Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is launching an online MBA
Georgetown University McDonough School of Business is entering the online MBA space — with a twist.
McDonough announced today (August 24) that it will launch a new online version of its Flex MBA program in August 2023. The two- to five-year degree will have two in-person campus visits built in, with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes.
The Flex Online MBA will be Georgetown’s third online business master’s degree, joining the school’s Master of Science in Finance and Master of Science in Business Analytics. The new program will heat up competition among business schools in the D.C. metro area. The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business just enrolled its first-ever class of part-time MBA students at its satellite campus in Rosslyn across the Potomac River and has been expanding its executive MBA cohorts in D.C. Darden’s new part-time program includes some online components.
“More and more MBA programs and business schools are moving toward online degrees,” says Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean of MBA programs at the McDonough School. “We have two right now. Both of them have done well. So we know the model works, that there are students who are interested in this — and we also have a nobler goal, which is to increase access to the Georgetown education outside of the DMV region.”
Georgetown’s current Flex MBA class is 128 students, 40% of whom are women, with 13.3% each from government and healthcare backgrounds. The program costs $98,211 per year; the cost for the new online version will be announced in January 2023. The school hopes to start with a cohort of around 50 students.
Georgetown is launching the Flex MBA Online now not only because of competition from peer schools but because the coronavirus pandemic “told us this could be done,” Malaviya says. However, he adds, when the school did initial market research it found through a survey of current Flex students that most — almost 90% — were against a move online.
“So we said, ‘Maybe this is a bad idea,’” Malaviya says. “But we went out and did a survey with our non-students, prospective students, and others, and there was a strong demand — which told us that there are two segments: A segment that really values the on-campus experience. That’s what they’re signing up for. That’s why they’re here. But there’s another segment who we don’t end up talking to who would like to be part of the Georgetown community, but don’t want to come or are at other places. And we have never really reached out to them. And so the research gave us a little more confidence that this was worth exploring further.”
Adds Shelly Heinrich, Georgetown’s associate dean for MBA Admissions and director of marketing: “The Flex MBA Online is a reflection of the feedback we’ve received from prospective students and ongoing trends in higher education. Students need the ability to balance the requirements of the MBA program among other competing responsibilities in their work and personal life. The online option gives our students the freedom to choose the timing, modality, and schedule that works best for them, with the confidence that they are receiving a quality education to help progress their careers.”
Recognizing the lure of its location, Georgetown will give students in the Flex MBA Online two week-long residencies at the beginning of the first and second years; most will complete the degree during their third year, Malaviya says. The idea to give them more time to explore Georgetown was discussed.
“When we did our research, what we found was that there is quite a bit of variance across online MBA programs in terms of how often students have to come to campus,” he says. “You know, on one extreme is a school like Carnegie Mellon and their online program, where their students have to come to Pittsburgh eight times. Which, you know, good for them, but I think that’s a lot. Their students really like it because they get really high ratings for student satisfaction, so it’s worth the investment, but is it worth the cost and the effort?
“We didn’t want to have no engagement, because we know the value of coming to the Hilltop and being part of Georgetown and walking around the campus and so on. So where we have sort of landed is that they’re going to be on campus twice during their MBA degree.”
But students who want them will have more opportunities to be integrated into the broader Georgetown community — through curricular and co-curricular offerings, including student club involvement, access to the MBA Career Center, and an emphasis on team-based learning throughout the program, Malaviya says. Online students located in the D.C. region also have the option to attend a wide range of on-campus events and employer workshops, as well as optional, week-long Intensive Learning Experiences.
“If they want to come to campus, take one of the electives that is offered only on campus, they’re most welcome to do so,” Malaviya says. “Two are required. Beyond that, you sort of customize it for yourself. If you like this course or that topic, or if you want to be on campus because you enjoy meeting people, and you have the flexibility to be on campus once a week for six weeks — yeah, sure, go ahead and do it.”
Nor does the in-person element of the program end there. Flex Online students, like their in-person colleagues, will also participate in McDonough’s signature Global Business Experience consulting project, working in small teams to partner with executives from multinational organizations to address complex business challenges.
Malaviya says it’s important to note that the new online version of the Flex MBA has the same faculty and same curriculum as its parent program.
“When we started designing what the program might look like, what the curriculum might look like, what the delivery mechanism would look like, there were some areas for debate, and some areas where there was essentially no debate,” he says. “The no-debate area was, we need to give the same education. So it’s the same curriculum with the same slate of courses but adapted to an online environment. But we still wanted to teach the same core finance and core marketing and core strategy.”
Malaviya says the new offering — like all Georgetown McDonough’s programs — is infused with the Jesuit values that make the B-school unique among its top-25 peers.
“The new online option is intentionally designed to maximize the learning experience,” he says. “By pulling from our program’s strengths, we are able to add more flexibility to the MBA format while retaining our quality education and close-knit community.
“We believe that the Flex MBA Online will continue to build on our renowned MBA offerings while reinforcing our Jesuit values of cura personalis, or care for the whole person. It’s important that we recognize each student’s unique needs, abilities, and circumstances and give them the opportunity to choose an MBA experience that sets them up for success. The online offering makes this possible for them.”
Georgetown will have a virtual launch event for the Flex MBA Online on October 18, 2022, at 7 p.m. Registration details will be available soon at msb.georgetown.edu/mba/events.
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