans and we’ve been consistently recognized as one of the best business programs.

Now a little bit about WSU’s online Executive MBA and experience here. When people ask me about it, I really like to sum it up in one sentence. I say it’s about quality, convenience, and relevance. In terms of quality – all right, now I’m getting the slides to go. We’re a tier one school, we’re fully accredited, and also, by the way, we’re one of the cheaper sides of AACSB schools that is accredited at the undergraduate, the graduate, and the PhD level. So we’re actually in a rather exclusive club there.

We have world-class faculty and curriculum. We’re leading researchers and research institution. We have a very small class size and within our courses there will be a lead instructor for the entire course, but the section you will be in will have not more than 20 students in it.
You’ll also be in – you’ll find you’re paired with your peers to be, exceptional people in and of their own right. We get people from a variety of industries and a variety of business disciplines. We get CFOs, CEOs, we have engineers, we have medical doctors, we have career military officers, and everyone brings really good, valuable perspective to the program. There are great discussions about – when we’re talking about a case study perhaps in the aerospace industry and people from the healthcare industry would be looking at it and saying, now how would we apply that to healthcare and what changes would have to be made? So you get really good robust discussion and insights. You’ll learn as much from your classmates as you will from your professors.

Also, sometimes people think it’s an online program and therefore I’m going to be isolated and that’s actually really not the case. You’re actually quite engaged with your cohort, and later Dave will talk more about this, about his experience with it, but the students in the cohorts are really tight and there’s a lot of friendships I’m sure that are made that will be lifelong friendships, as well as great connections in networking.

In terms of convenience, our program – as I mentioned, we’ve been doing online programs for 20 years, so we’ve learned a lot over that time and we’ve continually refined and made our programs better and better. Our programs our designed for full-time working professionals and they’re designed for adult learners. So that’s just a core design criteria for everything that we do here.

So by being completely online we allow you to schedule your time to fit your busy lifestyle. Pretty much everybody in the program has full-time jobs, has families, they have to work out a lot of personal and professional obligations. Some are even taking care of elder parents. In some ways it’s an extraordinarily busy time in their life.

What we have done is we break the workload up into weekly chunks and so you can plan when during the week you’re going to get your work done, but you have control over that. I’ve got one student who’s with Boeing. He likes to get up early in the morning and study for two hours before he goes to work. There’s other people who will study in the evenings after they put their kids to bed. Some people block out the whole weekend for it.

It is a rigorous program and any AACSB accredited program will be because they’re held to very high standards and they’re audited regularly. So you should expect that you’ll be spending 15 to 20 hours a week or more on your class studies.

Like I said, we do make it completely online and we do make it asynchronous. There are live sessions with the lead instructor and with the section instructors. However, if you’re not able to make one due to some professional or family obligation, they’re all recorded, so you can watch the recorded session at your convenience. That’s also kind of a nice thing, too, because even if you were on the live session, the fact that you can go back and replay it – if there’s something that’s a little bit unclear to you or you’re a little bit fuzzy to you and you just want to hear it again, and it’s always available for you to go back and review that session.

Now in terms of relevance, we really focus on taking the theory and the best practices and talk about how they can be applied. So you’re getting the knowledge and how to apply it in a very complete and comprehensive manner. We really want you to bring your work in with you. Bring problems that you have at work or challenges that you have at work, discuss them in class with your classmates, discuss them in the context of the class that you’re in. If it’s a marketing class, you can talk about some of your marketing challenges. In the innovation class you can talk about processes for innovation or how you can streamline – talk about how your company deals with new product development and new product introductions, and then discuss thoughts and ideas on how to improve it or make it more efficient and more effective.

Also, we’re kind of interesting in the sense that we actually sort of have a campus life here. We do have an online campus here, study online. We even have an online student government, if you’re so inclined to get involved with that. But also we give you tremendous support. You get support from your enrollment advisors, you get support from your fellow students. We have technical support and, of course, your faculty and professors are available all the time. In fact, every student in the program has my cell phone number, they can call me any time about any issue that they have or anything that they need. That’s just part of my job. Prior to me coming to the Washington State University, I was in the tech industry for 30 years. So I have that, “If I’m awake, I’m working” mentality. You can take the boy out of tech, but you can’t take the tech out of the boy, I guess.

Okay, a little bit about the program itself. We do not _____ specializations because by definition the executive is a generalist. The executive needs to be competent and well versed in all aspects of the business. There’s no – in some MBA programs, and in fact in our online MBA program, the non-executive program, we have concentrations in finance and marketing and international business and these are available and they’re great if you are in the position of developing your career.

But typically the person entering the Executive MBA program has already achieved success in their career. They are a mid-career professional. They’re now looking for that broad and complete and comprehensive set of business knowledge to move up into the senior executive ranks.

Notice you can also see our Executive MBA learning goals. In addition to just teaching you about business and teaching you about strategy, we really have an emphasis on leadership, on strategy, and on innovation. We also do everything through the context that effects and what implications it may have on the environment, society, and the entire global eco-system.

So here are some just key facts and figures about the course or about the program. There are ten core courses, two electives, and then one capstone course – or actually three capstone courses. The capstone is actually one giant long course, but we’ve broken it up into three sections. So you’re pretty much working on one large project through that entire capstone. And I’ll talk more about the capstone a little bit later.

There is an international field study trip that is available that will be in June. We’ll go to China for ten days and it will be a combination of cultural and business visits because we’ll visit the businesses in China, we’ll visit some government organizations in China, and we’ll visit a law firm to talk about the legal environment of starting or doing business in China. But then we’ll also do a number of cultural events. We’ll go to the Great Wall, we’ll go to the Forbidden City, and really understand how Chinese people think, what their philosophies are, what their value system is, quite a bit about their culture because that’s absolutely essential to doing business in China, and it’s actually essential in any international endeavor to really understand the culture and norms and the philosophies of the society in which you’re going to do business or do business with.

Our courses – we’re set up so you take one five week course at a time. So you’ll only be enrolled in one course. It’ll run for five weeks, it’s pretty intensive. Then when you complete that you’ll move on to the next five week course. So for the first half of your MBA you’ll only have that one course being taken every five weeks. During the second half of your MBA you will also be doing your work on your capstone project. So that will be – you’ll be taking one course plus the capstone sequence of courses.

Our core sequence is a carousel so we have these courses running on an 18 month cycle, and whenever you join the program you just step into the class that’s currently being offered and that’s where you’re going to start the program. So when you take your first class in our program, you’re going to be mixed in with other students that it’ll be their first class, but you’ll also be in with students that have been in the program for six or nine or 12 or 13 months.

The length of our program is 18 months. What we do for a final examination is your capstone project. Now all graduate degrees have some form of final exam. Commonly it takes one of two forms: one, if you write a thesis, and that’s when you pick a subject and you go deep on it and you do really rigorous academic research on it, which is very relevant if you’re going to go on and do a career in academia. A little bit less so if you’re going to go back into the business world and function as an executive in a business. Similarly we could give you a big comprehensive exam, think of something like the CPA exam, but that’s probably – I don’t think that that’s really a valid test of how good your business acumen is.

So what we do is over a 15 week period – actually, two 15 week periods, we will have you come up with a business idea, do a feasibility study on it, do primary market research where you’re actually talking to potential customers and industry experts. You’re interviewing them, gathering insights and information, and then writing a comprehensive business plan on that idea. So that’ll happen over a 30 week period. Then at the end when you turn in the final feasibility study and business plan, as well as a 15 minute video presentation of that plan, you presenting that plan, that is what constitutes your final exam. That shows that you can understand all the different parts of business, and, more importantly, how they integrate together and how they interrelate. How when you touch something over here, it ripples and affects things on the other side of the business.

Two admission requirements: the minimum work experience requirement is ten years, seven of it to be in management. The GMAT test is typically not required because the GMAT is an aptitude test to see whether you can be a successful manager or not. Well, if you’ve been working for at least ten years, and seven years of managerial experience, you’ve probably already demonstrated your aptitude for that.

Undergrad minimum GPA is a 3.0. We ask for a letter of recommendation, we ask for a statement of purpose, resume. We actually ask for a letter from your employer or organization saying that they’re supporting you in this because it will take – like I said, it’s not an insignificant commitment of time. So we should actually probably ask for a letter of support from your spouse, but we don’t do that. Then of course we’d like _____ transcripts, et cetera. Travis and his team will guide you through this entire process. They’ll make it very simple and painless for you.

I will mention that those are the minimums, the ten years and the seven years. On average we probably average people with about double that. We’re probably in any given cohort we’re 15 to 20 years of experience and management experience is anywhere from 12 to 15. So the youngest people in the program, we have a few low to mid-30s. And then at the other end, I think currently the oldest person that we have is the R&D director for navigation and systems at Boeing and he’s 58. But most are probably – fall around late 30s to mid-40s.

Also, I’ll just mention that most MBA programs it’s about 25 percent female, 75 percent male. We’re about 33 percent, 66 percent. So about one-third female, two-thirds male.

Okay, dinero – tuition is $50,000. Books, fees, other expenses – oh, that should probably – yeah, I think it’s going to be more than a thousand. Let me check that number, but, yeah, it’s going to be more than a thousand. Then we have the field study trip and that’ll probably – by the time you pay the airfare and the program fee, it’s probably going to be $7,000 to $8,000 for the China trip if that is something that you’re interested in doing. There are scholarships available and financial aid available and the enrollment advisors can help point you in those directions. Also, when it comes to the military programs and the military aid, which I actually – that’s my next slide, so I will just segue right into it.

At Washington State University we do have a dedicated veterans’ affairs coordinator, so they will work with you. He knows absolutely everything about all the programs that are available to active duty military and veterans, and so they can help guide you through to make sure that you can take advantage of everything that you’re entitled to. They’re very good and very helpful. I’ll let Dave talk about that a little bit later because he was active duty military when he was in the program, and actually was taking the program to prepare himself for the transition to civilian life.

With that I’ll turn it over to Dave to share some of his experience and his attitudes about the program, and then after that we’ll take questions and don’t hold back. Ask us anything you want because we want to make sure you get all the information that you need. With that I’ll turn it over to Dave.

Dave Cohen: Thanks, Velle. I appreciate it. So I’ll – just a quick introduction, Dave Cohen. Up until this past July I was an active duty colonel in the US Air Force. I spent about 26 years doing that. A lot of time flying airplanes, but I have command experience, spent some time in the Pentagon, deployments. I ran an operational flight test organization. So a lot of various things in my background, and I previously earned a master’s of industrial engineering.

As I started about – it was probably about two and a half years ago from now, maybe a little longer, to kind of figure out, all right, there was life on the other side. I needed to start planning for my transition and my family’s. I started to look at things I wanted to do. One of the areas – two of the areas I was very interested in was theme parks and cruise lines. They were clearly not military or defense related, but it was a lot of the same skill sets. And as I started to look at some of those folks who were doing – who were in the executive positions at the organizations I was interested in, I realized that many of them either were lawyers, and going to law school was not on the top of my list, or many of them had MBAs.

So I started to look into that a little more because it dawned on me at some point that I really didn’t understand business. I knew leadership, I knew organizations, I knew how to plan, I knew how to execute, but the business side of things I just didn’t have a good handle on. So I was not only looking to get the diploma to put it on a resume, but I really needed to learn some things about how business operated. So I did a lot of research, and I’m sure many of you have done a lot as well, and you’re still doing it and I encourage you to do as much as you think you need to.

I came across WSU and it intrigued me for a number of reasons. First of all, the program allowed me to get done in about 18 months. At the time I started the program I had two years left until my retirement date. So the 18 month timeline was really perfect for how I needed to kind of plan the last parts of my Air Force career and then my next civilian life.

The program, as Bill mentioned, does take the GI Bill. In fact, because it is a state institution, the GI Bill will cover your entire tuition as well as books, and depending upon your situation, possibly a stipend. That was kind of a big plus. There were a number of private organizations, institutions out there who would gladly take the GI Bill. However, because of the rules the government won’t pay the full tuition, it gets capped. So that was a big plus for me for WSU.

Coupled with that – Velle talked about the VA coordinator. I can certainly talk about it later, but the person in that role, and I believe she’s now moved on to do other things, but there is a VA coordinator there and there was nothing I had to do. Two emails usually took care of an entire year’s worth of activity. So the VA would pay the bills, I’d get my book fee, and I never had to lift a finger, I never had to call the Veterans Administration, it just happened and that was a huge bonus for after the fact, but I was very appreciative of that capability that the EMBA program brought.

Then of course the fact that it’s primarily aimed at executives, for me it was huge. I was interested in learning but I really wanted also to try and start to network because I knew that was really important, and the fact that my fellow classmates were all going to be in very similar situations as I was, really was a major plus for me.

I got to tell you I was a bit nervous about going back to school. I was in my mid-40s at that point and the last time when I had gotten my master’s in industrial engineering, it was a distance learning course, and I won’t tell you when that was but I will tell you that distance learning back then meant they would send us VHS cassette tapes back and forth in the mail. So I was a bit intimidated at first about how the technology was going to work, and I’ve got to tell you I figured it out in about two weeks. Your fellow classmates will get you through it. There is a 24/7 tech support if you absolutely need it. But if I can figure it out, you all can figure it out as well.

The timeframe – the time requirement that Bill sort of stated – 15 to 20 hours a week – is about right. It tends to be more than that toward the end of the program because you’re simultaneously taking your classes as well as the capstone program and so capstone for all intents and purposes will sort of be a second class. I don’t know that it’s necessarily double but there were some weeks when it was triple and there are some weeks when there wasn’t a lot to do. But the average probably was about 15 to 20.

Velle sort of joked you probably want to get a letter of support from your spouse if you have one. I would definitely second that. If you’re not at least having the discussion about how much time this is going to take, you need to. It is not extraordinary but of the same token, you may not be available for absolutely every dinner or make every soccer game. You can adjust your schedule to try and do that but there may need to be some sacrifices in the family – in my case was tremendously understanding. My wife very much agreed to it. So much so that as soon as I finished my program, she decided to go back in and get her doctorate degree. So now we really don’t see each other.

So the professors of the program are very good. I never had one that did not respond to me within about 24 hours if I had a question. Most of them are not from academia. They’ve got a pretty good background in something tangible outside in the real world and they’ve practiced their art for a while.

But I’ve got to tell you, the big learning for me was my classmates; sitting around in a session, talking, texting, and chatting to each other through the system, having discussions afterwards. Many of the classes will have sort of group projects. Those could be challenging especially if those in your group span multiple time zones. At one point I had – I was in a Central Time zone and I had a classmate who was out in the Pacific Northwest and another who was in South Africa. So if you want to think about trying to schedule a common time, that was a little tougher. But the experiences and the perspective that everybody brings for me was completely different.

You know it was funny, Velle talked about China and there was an entire class on opportunities in China and there was an international business class, and so we were always looking at that area in Asia with China as the center to look at opportunities and how is business done and ways to partner with China, et cetera. I always found that interesting because in the military we looked at China, quite honestly, as a potential adversary. They were another super power over there who flexes their military might. So to get that perspective for me was different. I had classmates who literally did business all over the world and that perspective was tremendous and really for me added to the program and really made the program what it was.

The other thing that your classmates do is you really form those bonds. Velle talked about lifelong friendships and well that’s probably a nice bumper sticker, I’ve got to tell you it’s true. I’ve stayed in contact with a number of my classmates through various and sundry means and reasons. In fact I’ve got one who was in the process until I actually got hired by Disney of helping to land another position with his company. It had come open and I sent him a note and we chatted for a while and he told me about it and was moving my resume forward and then other things happened. But it’s those kind of connections that I think are important.

When I got my current role at Disney it wasn’t because I had a WSU MBA, but it was significantly contributory. Not so much that it was just the diploma and the check mark, but that capstone program for me, again, I did mine on a project for Disney parks. It let me learn. It sounds funny maybe from a distance but you’re not just doing a project. I think at the end of the day it was the learning from that project. It was the background that I was ____ on how much I didn’t understand about the industry and how much I could learn about it that was really huge to me. So that for me was a major player.

Again, not necessarily the degree itself, but the work it took to get the degree I thought was huge. So at the end of the day, I found the WSU program to be probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Make no mistake it’s hard work, and there were days where I was slamming pencils into the desk and just not happy about things, but that happens to all of us and then you take a deep breath and then you move forward. It’s a lot of work but I’ve got to tell you the reward on the end, again, more than just that diploma – it’s the bonds, it’s the friendships, it’s the networking, it’s the knowledge that you really gain on how a business operates in the world and how you can think about business. For me that was what really made this program. Velle?

Velle Kolde: Okay, great, thanks. I just put up the FAQs, the frequently asked questions, and I think we’ve covered these already during the course of the presentation. But now I’d love to open it up for any questions that you guys have and whether you want to direct them to Dave or I or both, please do. I’ll start with some that I already see up there.

One is asking if the trip to China is optional or a requirement. It’s an option. If you elect to take the trip to China then you’re going to do the field study course in China. That will be your five week course during one of the summer sessions. Typically it will be in June 2015. If you elect not to do that, you’ll be taking the ethics course. So you either take the ethics course or the international field study to China.

I also see a question – who owns the business plan? You do. It’s your idea. I actually encourage students to work on a project that is relevant and meaningful to them. So like in Dave’s case, he knew that he wanted to work at Disney. So he did his capstone project on a new product idea for Disney, and during the course of that he learned a lot about the company which, as he mentioned, helped him quite a bit, not only securing the job, but really understanding it and being successful once he got there.

So we do have people that pick ideas of new businesses that they want to start that may have nothing to do with their existing job. We have people taking things from their existing job or their existing company and then doing projects around those. For example, one of my students is with a farm equipment manufacturer. They were introducing new technology into – a sophisticated technology that’s commonplace in the US but they’re now – he’s going to do the plan for introducing it to developing countries such as India and China. That’s very relevant to him. It’s actually a real world thing that’s going to happen.

Actually those are the projects that I like to encourage students to take. Take something that you’re really going to do or really mean something to either you or your company and that you’re going to get a lot out of and then also that you’re passionate about because if you’re passionate and interested in it, it’s going to be easier to work on it. It’s going to be easier to put in the effort that you really need to to make it successful whereas if you pick something that you’re not that interested in, it’s going to be a lot of drudgery for you.

This question about expiration of course work. I’m not sure if I understand that. Travis, do you have context with that question?

Travis Edwards: Yeah, I’d be happy to answer that question. So the way the question was – can you speak to the expiration of some course work and how do we go about getting transcripts reviewed and all those things and possibly or potentially transferred over. So what you would want to do is obviously in one of the next slides you’ll see our contact information. You definitely want to give us a call. We’d be happy to share some additional insight, not only of what you heard today, but about the admissions process and how to streamline some of those things.

So when it comes to a transfer credit for the Executive online MBA program, this program doesn’t have an option for you to transfer in any credit because of the timeline of the program, the expensive coursework that you’re going to be doing in the program, and obviously the accrediting bodies that are involved as well. So absolutely, though, if you want to extend more on that question, please do. Type it in or feel free to give us a call as well as the phone number is listed there.

Moderator: And I’ve received some questions privately, so go ahead and read those quick before we go through the next list of questions. Velle, what are some more types of capstone projects? Do you have any more examples?

Velle Kolde: Boy, I’ve got – there’s a lot. There’s people that have done – there’s one with a winery that’s developing and doing the market research and plans for the introduction of sangria as a substitute or a replacement for beer and cider or as an option or alternative, I should say to beer and cider. So that’s something they’re doing.

There’s a company that – there’s a type of metal that when you introduce electric current, it actually changes shape and the student wrote a business plan to use that metal as trim tabs in boats so by putting it on electric current, this piece of metal, it would actually bend and perform the function of the trim tab, and therefore has no moving parts, it’s not going to corrode, it doesn’t need to be lubricated, it doesn’t require any maintenance. That was a pretty interesting one.

We have one person that was heavily involved in athletics develop a business plan for an alternative organization to the NCAA. Apparently the NCAA has a number of challenges and has been sued quite a bit. He designed an organization that would replace it and would not have the issues and problems that the NCAA has today, and he talks specifically why it will not have those problems. So that was a very interesting one.

So we’ve got tons of projects. There are also many people within larger companies will do a new product introduction or a new service of business within that. I mentioned the guy with the John Deere. We’ve also had people with Boeing and Microsoft and others do similar projects.

Moderator: Thank you, Velle. That was a really nice range of projects. So thank you so much. This next question it reads, if we start in January will they be able to take the China trip this June or would they have to wait until next year?

Velle Kolde: No, take it this year. And actually even if you start in May, you can take the China trip in June.

Moderator: Wonderful. This next question is regarding GMAT. Can a GMAT score suffice in lieu of a GPA requirement?

Travis Edwards: I can take that one. So, again, I would highly advise you to give a call to your enrollment advisor if you haven’t spoken to one already. Absolutely call the number that’s on your screen. For the most part that’s more of a case-by-case basis. We definitely take a look at a higher GPA, as seen on previous slides a 3.0 GPA being required. GMAT scores generally for the Executive online MBA program are not necessarily applied because of the GMAT waver that we have in place. So I’d be happy to talk to you a little bit more about that. Absolutely give us a call and then we can kind of go over some of those admissions criteria and kind of highlight some of the gray areas so that you get a good understanding of how that works.

Moderator: And then there was a followup to the China trip question. If they’re unable to attend this June, are they able to take it in the second year or next year in 2015 or 2016, I guess, would be the following year.

Male Speaker1: Typically it’s taken the first summer that you’re in the program, just the way that the course carousel is set up. If we know in advance we can probably make some adjustments but we would need to know that in advance and then I think we can make an accommodation.

Moderator: Great, and then here’s a question we get a lot. Are there any times that you must travel to Pullman?
Male Speaker I: No.

Travis Edwards: I’d be happy to answer that, too. I mean, no, and that’s the one thing. I’m talking to prospective students every day and that’s one of the greatest things about the program is that it is 100 percent online. So there’s no campus visits required. Although we do have a brick and mortar feel in the online environment with some of those live lectures and a lot of the networking opportunities as Dave has spoke to and Velle. But, no, there’s no reason to come to campus unless you wanted to come for graduation.

Male Speaker I: And a number of students do come in May to go through the commencement ceremony and we have a big luncheon. And then also informally a group of students will come to a football game and we’ll all go together and socialize and just have fun. But there’s no – nothing is required. You’re certainly welcome to come to Pullman and see us, but it’s not required.

Dave Cohen: I was just going to say that one of my great regrets – so I talked about all these great relationships with my fellow students that I’ve had and that’s all great. I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never met one of them face-to-face. One of my great regrets was I didn’t get to go to graduation. I believe it was in May and I started with Disney May 19th, so that was a huge regret. So if you have the opportunity, and obviously on the China trip you’ll be together, but I would highly encourage you to actually get to a place where you guys can at least hang out and meet face-to-face once or twice.

Moderator: Great, thank you, everyone. The next question’s a very good question as well. Is someone able to take a leave of absence due to military deployment and, if so, how long of an absence is allowed.

Male Speaker I: I’m going to answer this in a couple of ways. The military people that we’ve had in the program usually will just continue to study while they’re deployed. But depending on your circumstances that may or may not be possible. We have one guy who is the chief of _____ in the Pacific theater for the – I forget if it’s the Marine Corp or the Army. I think it might be Army. So he’d be calling into class from Uzbekistan. He was based in California but he spent a considerable amount of time in other locations.

If you absolutely do need to take a leave of absence, we can work that out and you can rejoin the program later. It’s not ideal, though, because the program is kind of best done in a continuous fashion ideally. But if you do need to take a leave of absence, that is possible but we don’t recommend it. Exactly how long it’s allowed, I’m sure – I think the graduate school has some rules about how long it should be, and I don’t actually know what those are. Travis, do you happen to know what those are?

Travis Edwards: No, I mean there’s – what will happen is you have a very strong support system in terms of the process here and obviously becoming a student if you do. But you’ll work with an enrollment advisor throughout the application process, and then you’ll move on to a student support advisor who works on the academic side of the house. And on that side of the house what happens is if you need to take a leave of absence or anything like that – and this may be a little bit repetitive – but it is an option. We definitely will work with you on those things and provide different solutions and different outcomes of what other students may have done, and you can kind of take that with a grain of salt and determine what’s going to be best for you. That’s kind of how we deal with those situations.

Moderator: Great, thank you, Travis. And another international trip question. When will the trip dates be available?

Velle Kolde: Okay, and I can actually give you a really good answer to that because we have not set the date yet, but based on what – we haven’t locked it yet, but I would say there’s a 90 percent probability it will be arrive in Beijing on June 20th, and we would return to the US on June 30th. It will be right in that timeframe, plus or minus a day or two. Because the term that that five week course is in begins on June 15th, and there’s a little bit of pre-reading for the course but not that much because this is very much an experiential course. It’s about really going to China and observing and taking it all in, and then when you get back you’ll be doing some reflection on it and you’ll be coming up with a business idea on doing business in China or with Chinese firms. It’s probably the most fun class ever, and I teach that one. I should probably mention I am the lead instructor, the professor, for the capstone course, the China field study course, and the management of innovation course. So I teach in the program as well.

Moderator: Thank you, Velle. And the next question is how many students are in the program at any given time?

Velle Kolde: Typically about 50.

Moderator: Okay, the next question – we have an international student on the line. He’s very interested if we have any recruitment programs, or if we do, how they apply for international students. The recruitment as in post-graduation is what I’m interpreting his question to be.

Velle Kolde: You mean like placement services, career services?

Moderator: Yes, I believe that’s what he’s asking and if that’s not the question, please let me know via chat and we’ll clarify, but that’s what I’m reading as it is.

Velle Kolde: We actually don’t do much in the way of career services directly as part of the program. You will be part of the Washington State University Cougar alumni network, which includes tens of thousands of alumni that are all connected through LinkedIn and Facebook and so on. And there’s jobs and recruiting opportunities that happen all the time there. You know, Cougs looking to hire Cougs, and Cougs looking just for Cougs to help them find good people. But we don’t have career services per se.

The university does have it, and the College of Business has it, but it is really focused on the people that – the undergrads and the people in the MBA program who have like zero to five years of business experience that are just launching their career, getting into that – those initial jobs and getting their career off to a start. And if not – oh, it’s not really geared for somebody with 15 or 20 years experience and the type of positions and the type of recruiting assistance that that person would need.

Moderator: Great, thank you. And then another person is asking is there a difference between or how is the difference between online and on the ground education? Is there a significant difference that they’re getting?

Velle Kolde: Well, I mean, that’s sort of a really wide open question. In terms of quality, absolutely not. I’ll tell you that our on ground program is actually targeted towards – it’s not an Executive MBA program, so it’s targeted towards most traditional MBA programs – targeted for people that have zero to five years business experience, and it’s actually targeted for people in the earlier stages of their career. So the executive program, we have the best of the best of our professors teaching in this program and we are geared towards the mid-career – the successful mid-career professional, and it’s geared towards an adult learner. So that’s kind of the difference, but you’re not giving up anything. And your degree that you get doesn’t say online on it. It’s an MBA from Washington State University.

Moderator: Okay, the next question is from an audience member who travels a lot for work. If they’re unable to connect with the program until the weekend or not able to connect every day, would that be a problem?

Velle Kolde: It shouldn’t be. Now we’ve got – pretty much most everyone in the program has to travel for business and travels routinely. Even I’ve had several students tell me that they’ve joined sessions over wi-fi while they’re on a plane flying across country. They don’t actually talk on those sessions, but they are present and listen in and they do chat.

So it is set up to be asynchronous. If you do miss a session, you can watch it later at your convenience. You do not necessarily need to log in every day, and I’ll let Dave talk about it as well. I don’t know how often students log in. But you’ll know what all your assignments are, what your work is, and typically all the assignments are due Sunday night. So you figure out how you’re going to get your work done that week, that’s up to you.
Most of the students, they’re all type-A, OCD, successful professional people. They’ll typically – at the beginning of the course, they’ll look at the assignments calendar, the course calendar, and they will kind of map out for the next five weeks how they’re going to get their work done, and that’s been communicated to me. I’ll let Dave talk a little bit about this because he actually lived it.

Dave Cohen: So as Velle said, most of the major pieces of homework are due on Sunday. But over and above that, a lot of times there’s going to be – you have to post a comment about something and then you have to respond to your classmates’ comments. So sometimes those will be at various times in the middle of the week.

It’s hard anymore, I think, in most parts of the world anyway, to not be able to find a Wi-Fi connection. And you don’t have to connect for hours at a time. A lot of time it’s simply I need 15 minutes to see what they wrote, then you can disconnect and write a response and get back on it, or if you just need to submit.

We had trouble in the middle of the program at one point with the Angel system that we use for the logistics of all the academics and the classes and we were having trouble actually uploading homework, and so it was simply – the professor said, “Just email it to me.” And it was such a simple answer but it worked just fine. They are more than willing to work with you if it’s required.

I’ll also tell you that the average person – Velle talked about everybody kind of being OCD – was probably about one to a week to a week and a half ahead of where the course work was just because that allowed you some flexibility then if you were going to miss a class or you were going to miss course – homework deadline to be able to still make that. There have been a number of times where things fell on holidays and professors were more than willing to flex one side or the other of the holiday. If we had a class that was on a Monday, but it was a July 4th weekend or something, we’d adjust, and the same for homework. So it was a very easy program to maneuver through and I think, again, as long as you’re staying in contact with your professors, it’s not insurmountable.

Moderator: Great, and I see we have just one minute left. For any unanswered questions we will definitely reach out to you and follow up, but I will take one more question to finish out and it is a follow up to the last question I was asked, are there group projects or presentations and if so, how are they handled in an online environment?

Velle Kolde: Yes, there are definitely group projects because in business you’ve got to work with other people. I mean, it’s just how things get done. So, yeah, you will have group work and how the groups collaborate, they use webax, GoToMeetings, Skype, Microsoft Link, or actually I guess Link got replaced by Skype now. But there’s a number of different ways to communicate with your teammates. We don’t require that you use any one of them because my experience when I was with – my last 18 years with Microsoft – I was working with vendors and partners and suppliers all the time and we used a whole host of different web conferencing and collaboration software and they all work. So it’s whatever you’re comfortable with and you want to use, that’s fine.

There are capabilities through the Angel system, that’s our learning management system. We’re actually going to be upgrading to a brand new learning management system in fall of 2015, so that will give us even more capabilities and probably should give us more capabilities. It’ll be easier to use and faster, better, and all that. Dave, were there something that you may want to comment on that?

Dave Cohen: Sure, as I mentioned before, the group projects, they can be challenging just from a coordination standpoint. It’s one thing if you’re at the brick and mortar location and tell – get together at the student union. Well, there is not such thing. And then you’re dealing with – everybody has their own lives and then now you’ve got time zones, but you deal with it. It’s not constant, it’s not all the time, but there’s, I would say, about every other to every third class will have a group project of some sort. Some of them are relatively easy. You pass a document around and everybody kind of contributes their own piece. Others had actual presentations in them and that made it a little more challenging, but it wasn’t anything that, as I said, was not insurmountable.

Moderator: Okay, thank you so much everyone for joining today. Thank you, Dave, Velle, and Travis for answering the questions and of course the great presentation. As I mentioned earlier, today’s webinar is recorded and a copy will be emailed to you tomorrow afternoon and, again, as I said, if your question was not answered, an enrollment advisor will follow up with you within the week. I really hope that you found this webinar useful and that we look forward to working with you in the future. Once again, Dave and Velle, thank you so much for your time.

Velle Kolde: Thanks a lot. As always a pleasure.

Moderator: Yep, all right. I will go ahead and end the event now and thank you very much.

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