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Cornell’s $95K One-Year MBA In New York

An artist's rendering of Cornell Tech's New York City campus to be built on Roosevelt Island

U An artist’s rendering of Cornell Tech’s New York City campus to be built on Roosevelt Island

The Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University expects to initially enroll up to 50 students in its new one-year MBA program in New York City which debuts next summer. But it won’t come cheap: Cornell is pricing the three-semester program at “$95,000 or higher,” nearly $10,000 more than its existing one-year accelerated MBA program on the university’s main campus in Ithaca, N.Y., and $15,000 more than the one-year MBA option at higher-ranked Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Ultimately, the school said it expects to enroll hundreds of students a year in the New York City program.

The program begins with a summer at the university’s main campus in Ithaca, N.Y., where students will be taught the foundations of business. The 10-week term includes orientation, core business courses, leadership training, and professional development work.  Students would then relocate to Cornell Tech in New York for the remaining nine months where they will be exposed to multi-disciplinary learning and put coursework into practice through projects with tech companies.

Cornell is aiming the program at a broader group of applicants than its existing one-year MBA on the Ithaca campus. The school says that an undergraduate degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics or a related technical field is required except in exceptional cases. Regardless of their undergraduate degree, students will need to fit within the entrepreneurial and innovation-driven mission of the campus.


“For the first class, we’re targeting 35 to 50 students, depending on the quality of the applicants,” said Doug Stayman, associate dean for MBA programs at Johnson. “We think it has the potential to be in the hundreds of students each year.”

The first cohort will spend the bulk of its time in Google’s New York headquarters in Chelsea, where Cornell Tech is currently based. The program will move to the Cornell Tech campus being built on Roosevelt Island in New York and dramatically expand in August of 2017. The school will begin accepting applications for the program on Aug. 1 and review them on a rolling admissions basis (see admission schedule below).

Stayman said the program and the curriculum were shaped by market research and consulting help from Bain & Co. and Deloitte Consulting. “We visited tech companies in New York, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle,” he said. “We talked to everyone from three-person startups to Intel. We asked, ‘What industry needs are not being met well by the traditional MBA?’ And then, we worked back from there on what would meet those needs.”


The research yielded several surprises, according to Stayman. For one thing, most technology companies seemed to favor the one-year length of the MBA program. “We had thought there would be some resistance to a one-year MBA and there was some,” said Stayman. “But not nearly as much as we thought. The general feeling is that technology is moving so quickly that most people can’t afford to be out of the industry to go back to education for two full years. The opportunity costs to attend a traditional MBA are too high in technology.”

Secondly, though most one-year master’s programs in business tend to attract younger candidates, the technology companies said they preferred students with three to five years of work experience. “They don’t want the younger people,” said Stayman. “There may be some exceptional young people who we will take into the program but they will be the exception.”

And finally, the companies told Cornell that the real market need was for people skilled in both technology and business. “Over and over again, we heard variations on this statement: ‘I can find people who know and understand business, and I can find people who know and understand technology. But I can’t find people who can bridge these two disciplines and who can move an organization forward by putting these two things together.’”