WSU EMBA Fall 2018 Webinar with Assistant Dean

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Jason Techeira:
Hi. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for our executive MBA webinar with the assistant dean. I’m happy all of you could join us today.Before we get started here, I do just wanna go over some housekeeping items. This presentation is on broadcast only mode. Basically, you can hear us, we cannot hear you. I do encourage you to use the Q&A feature down at the bottom of the screen. You will be able to type in any questions you have. I will be answering as many through the presentation, and we will answer as many of those questions as possible during the Q&A section at the end of the presentation as well.Just a quick overview of what we’d like to discuss today. We’ll go over some brief introductions. We do want to make sure that we cover the history on the program, the overview of the executive MBA program, as well as admission requirements. And then we’ll also go into the various levels of support that we have in the program as well. And then again, we’ll have that Q&A session at the end.So, with us today, myself. I am the senior advisor here with the online MBA and executive MBA program. So my name’s Jason Techeira, and we do also have joining us today Cheryl Oliver, the assistant dean of our online and graduate program at the Carson College of Business. So glad that you could join us today, Cheryl. If you could please give us a brief introduction of yourself …

Cheryl Oliver:
Thank you, Jason. I’m happy to do so. Welcome, everyone. As Jason said, my name is Cheryl Oliver. I am the assistant dean for online and graduate programs. My portfolio includes our executive MBA, our MBA online, our five undergraduate online majors, as well as our face to face master’s of accounting and some of the other graduate activity we do across our campuses.

I’m very pleased to be with you today, and thank you for allowing me to be a guest, Jason. Typically these webinars are run by our director of our executive MBA program, who’s currently unavailable due to some travel. And I’m really pleased to be able to be with this audience today and to have this opportunity. So, thanks again.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you so much, Cheryl, for that. Now, I will go ahead and hand it off to you to go over the history of our program, and if you could please just go over the rest of the presentation for us as well.

Cheryl Oliver:
Happy to do so. Thank you, Jason.

Washington State University is Washington State’s land grant institution. We were founded in 1890 here in Pullman, Washington, which for those of you less familiar, is the southeastern corner of the state, in the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains, across from Moscow, Idaho and the University of Idaho. So we have two sister college towns side by side.

We do have 125 years of alumni legacy and leaders from business. We’ve been offering our graduate business programs for over 60 years. Our first MBA degree was offered in 1957 here on the Pullman campus. In the 1980s, we extended those to our campuses in Vancouver, Washington, and in Richland, Washington. And since 2009, have been offering them entirely online.

We do have more than 20 years of perfecting online degree programs, having started offering our undergraduate programs online in 1995. That was an outcropping of our work to offer education across the state and our geography through correspondence courses that started by paper copies in the mail, then went on to VHS, DVD, USB, then some closed-circuit television and online. So we’ve been extending our education beyond the borders of Pullman, Washington for many years.

One of the things that I’m especially proud about working here at Washington State University is the land grant mission, which is to provide access to those people willing and able to do the work. So you’ll find as I talk through this presentation that we’re really talking more about who we include rather than who we exclude. Given that this is an executive audience, I do want to be sure that you’re aware that we do protect the executive audience. Where other programs do integrate professional or MBA students from other programs, for the purpose of efficiencies, we’re very careful to curate the content and the audience of our executive MBA program towards those people who are high-level leaders and can work and learn from each other with some liberty there to speak freely.

We are accredited by the AACSB. As you are shopping for programs, you will see that there are other business accreditations. The AACSB is the most prestigious and the gold standard because it focuses not only on teaching excellence, but also on research excellence across the entire portfolio, and looks very specifically at how we’re measuring our learning goals and our outcomes to our student experience, and our extracurricular goals when it comes to student experience across portfolio, and ensure that we’re providing the right kind of resources and the right faculty qualifications at the highest levels for our students. So we’re very proud of that accreditation.

We are also regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. And WSU just went through that accreditation and was re-accredited by that body this spring. That accreditation is especially important if you’re seeking federal financial aid, because without that regional accreditation, the university can’t align with that federal aid program to make sure that we can provide you resources. So that’s also very important to us. So we maintain those two accreditations. NWCCU at the university level, AACSB at the college level.

And the AACSB process, just to inform you of the rigor, requires that we put together annual reports and assessments, and they do a five year visit, and we’re coming up on our five year visit next fall. And we’re very eager about that, because we’ve put in so many things to improve our programs or to add value to our students, and we’re really looking forward to sharing the great news with them about all of the things that we’ve done, and asking them to take that on to other schools. There will be deans from other universities coming to give us our review and encourage us toward our mission. And we’re looking forward to sharing with them some of the things we think are extraordinary.

We’ve got a number of awards that we can share right now. We are ranked #12 on the US News and World Report Best Online MBA Programs for 2018. We are in the top 5% nationally. What you will find when you are looking is that programs can be considered online with required residencies, and so there are swaths of programs that we’re ranked amongst. Our program is 100% online, and again, that #12 ranking to us means that we’re competing with some of the best schools in the country by that measure.

CEO Magazine has also ranked our programs. The executive MBA being ranked in a Tier 1 status for EMBA programs there, and then we are ranked #8 by US News and World Report for our work with veterans. Military friendly schools is an important status for us, both with the two different publishers on Military Times and Victory Media, we do participate for all of these rankings in specific surveys that look at our data.

When you’re shopping for [inaudible 00:07:27], you’ll see that we’re ranked by other avenues as well, and we don’t choose to promote those rankings. Most of those are what are called portals, they’re aggregators of this information. They comb our website and try to measure what we publish publicly against what other schools publish publicly, and we would much rather participate in a statistically significant survey, even if it’s not perfect, to be able to measured by some specific targets.

We also are proud to celebrate, this last year is the 60th anniversary of offering graduate education. So you will see this banner badge on a lot of items as we celebrate that milestone.

As we speak about the rankings here, and we are very, very proud to promote those, I do want to be clear that we don’t game or chase the rankings. So some of the items, for example, do score higher for how many people you exclude. We could be ranked higher by opening our funnel wider, trying to get more people to apply and then denying more people. That’s asynchronous with our mission, so wherever the rankings are asking us to do something or they’re measuring something that doesn’t meet our mission, we won’t make any pivots. So we are proud that of those things that we think are best practice for MBA and executive MBA students, we are being recognized. But again, we’re not going to make any pivots to try and outscore other schools if it’s going to be detrimental to our students or detract from our mission here of providing that high-quality, affordable business education for those people willing and able to do the work.

Some of the milestones and the key cornerstones of the executive MBA include our quality. We are a Tier 1 research institution. We have the fully accredited MBA through AACSB and NWCCU. We have world-class faculty. Our curriculum is vetted against our peers and our aspirant schools across the AACSB portfolio, and we’re very confident that we’re offering best in class content for our students.

We offer small class sizes. So your class sizes won’t be larger than 20-25 students, depending on the course. In some cases, they’re a little bit smaller. We do vet your classmates to make sure that you’re in an exceptional audience of either executives who are contributing at a high level in their organization, and we also look for people who demonstrate hard work ethic, smart work ethic, ethical behaviors, and so on. So we really do try to make sure that that audience is something special for you, and also that we’re going to be proud of the class and the alumni going forward as a part of the WSU brand.

We do have group projects, current event discussions, and networking opportunities. I’ll talk a little bit more about some of the networking opportunities specifically in another slide. When we talk about group projects, it’s not your typical undergraduate, somebody’s the typist, somebody’s the boss, somebody’s never there kind of a project. We do try to put some parameters around the group and peer evaluations, opportunities for you to connect through our technology, and try to be very mindful about time because we do have students co-located across the globe. So we try to be very conscious about making sure the group works in terms of dynamics and functionality, and there’s some work involved to it. Looking at learning styles, personality types, et cetera, to help find some good matches and to help you learn and grow together.

In terms of convenience, this program is designed for working professionals. It is not an independent study program, it’s not a self-study program, come and go as you please. It is scheduled, with five-week courses, and the faculty do hold a one-week live session that they’re required to attend. You are not required but you are encouraged to attend. It’s a really great opportunity for interaction. So they’re recorded if it doesn’t work for your schedule, so you can view them again. But again, fully online and designed for you to be able to work in the evenings and on the weekends as you balance your work, your children, maybe your parents or other people that you might be providing care for, and a busy work schedule.

So in general, it’s asynchronous in that you can work within a week timeline on your schedule, and you can re-watch lectures. You can re-access the information of the course that you’re in at any time, and then the test scores and online resources library and reference materials are all easy to access, and accessible to you both through our LMS, which is Blackboard, and through a [MyW2 00:11:47] portal, which is our student information system, where you’ll have everything at your fingertips.

Now more than ever, our business education is relevant, helping you to take action and providing you with the tools that you need as you make decisions in your organization and provide value. It’s really important to us that as you’re in your program, you’re able to go to your leadership team or work with your staff and apply those things that you’re learning in the classroom and test those in that work environment in real time. We also want to make sure that it’s not taking away from your work, it’s giving you opportunity to contribute. And so we’ll talk through your program about how you might want to communicate the value that you’re adding through that process so that there’s room for you to seek promotion or to see a difference in your work outputs.

And in terms of support and online campus life, we have enrollment advisors who will be there for you all the time as you go through the application process, providing [inaudible 00:12:47] level of service, making sure you know what artifacts and documents have been received by our staff, and we try to turn that decision around within 24-48 hours once you complete your file. So we want to be very quick and be responsive to your needs there, and then once you are admitted, we have a student services advisor who will check in with you regularly. They’ll be ready by text, phone, email, to make sure to answer any questions you have, help you manage the business process of getting your degree, and support you.

Life events do happen in the course of an MBA program, and they’re there to answer any questions you have, work with you and your faculty, work with you and administration if you need any extra support, and then we do provide 24/7 technical support. And we also have professors who really care about executive MBA students and education, and really appreciate the opportunity not only to teach you, but to learn from you and practice. So it’s a really great teaching and learning environment from that point of view.

The other thing I will tell you is you do have direct access to our program director, Velle Kolde, who is not on this call, as I mentioned previously, for those people who might be joining late. He is traveling right now and unable to attend. But typically, all students have his phone number, his email, and he answers texts, calls, et cetera, as well.

As I mentioned, the curriculum is 100% online. If you start and continue to enroll one class at a time through the program and then toward the end are enrolled in your courses and your capstone simultaneously, you’ll be able to complete in 18 months. Our course content is specifically designed to provide leaders with the right tools to understand if those staff reporting to them are making the right decisions using the right practices, and then to make high-level assessments.

The content is asynchronous, meaning again, in that Monday-Sunday time period, there are lots of opportunities for you to engage with the content on your own time. There are some deadlines where you would need to turn in your assessments at specific points in time, but you don’t have to do them daily on a specific schedule.

There are networking opportunities through the online environment, through the course space, and a student resource space. Also LinkedIn, as well as some live events that I’ll talk about further on in this presentation. And then the weekly live sessions occur two times a week. Once with your lead faculty member, and once with an additional section instructor who’s there to support a smaller group of students. And those are also recorded for your ability to review them.

And then we do offer a capstone project and final presentation, where students spend the last 32 weeks of the program in a less intensive but really neat capstone opportunity to either take something in their current company to market, help one of their peers take a business idea to market … We’ve got a number of tools for you. Sometimes students even take intellectual property that’s been discovered [inaudible 00:15:48] to market or at least put together the plan. And that’s going to be a really nice portfolio tool for students to use, either on the market or as they approach other opportunities within their own business.

And then last, we’ve got this international field study, which is a great opportunity for studying abroad in the springtime for 10 days. It’s an elective course that’s five weeks, but it has a study abroad component, and then a leadership conference where students can come to the Seattle area and spend time together with our faculty, some speakers, and so on. And I’ll talk more explicitly about both of those in a future slide.

We do have a specific level of service for active duty and military personnel. It’s important to us that as a land grant school and a mission-oriented institution, supporting those people that support us. And for those people that are in the military, maybe moving every year or two, being deployed, being in different locations or having a variety of work schedules, we do have a dedicated person here at the university level who confirms all of the [VA 00:16:57] paperwork and works very closely with our student population to ensure a very smooth transition there.

We also recently placed a person here on campus, in my office, who is working on a speaker series for veterans. Some opportunities for placement and preparation for either promotion or transition out of the military commensurate with their experiences. We are certified to receive the post-9/11 GI Bill, the GI Bill, and all of the other iterations of the GI Bill, knowing that there are lots of different arrangements with people based on when they came in or out of service.

We are participants in the Yellow Ribbon program. We are members of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, and we are listed in the DANTES catalog as an approved school. We also do have some minor available scholarships for veterans or military personnel. One of our alumni, a good friend now and colleague David Cohen, retired from the military as the vice commander of an Air Force wing. And he has since used those skills to transition into operations. So as manager of creative costuming, that might sound a little bit more like fashion [inaudible 00:18:18] but Disney has thousands of costumes, maybe tens of thousands of costumes for different seasons and characters and staff, and it’s a large operation. And so he went into the supply chain part of that work, and manages their supply chain there, and costuming and costuming distribution across all their facilities.

In terms of the length of the program, I mentioned before but I’ll mention it again. 18 months is our program length. We do admit in the fall, spring, and summer, so it’s August, January, and May. So if this fall isn’t perfect for you, which I hope that it is, you can defer to a January start, or a May start. We don’t have any discrimination there in terms of everybody having to start in the fall semester, which I know a number of EMBA programs do use the cohort model that requires that, that will start our cohort each of those terms.

We are 100% online. We don’t require you to come to Pullman. You are encouraged to come to Pullman for graduation. We would love to see you at any time if you wanted to take a campus tour, meet with our staff, et cetera. But we don’t make any requirement on you to do that. We know that it’s just too cumbersome with schedules, and we do provide that interaction online.

A typical class, as I mentioned, is 20-25. It won’t go over, but it may go under. Our course structure is one class at a time, so you’re very concentrated in your five-week course. As someone who worked and attended my master’s on campus while working full-time and taking two classes, what I found was that Monday nights would be dedicated to triaging the class I took that evening, Tuesday would be dedicated to triaging the next class, and so on. And I was always keeping up just in time, and barely touching on the content in either course.

The design of this program is to allow you to have an intensive deep dive into those five-week courses, learn that content before moving on to the next, until it’s time for the capstone. Again, the capstone is over 32 weeks, so you really have an opportunity to take time to develop that portfolio with your group as you go along while still deep-diving on those other courses.

Enrollment does allow for a GMAT waiver. Most executive MBA students, by merit of being eligible to be executive MBA students, meet the requirement for the GMAT waiver. And our tuition is presently $1,233 per credit. That equates to just about $54,000 for the entire program. If you’re looking at this market, you know that’s just a little below average, but there are programs up in the range over $200. So our intent, as a mission-driven organization, is to be able to cover our faculty costs, provide you with an exceptional experience, but keep it affordable so that that ROI comes back to you really quickly. Most of our students report that they’ve been able to see their value add to their company grow quickly and during the program, not wait ’til the end, and then to see that recognition come to them relatively quickly after completion. So we want to make sure that’s a speedy payoff for you.

For admissions, we ask that you complete and sign the application. It’s done completely electronically. Your enrollment advisor will help you with that link. We do ask that you get a letter of support from your organization indicating that they’re aware that you’re going through the program and that they support you in doing that, because we do want you to be able to communicate very specifically that the value you’re working to add is due to the program, and it may offer you opportunities to be in some spaces that would typically be siloed within your organization as you go through this learning process.

Three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose telling us why you want to join the MBA program, why you think that you’re a good fit, and what you would want to get out of it. That’s not for the purpose of including or excluding people. It’s so that we understand who’s coming to our program and what their needs are, and we can work towards meeting those needs. The resume is also a requirement, and organizational summary and chart. That’s primarily to allow us to see if you’re at an executive level, and if your peers who are applying are also at an executive level within the organization to make sure that we’re continuing to keep that audience executive level through the program.

We are required to collect your official transcripts and request that you give us a brief interview. We do want you to have seven years of senior management or executive business experience. Again, this goes back to the nature of an executive MBA, and you being able to come into this space, share freely about your experiences managing staff, managing processes, managing resources, managing regulations and market forces, and being able to do so in an environment that may be intimidating to some of your direct reports or colleagues at your organization. And we do ask that you’ve earned a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Now, we do know that grade inflation has occurred over the last 20 years. We do have mechanisms there to review your grades based on that information, so if you graduated with just under a 3.0 and it’s been seven, eight, nine, ten or more years ago, we’ll be happy to evaluate that and take a look and see if maybe there are some adjustments we can make based on what we know about inflation and based on what we know about your experience. So while this is a GPA minimum, if this doesn’t fit your profile, please don’t let that intimidate you and do go forward with the process and work with your enrollment advisor to see if there may be an adjustment available.

We talked earlier about some of the layers of support. This is one of the things I’m most proud of. I know again through my own experience as a working professional going to school full-time, it’s difficult. There’s the academic side. If you haven’t been in school for a while or if there was a subject that gave you trouble earlier in life, it can be a little bit intimidating. And we want to remove those factors and free you up to be able to focus on your curriculum. There are also other factors in enrollment, registration, paying tuition. Maybe you need to add or drop or withdraw from a class. All of those different mechanics of the MBA program or any enrollment can be a little bit cumbersome in addition to your other life obligations.

We’ve got your enrollment advisor to get you through the application side, your student support advisor to get you through the rest. I’ve got a tremendous back of house staff that’s working all the time to make sure that you’re completely supported and see a seamless experience, and again, we have that 24/7 tech support. Those small class sizes, I think, are so important to being able to learn from your peers and spend time together. We don’t want you reading hundreds of posts on message boards. We really want you to be able to have a conversation in a smaller group that’s more meaningful and in depth. So we provide that section instructor, and then of course, as I mentioned before, Velle Kolde is available to you all of the time as the EMBA program director.

Some people want more networking experience, and some people want less. And so we do provide a menu of options for people. Some just say, “Look, I know what my objectives are for my organization. I need to learn this content, be able to lead using this content, and I’m on a path.” There are other people saying, “I’m considering switching paths, or I’m considering a new opportunity. I’d like to expand my network.” And so they appreciate not only the interaction in the classroom, but some of the services that we extend beyond.

So we do have a LinkedIn group for EMBA students where you can interact with one another and the program director and faculty. We do have a live EMBA leadership conference, the one that I referred to in Seattle, where you can meet your fellow students as well as alumni. Some alumni from our college who are on our board also attend. Our faculty attend. I attend. Our EMBA program director attends. It’s a really neat opportunity in a small, cozy environment for us to get to know each other better and for you to leverage those resources towards your next goal, and to provide maybe a list to some of your colleagues who are looking at transitions as well.

Velle is more than willing to look at your resume, give you some critique and feedback, and help you as you move forward in even using your EMBA degree, to be able to share your resume in a forward-thinking fashion. There is group work that allows you to interact with your very well-qualified peers. The international trip allows you an opportunity to engage.

Students are able to join the alumni association for a $20 membership. It’s a steal. They do have live networking events, they do have live career fairs that are really targeted at adults and alumni, not at the 18-22 year old population we have here on campus. The alumni association also has tremendous benefits across the country, much like many employers do with travel and other services. And then we do have chapters across the globe. So just about anywhere you can imagine, we’ve got a volunteer chapter president who put together alumni events for networking, maybe some athletic events, et cetera. And right there in your own community, you can connect to Cougars and get to know them. And they may not be business. They may be engineering grads who have started a winery, they may be communications grads who might be someone that you know off of your local television station. So it really provides you access to the rest of the Cougar nation.

And at graduation, you will get one year complementary membership, and then you’ll be encouraged to participate. I am personally a proud platinum level member. I have been now for over 20 years, and I’m really enthusiastic about the size of the alumni association, and the level of participation and how well Cougs take care of Cougs.

We also have the virtual career expos. Again, really focused on the alumni network rather than the undergraduate population, which takes place more in person or through other channels.

At this time, I’ll bite a little bit more deeply into the international field study. It is a once in a lifetime experience. If you, like me, travel for work, you may end up hopping into one city for a conference, going directly from the airport to the hotel location. Maybe you get to a local attraction that’s near the hotel, but as soon as the event is over or maybe before, you zip back onto a plane and you head out. I can say that’s been true for a number of really great locations for me, primarily as a function of also balancing my career and a family.

And so this experience will really immerse you into that location for 10 days, taking you to visit companies. We typically poll students and see what type of companies they’re interested in visiting. We also will go to the cultural attractions in that location, make sure you’re experiencing some of those once in a lifetime things. And then of course you’re together with your peers, faculty, and those people in that community. And we do have local guides who speak English and provide top of the line accommodations, both for meals and hotels. So they’re safe, they’re affordable, they’re at really nice hotels and restaurants so that you can be assured of a pleasant experience while you’re away.

The last couple of years, we have focused our visits on Asia, going into Vietnam, South Korea, and China. So I really do encourage you to do that. I’ve had the experience to accommodate a couple of different trips for different groups of students. Undergrads, graduates, executives, and so on. And for each group, it’s a real life-changing experience. It’s a different approach to travel than you might be used to in your personal or professional life. So I definitely encourage you to consider that.

This year’s executive MBA leadership conference is open to current students and to alumni. It will take place in Seattle, Washington. It is a three-day event that starts with an evening reception on arrival day, and then two full days of activity thereafter with a day full of presentations, a really nice evening event, and then another day full of presentations before closure and departure.

Tom Tripp, our associate dean of academic programs, is a renowned expert on negotiations. He’ll be speaking at the event, talking about negotiations, communications, and making proposals, requests, and agreements. Shaunice Meader is a talent management executive. Her sessions will be more focused on executive coaching, personal coaching, representing yourself in your work environment. And then some of you may be familiar with Drew Bledsoe, former NFL quarterback, very well-known WSU quarterback, and now the CEO of the Bledsoe Family Wines, which includes some exclusive labels and some more open labels, who will be there, and his wines will also be featured at one of the receptions. And I believe there’s a fourth speaker in the lineup, but I don’t have any insight into who that fourth one will be.

But I have attended each of these events and highly encourage you to participate. The networking, the personal growth and development, the opportunities to learn from some of these people who are otherwise inaccessible is tremendous, and meeting your fellow colleagues is also wonderful. We’ve had people come from as far away as Germany, and from all the states where we’ve had students attend. So I do encourage you to do that. There’s no additional cost to you. You do have to pay for your own travel and your own lodging, but the rest of the conference is supported by the college for you to attend and enjoy the materials and time with your colleagues and our alumni. That will be held in September of this year.

So if there’s time, what I’d like to do, and I know I speak quickly and I glazed over a lot of things, but I’m guessing that’s generated some questions. So I’d love to start taking some questions. Jason, if you’re curating those and want to answer those that you can, I would be glad to answer what I can as well.

Jason Techeira:
Absolutely. Thank you so much, Cheryl. We do have a few questions here, so I’d encourage everyone to continue to ask questions. Again, we’ll get to as many as we can throughout the presentation, and any questions that we can’t get to, we will follow up with one on one. And then you can always reach out to your enrollment advisor for additional questions as well.

But one of the questions that I do have here, are GMATs required? So I can answer that really quickly. Virtually all of our executive MBA students do get the GMAT waived. There are certain scenarios where we may need a GMAT score. We’ll look at an overall sliding scale for each applicant. So typically that seven years of progressive management leadership, executive experience that you bring into the executive MBA program, will grant you a GMAT waiver. And your admissions advisor will be able to go through that process of getting that GMAT waiver for you as well.

And I do have a question here for you, Cheryl, that I’d love for you to answer. I’ve done an online program before. What resources do you have available? And I know you covered on one of these slides some of the resources, so I think what we’d like to do is just talk about specifically an online program resources here at WSU compared to other institutions, what sets us apart.

Cheryl Oliver:
Yeah, I think one of the things that sets us apart is the level of infrastructure that we’ve built here to be able to support students as individuals. I think a lot of places, as I talk to my colleagues across the country, are still working on how to approach a student as an individual. So we’ve laid down all the infrastructure and support for the basic needs of attending to the program’s curriculum, attending to the business’s processes in terms of enrollment, getting your grades, paying your tuition, all of those aspects. Where we really shine is with our faculty who are keenly interested in a teaching and learning experience with the students, learning what the students are experiencing in their work environment, as well as sharing with them best practices through the philosophy, theory, and tools in the class.

And then second of all, our enrollment advisors are second to none. One of the two advisors has been with us for five years. She loves our students. When they come to graduation, it’s like a family reunion. There’s tears and hugs and she’s just an outstanding member of our team, really supporting students as they go through the program, calling and checking in, sending texts, sending messages, great listener, and really a cheerleader for our students. So between that, the direct access to the faculty, section instructors, and the program director, I think we provide an infrastructure of human support that’s second to none.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you so much for that, Cheryl. We did get another question here. In terms of the foundation courses, are there foundation courses in the executive MBA program? And so I can answer that one very quickly here. No. There are no foundation courses built into the executive MBA program. The curriculum for the program is really geared at a leadership perspective, really giving you that CEO vantage point. So those foundation aspects, you would have developed throughout your career. And then the direction of that curriculum again would not make sense to have those foundation courses built into the program. So you wouldn’t have to worry about doing foundation courses, although if you’re transferring from a different industry, again, they still would not be a requirement, again, just because of the direction of those courses.

Did you have anything that you wanted to share on that topic as well, Cheryl?

Cheryl Oliver:
I think I would just second what you’ve said, Jason, and that is that we don’t require foundation courses, primarily because people have touched on a little bit of everything in their career towards this point. If a student felt really uncomfortable or had a bad experience with a topic earlier in their academic career and really wanted to refresh, and you’re asking a different question, and that is, could you have access to a foundation course before going into the MBA, we would more than welcome you to do that to get that shot in the arm, make yourself ready and more confident and comfortable before going into the core course. But again, our EMBA faculty want you to succeed, and they’re very, very supportive. So what I would implore you to do is spend some time separating any of that emotional response from that previous discouragement from your work towards the course content, and really relying on those faculty to support you. But again, your enrollment advisor will assess that with you and give you advice towards either path.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you for that, Cheryl. Next question here that we have, how many hours a week should I set aside for the program coursework? And so during my interview process, when I’m looking for students for the program, I do cover the estimated time that you’ll spend in a week during the program’s coursework. And so what I recommend, and what most of our student feedback comes back recommending, is between 15-25 hours a week that you’d want to dedicate a week to your studies.

And everybody’s different. Some people are going to breeze through a specific course, and then some courses might be a little bit more of a challenge. But 15-25 hours is on average what is going to ensure that you’re going to be successful in the program, and when I break that up into per week, I truly mean, give yourself a schedule throughout the week. Make sure that you’re dedicating time, several days throughout the actual work week. Maybe an hour or two, two, three, four times a week. And then on the weekend, you can dedicate that solid chunk of time, as most people are off on the weekend. You can have more time dedicated at that time as well. But really try to stretch everything out over a week period, rather than just cramming it in between two or three days.

Cheryl Oliver:
I would second that, Jason. And if I can, I would also like to contribute that as many of you are raising families, have partners, maybe have other family or community obligations, when you set that schedule for yourself, do be protective of it so that you can be successful in the classroom. But some of those people really rely on you. They love you and want to spend time with you. And so giving them those timelines and letting them know that you’ve preserved Saturday night or Friday night for family time or fun time or Saturday morning for kids activities, whatever it is, I think really goes a long way in garnering their support and preserving the goodwill in those relationships up ’til the end. But you do need to protect your calendar and time as well so that you don’t have the intense weekends trying to get everything done and missing out on those things that are important to the rest of your life.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you, Cheryl. Another question that I think I’ll … geared towards you here, direct towards you, do you see students struggle with not being in an academic environment for over a decade?

Cheryl Oliver:
Not typically, no. We do use two layers of support to be able to prepare you. So we first have our enrollment advisors coaching you, talking about how the course will work, showing you what the LMS looks like, et cetera. Then we have your student support advisor who will walk you through an orientation through the course space and so on. Then we open the course, just the syllabus part, a day or two in advance so that you can pull that and plan your calendar for the next five weeks, and then really schedule that time.

And so if you will follow that advice, the content shouldn’t be so difficult. Now, getting back into a routine may be difficult. Getting familiar with the LMS may be new to you. Those are two things that I would say are paramount to your success, is that preparation and taking those steps, and then relying on the support that’s there for you.

I would also say, and I do see this, if a person had an adverse experience in their undergrad or just really felt like certain subjects were difficult for them, give yourself some compassion. You have probably changed since that point in time, and the material has probably changed since that point in time. And again, we want you to be successful. So know that things aren’t fixed, know that whatever other experiences may have been aren’t today’s reality for you, and that we’re here to encourage you and help you move forward. So, did that answer the question, Jason?

Jason Techeira:
Thank you, Cheryl. Next question here is, why online? Why choose an online program over a ground campus program?

Cheryl Oliver:
There are a lot of reasons. My suspicion, if you’re anything like myself or my colleagues here, our dean, our program director, et cetera, that as you are pursuing this, you’ve got a lot of other obligations. And when I think about our students on a campus program, when we had a live campus program, flying into the city, driving into the campus, paying for the parking, paying for the meals, paying for the lodging … Maybe you would be near campus and you wouldn’t have to pay for meals or lodging, but you’d be looking for paying for parking, spending the time to commute, et cetera … All of those things add up, especially if you have childcare needs. You’re adding those into the picture.

For us, online is an opportunity to live out our mission, and that’s providing an accessible opportunity for you to be able to engage with your colleagues and the content from the comfort of your own home, your own office, a hotel room, the airplane, wherever you happen to be when you happen to be there, without having to juggle those schedules and those other obligations for those hidden costs of education. So for us, it’s really focused on mission and providing that to you.

When I compare this to other areas of our lives, I no longer walk into the bank. I no longer go to the telephone office to pay my bill. I don’t even have to go to a mall or other place to do my shopping. I can do almost all of my life transactions, including paying my taxes and re-mortgaging a house, through an online environment. So this is really higher education keeping up with the way people are doing business today.

Jason Techeira:
Fantastic. The next question here, and I apologize, I’m not sure if you mean academic or professional experience, so I’ll be able to cover both. But, is there experience required for the EMBA program?

And so we did touch upon the professional experience that is required for an executive MBA individual. So that is seven years minimum of progressive management experience. And typically, we’re looking for leadership experience in senior professional roles. However, again, I would encourage you … You can send over your resume, speak with your advisor. We’ll do a resume review for you, and really just evaluate your resume and your background and your goals, your overall trajectory, to see if the executive MBA program would be the best fit for you.

As far as the academic experience goes, there is no … You have to have a bachelor’s degree, for starters, but there is no particular major that you have to have in your bachelor’s degree to be admitted to the executive MBA program. We talked a little bit about why those foundation courses are not required, and so that kind of goes hand in hand. Because of the focus and the curriculum and this program being really geared towards executive leaders, the major within your undergrad would not really play a big factor into this program.

Now, you’re going to be going over the concepts within innovation, strategy, all of the different integration across all areas within an entire company, again, to give you that CEO vantage point for the program. So it’s a very strategic based program. Did you have anything to add on that, Cheryl?

Cheryl Oliver:
Right, I think the most important thing to mention is that in terms of peers who are in the environment, everyone is required to have seven or more years of progressively responsible experience. So the average age in this program is over 30. People do have to have that bachelor’s degree, but we have pharmacists, we have pilots, we have Air Force commanders, we have engineers, we have people in biofuels, we have MDs, dentists. So there’s a variety of professions, a variety of disciplines. Writers, authors, people that got an English major, people that got a law degree.

So there’s quite a bit of academic diversity. We’re not looking for somebody specifically that had an undergrad in business from that point of view. But we do, as you mentioned, Jason, protect that work experience environment.

Now, for those people that don’t have that, we do have an online MBA that’s open to anyone who has less than the EMBA experience, and that would be a better fit for somebody seeking an MBA degree without the executive level experience.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you, Cheryl. I’m going to move on to the next question here. If I had a master’s degree, for GPA, are you combining both bachelor’s and master’s GPAs together, or the best of the one? So this is going to be … We will look at several different types of GPAs. So we can look at your undergraduate cumulative GPA, we can look at your master’s degree cumulative GPA. We can do overall evaluations of your GPAs as well. Working with your advisor, we’d be able to see which the most relevant GPA would be towards the program. We don’t want to discourage or impact somebody’s overall file that has no quantitative aspect to be admitted into the program. So we want to make sure that we’re giving every student an overall view of their entire portfolio. So we’ll look into your letters of recommendation, we’ll look into your work experience, and then of course, we’re going to look at the most relevant GPA as it ascertains to the program.

Next question here is, what is the key distinguishing feature of the EMBA versus the regular MBA program? And also, in addition to that, the international trip, what’s the difference on the international trips offered between the two? Cheryl, would you have some insight into that?

Cheryl Oliver:
Yeah, I understood that there’s a question about the international trip offered between the OMBA and the EMBA. Can you repeat the first part of the difference question?
Jason Techeira: Just the key distinguishing feature between the executive MBA and the regular MBA.

Cheryl Oliver:
Sure, thank you, Jason. So the online MBA is really geared toward that person who’s at entry-level to mid-level in their career. It’s got seven week courses, it takes 22-29 months. It does require prerequisites. We’re really trying to get those people that don’t have the level of experience some of you on this call have a shot in the arm so that they can get ready to maybe change their discipline area. So maybe they’ve been in accounting, they want to go to marketing. Maybe they got a bachelor’s in communications and they’re really interested in getting into marketing or something else and need that business experience.

So we’re giving them a longer, a broader and deeper look at business, and we’re approaching it more at the tactical level, like we would a face to face, emerging leader MBA program. Where that contrasts with the executive program is that we’ve anticipated based on what you provide us in your admissions artifacts that you’ve seen a lot of those functional areas, or that you’ve at least been moderately exposed to them, to be able to understand how your business works, and you’re looking for some high-level insights into how each of those disciplines of finance, marketing, accounting, business law, et cetera, apply at the executive level so that you know enough to know how to create expectations of those staff supporting the organization, and then to lead them forward. So those are two of the major differences.

There’s a difference of price point. Online MBA students have the same level of support but it’s much less intense in terms of how much of the business process they’re responsible for accomplishing across the enrollment. The two study abroad trips usually go to different locations. The OMBA students are going to Chile this year. I think they’ll go to Central Europe next year. It is more broadly focused because there’s a much larger group of students in that program, because there isn’t that exclusive requirement for the work experience, and so we try and hit a lot of different businesses and a much more … What’s the right word? I’m looking for … Something, a little bit more of a study abroad light. It might be some of these people’s first exodus from the country. It might be their first time traveling abroad. It might be their first time visiting companies outside of those in which they’ve worked. And so we treat that a little bit differently.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you so much for that, Cheryl. Next question here, I think you may be able to touch on. I’m not sure if we have the dates locked down, but when in September is the leadership conference, and will it be too soon for fall students to attend? I can let everybody know that no, fall students, anybody admitted into the program for the fall will be able to attend that executive leadership conference being held in September. As far as the official dates, did you have that, Cheryl?

Cheryl Oliver:
Yeah, that would be Sunday, the 23rd, is the night of arrival. And then the conference days will be all of Monday and Tuesday, the 24th and 25th. And then for those people that are in the Seattle area or want to stay over, on Thursday the 27th, we also have a college event that everyone’s invited to, prospective students, students, and alumni, called the Power Breakfast. And that’s where we have a large breakfast with a regional CEO or chief officer of some sort presenting a futures view and talking a little bit about their company and their company’s approach to success. They’re in the Seattle area as well.

So personally, I’ll be there arriving Sunday, spending time with you all at the executive event, and then staying over another day to attend that Power Breakfast and greet our alumni from across the university there in Seattle.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you so much for that. Next question here that we have … What does the tuition of $54,000 include? Does that include books, ebooks, or are those additional costs?

Cheryl Oliver:
The textbooks are additional costs, and each faculty member approaches the textbook acquisitions differently. We do have a few that have curated all of their own content and rely less heavily on textbooks. For some of the classes that have a more quantitative or problem set nature, like the finance or accounting, there’s an e-text that is accompanied by a product that associated with the text that allows you to go through study modules and get immediate feedback as you work through that.

It varies by course. The financial aid web page does have an estimated cost of attendance, because aid provided to you does take into account the cost of tuition, the cost of books, and then that you also are paying room and board at that time. MBA students are eligible if they have not maxed out their federal financial aid for $25,000 in loans per 12 month period. So calendar year, January to December. So you could, over the course of your EMBA, 18 months, be eligible for $50,000 in loans to help you cover the cost of your tuition and your books and other fees, and then you should be able to pay that off relatively quickly with your … return in salary.

Jason Techeira:
Thank you so much for that, Cheryl. The next question here, I’ll go ahead and answer it slightly and then I’ll hand it off to you. How easy is it for the students to get to know one another?

And my insight into this, I don’t have too much visibility into the actual classroom space, as I’m here to help you through the enrollment process. But I do know that I have quite a few students that will come back to me down the road to refer other colleagues of theirs to the program, and mostly one of the reasons why they’re referring individuals is because of the networking that takes place in the program. There really is a large community that you can network with throughout the program. You really do get to gain all of the different perspectives and dynamics from all of these other industry leaders in the program, and build those networks throughout the program as well.

So, Cheryl, did you have more insight into … ‘Cause I know you actually know a few students personally, just to how students get to know one another?

Cheryl Oliver:
Yeah, students get to know one another through the course spaces. The faculty will ask you to participate in message boards, comment on one another’s sections, and attend those live events and speak to each other in person. You may end up in a group or in a partnership with a person. It’s really up to your appetite, in terms of how much you want to reach out. The faculty do make space available in the LMS. There’s also room through the LinkedIn.

I know some people who said, “I have a really great network. I don’t plan to leave my community. It was a requirement of me to move up on level in my company to get this MBA. I chose the executive MBA, I just really concentrated on content.” And that’s okay. There are other people who said, “Hey, it was more important to me to get the relationships than to get the content. I focused on the content so I could be academically successful, but I really paid attention to who was saying what and what tone they were taking in their comments to see who could be of service to me as I work towards my future goals, and who I could share something with that would also allow me to be helpful to them.”

So some people have been really intentional about it. Some wanted to go broad and wanted to be buddies with everybody, so they were quite social. And others have said, “Hey, I just targeted two or three people that I thought had really meaningful things to say that mattered to me and I wanted to connect to, and now we’re really good friends outside the program.” So the mechanisms are there with the technology, the mechanisms are there with our approach to communication and content. What really drives this is your appetite for engagement with others.

Jason Techeira:
Thanks, Cheryl. Now, we are getting close to the end of the hour here, so to be respectful of everyone’s time, we’re going to field just a couple more questions here. Please do continue to keep asking the questions, though, because we will be responding to you one on one and making sure that you get answers to these.

But the next question here that I do have is, are there any time constraints to completing your EMBA? And I can quickly answer that. The program will take roughly 18 months from start to finish, to complete the entire program. Now, we do keep the program very flexible, and we’ll actually allow you up to five years to complete the entire program. Your student support advisor would actually be able to work with you to map out the most feasible schedule. A lot of students are trying to maximize their tuition reimbursement options, so that’s why you’ll typically see students that’ll take longer than 18 months, although 18 months is the typical time frame that most students complete it in.

But please do work with your advisor and your student support advisor, and they’ll be able to, again, build the schedule for you that’s going to be the most time and cost effective for you.

Next question-

Cheryl Oliver:
Jason, you have a question for me? Go ahead. I was just going to say, I have time for one more question before I need to step off this webinar.
Jason Techeira: Perfect, yes. So one last question here for you is, what new features are you considering to add to the program in the near future as part of enhancing the program to be on the top 10 best online programs?

Cheryl Oliver:
I’m glad you asked that question. As I mentioned before, we are not going to chase the rankings, and the rankings change year over year. The questionnaire changes year over year, the weight of each of those things changes year over year. So there’s really not a way for us to try to sneak a peek at the rankings and pull levers to move up.

That said … And, as I mentioned before, we are a mission-driven organization, and so if our work is recognized by the rankings, terrific. If it is not, we still fundamentally believe that what we are offering is a superior product for those students that are interested in our program. That said, we do have a committee of faculty and program directors, myself included, working over the summer, dissecting our entire program to say, are there different ways we want to offer things? Are there extracurricular experiences that are important to our audiences? What kind of pivots might we need to make with the capstone to make it relevant or more relevant to our students? Right now, students are telling us it’s relevant, employers are telling us it’s relevant, but maybe there’s something on the future horizon that we’re not seeing that we need to look at. So we’re investigating in that now for implementation over the course of the next 18-24 months, so that curriculum change takes time.

But we’re always doing that, and this summer, we’re intensively doing it. So there’s not just a pick it up, build it, and throw it online and just call it good. We’re in a state of continuous improvement.

Jason Techeira:
Fantastic, thank you so much for that, Cheryl. And I want to give everybody a big thanks for joining us today for our webinar. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your advisor, myself directly. The fall semester classes start August 20th, and the official deadline for that is going to be July 23rd, although I do encourage you to have your application completed no later than July 16th.

Again, thank you everybody for joining us. Once your application is completed, the typical turnaround time to have a decision back will be just about a week or two. So I look forward to hearing from everybody, and again, we will answer any other questions one on one. We’ll talk to you again soon. Thank you so much.
Cheryl Oliver: Thanks, everyone. It was a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you for the opportunity. Have a nice day.

Jason Techeira: Thank you.</stron