Jack Welch’s Online MBA School Gains Traction

Jack Welch

He’s there in the flesh. Jack Welch, the legendary chairman and CEO of General Electric Co.

Well, maybe not exactly in the flesh. But certainly live, unplugged and on a computer screen, with his trademark tell-it-like-it-is persona, a trace of the Salem, Mass., accent still in his scratchy voice at the age of 78.

Sitting in front of a camera with an open blue shirt and a sports jacket, he’s fielding questions from his MBA students.

“What would be a winning strategy for helping to get the U.S. economy growing at a faster pace?”

“What does it really mean to provide exceptional customer service?”

“Can you discuss skills on listening to and accepting candid feedback?”

Welch handles each question with casual self-confidence and personal anecdotes, often drilling down with follow-up questions.

Welcome to the Jack Welch Management Institute. This is Welch’s online MBA program, and each quarter he shows up on webcam for little more than an hour to engage with the MBA students. All told, the Executive MBA consists of a dozen required courses, each ten weeks in length, delivered online with “synchronous opportunities” (Translation: You can do the class in real time if you’re able to). Besides the quarterly Q&A videoconferences with Welch, video messages from him populate the school’s website and he’ll often respond to half a dozen messages on the bulletin boards two or three times each term.

ENROLLMENT IS UP 36% AT THE JACK WELCH MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE

At a time when many business schools are reporting declining enrollment in their full-time MBA programs, Welch’s Management Institute is doing a brisk business. The institute currently has 538 active students, up a healthy 36% in the past year. But Welch is far more ambitious, having a stated goal to enroll 5,000 students within five years, far eclipsing Harvard’s 1,800 MBA candidates or Stanford Graduate School of Business’ 800 students.

Students say they are drawn to the program because of Welch’s name and reputation, the flexibility of studying online, and the low cost of the program. At $36,000, it’s considerably less expensive than the online offerings of highly ranked business schools, such as Indiana University, the University of North Carolina, and Carnegie Mellon, where the total cost ranges between $60,000 to $118,000.

Steven Scott, chief engineer for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, says it wouldn’t be possible for him to get an MBA any other way. Scott works incredibly long hours and frequently travels, making any commitment to a more traditional MBA program impossible. The same is true of Kathleen Thompson, 31, director of acquisition and integration for PGi, a web conferencing company. Thompson says she has taken classes from hotel rooms in Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Chicago, New York and Orlando—as well as from numerous airplanes 35,000 feet in the sky. “Thank God for GoGo Internet,” she laughs.

“I’m on the road two to three weeks out of the month so the flexibility of the program was important. It had to accommodate my travel schedule and my 50-to-60-hour work week. The other reason is just because of Jack’s leadership skills. I was very familiar with Jack and his principles. After diving in, I saw a complete alignment with him and how I want to run things.”

‘LEARN IT ON MONDAY, APPLY IT ON TUESDAY, SHARE IT ON FRIDAY’

What differentiates this online program from many others is its emphasis on the pragmatic.  The curriculum is infused with Welch’s core beliefs and ideas on business and management, from the importance of candor in managing employees to the more controversial differentiation policies he made famous at GE. Welch wants the students, as he puts it, to “learn it on Monday, apply it on Tuesday and share it on Friday.”

The courses most heavily influenced by Welch’s teachings are Leadership In The 21st Century, Strategy, and People Management. Those so-called signature courses come early in the curriculum, which ends with a capstone business simulation done with virtual teams of students. The program can be completed from a laptop computer anywhere in the world—from a hotel room to an airplane flight—in two years. Most students, however, take one course at a time, requiring anywhere from 15 to 20 hours of work a week, which would allow them to pass through the program in two-and-one-half years.

  • Anthony Bowen

    Yes it is and check the ranking for EMBA today globally now in the top 20

  • Anthony Bowen

    yes it has see the latest update

  • Anthony Bowen

    Yes it has google it

  • Anthony Bowen

    June 19, 2014 09:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
    HERNDON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Baccalaureate/Graduate Degree Board of Commissioners has awarded the Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI) at Strayer University accreditation of its executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes within the JWMI program meet the

  • Anthony Bowen

    June 19, 2014 09:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
    HERNDON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Baccalaureate/Graduate Degree Board of Commissioners has awarded the Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI) at Strayer University accreditation of its executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes within the JWMI program meet the rigorous educational standards established by ACBSP

  • Anthony Bowen

    June 19, 2014 09:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
    HERNDON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Baccalaureate/Graduate Degree Board of Commissioners has awarded the Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI) at Strayer University accreditation of its executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes within the JWMI program meet the rigorous educational standards established by ACBSP

  • Anthony Bowen

    Feb 12, 2015 JWMI Achieves Top Online MBA Ranking. The Jack …
    Jack Welch Management Institute’s Executive MBA Program Receives ACBSP Accreditation
    Accreditation demonstrates program meets rigorous academic standards

    June 19, 2014 09:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
    HERNDON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Baccalaureate/Graduate Degree Board of Commissioners has awarded the Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI) at Strayer University accreditation of its executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes within the JWMI program meet the rigorous educational standards established by ACBSP

  • Here I said it

    @ Andrea, I was looking at your profile and observed that you have studied at best universities like UVA, Penn State Uni and for you to state that AACSB accreditation is not a barrier is an insult to students intelligence. It is obvious that you are promoting the Co you are working, but to dismiss the fact that AACSB accreditation has nothing to do for students future career is a laughable matter. Please mention any companies that won’t review or judge you based on the schools you went or studied. At least be honest that you are focusing to help students that are already in the job but would like to study for their Masters. But blindly to lie and make a bold statement such as AACSB accreditation is not a barrier is ridiculous an absurd.
    @ Mike yes she did gradated from an AACSB program and fyi Strayers credit is not transferable to most of Universitites.

  • Rakesh

    Hi John, I am reviving this discussion after an year. JWMI definitely seems to be an innovation in business education. However I personally feel its not fair to be compared with Harvard or Stanford which have been in the arena for at least 50+years in the field of business education.

    Thank you.

  • Mike

    Andrea, Did you graduate from an AACSB program in all your past Degrees?
    If, so why and was it important to you to do so or not?
    In other words it does matter to employers and transfer credit to other Universities.
    What do you think?
    Thank you,
    Mike

  • About time too. Everyone is so focussed on the ivy league schools that the ones that are not are almost always ignored. JWMI, is a great school, what they teach is really great. Sadly, in my case I had to leave the EMBA course because of administration issues. I sent a semester there and the content of work was really remarkable, have a teleconference with Mr Welch was really helpful, he is such a natural about giving great advice and teaching things about leadership that so many few people understand and can explain in plain English. I wish the school well and thanks for writing about the course!

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for your honest feedback. I appreciate it. Frankly, I thought it obvious that the Welch program isn’t AACSB accredited, but I should never assume anything and the net allows for a full discussion which as you can see already brought out that fact. In retrospect, I should have invited the elephant to the room. In all honesty, however, I suspect that AACSB rules and guidelines often hamper innovation in business education so I am not exactly a strong advocate for it. Nonetheless, there are many schools and programs that are accredited by the AACSB that I would never recommend to our readers.

  • bulgebracketibd

    John, I usually enjoy your articles, but this article seems like a puff
    piece. While you praise many of the positive elements of this program,
    you don’t mention the biggest elephant in the room: the fact that this is a
    completely unaccredited program. Mentioning this would make this a much
    more balanced piece. Relative to some of your other articles that
    featured deep, objective analysis, this article felt more like an
    advertisement. Did you receive compensation in any form from Jack Welch
    Institute for writing this piece? Other than that, keep up the great
    work with the website, I really enjoy the breadth and depth of your articles. Thank you.

  • Andrea

    Mike, Please see my response below about AACSB accreditation. The JWMI student and alumni populations are both experiencing great results during their studies and after graduation. AACSB accreditation is not a barrier in their ability to get ahead and meet their professional goals.

    Each institution has different guidelines for graduate credit transfer. If you decided to transfer from one graduate program to another, the new institution would evaluate prior credit against your new program of study to determine how many hours might transfer.

    Feel free to be in touch with questions.

    Andrea Backman, PhD
    Dean
    Jack Welch Management Institute
    andrea.backman@jwmi.com

  • Andrea

    Hi Chuck,

    AACSB is especially designed to accredit research-focused institutions. Because JWMI is laser-focused on teaching rather than research, particularly on teaching the immediate, practical application of business principles in companies and careers, AACSB accreditation is not something we are currently pursuing. Feel free to be in touch with me directly at andrea.backman@jwmi.com with any additional questions about this or any other aspect of our program.

    Thanks,
    Andrea Backman
    Dean
    Jack Welch Management Institute

  • Mike

    Hi John,

    1. Why, no?
    2. Will earning an EMBA Degree from JWMI have any negative effects since it is not AACSB accredited?

    3. As, compared to the MBA from Princeton, etc, with the AACSB accreditation?

    4. What do you really think or see in the coming EMBA JWMI programs future?

    5. What MBA or EMBA programs would you recommend from your experiences?

    6. Will the JWMI credits transfer to other MBA programs?

  • JohnAByrne

    Yes, absolutely in addition to. And it would be Georgetown University that is accredited by Middle States and not the business school per se which is AACSB accredited.

  • aacsb

    Note, Georgetown is accredited through AACSB (apologies if you’re saying in addition too).

  • JohnAByrne

    That’s a great question Chuck. The answer is no and AACSB accreditation is the primary accreditation for a business school in the U.S. if not the world. The Institute is accredited by the Middle States Commission on HIgher Education, the same group that accredits Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown and other universities. It also is in the process of applying for accreditation for its EMBA program from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

  • Chuck

    Would this program receive AACSB accreditation?