Kelley Launches New MBA For Educators

Indiana's Kelley School of Business is ranked 21st among the best B-schools in the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

Indiana University Kelley School of Business

If there has been any questioning of the value of an MBA across sectors, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business has something to say about it. Kelley has announced yet another specialized MBA option, adding yet another program to its plethora of business education options. This time it will be the Kelley School MBA for Educators.

The program, made possible by funding from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, an organization aiming to identify and develop leaders and institutions to meet critical needs across the nation, is set to begin next summer (2016) and is designed for a very specific set of students. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation grant will fund full tuition for three cohorts of 15 students each. The one catch is students must be employed and active in an Indiana school district.


“We are not looking to create hedge fund managers out of teachers,” says John Wisneski, a management professor at Kelley who will head up the program and has received an MBA from Kelley and a PhD from Indiana University’s School of Medicine. “It’s really providing those practitioners the skills to lead and manage organizations. We are seeking transformational leaders in education.”

The unique program will involve 18 months of summer classes in Bloomington and online classes taught by faculty members already at Kelley. “These are the same faculty members that teach in the full-time and online programs. There are no adjuncts and we are not hiring any new professors,” Wisneski says.

The 48 credit hours will be taught mainly within Kelley with 20% of the coursework coming from the School of Education. Upon completion, students will have a year of clinical experience and three years of mentoring by a School of Education faculty member.


Wisneski says the program will be designed to provide three core skills for the students. First, students will be trained on how to identify core problems or opportunities and lead by evidence-based management.

Next, students will learn how to understand data and make data driven decisions. “Anecdotally, we have heard from educators across Indiana that a lot of schools collect large amounts of data. They have tons of data on students and student performance and we want to help them make sense of the data and how that can improve the quality of education, Wisneski says.

Finally, Wisneski says the program will create administrators prepared to be change agents in their districts. “As a transformational leader, we want students to be able to identify needs and then be able to convince resisters that the change is for the better,” Wisneski explains. “And then be able to plan for that change initiative and be able to execute that change. That’s the process of improvement that many business leaders are forced to make.”


Wisneski says the school will work with districts around Indiana to identify high performing teachers. The educators must be nominated by a district administrator to be considered for the program. Akin to many MBAs, the goal will be to help the students advance in their careers.

“We definitely view our graduates as having an advantaged position within the school system and be significant leaders within two years of post graduation,” says Wisneski. “We’re not training educators to go off and be entrepreneurs or go off to Wall Street. We want these MBAs to stay in their school systems and districts and naturally ascend to leadership positions.”

The sweet spot, according to Wisneski, is teachers with classroom experience that have shown interest in or have started to move towards a principal or administrator role. He views the degree as an extension of the idea business skills can be adapted to improve organizations across sectors.

“We don’t necessarily believe we are training educators in accounting or finance—we’re giving them a mindset of business process improvement and change that is salient across all types of organizations,” Wisneski explains. “Being able to think critically about organizations and identify problems and opportunities for improvement—it’s fundamental to a high performing organization and we want to give teachers that training.

Indiana University and Indiana State University join a network of four other MBA programs from Wisconsin and New Mexico already participating in the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership program. The full tuition reimbursement also due in part to a $14.48 million grant from Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based foundation that awards grants mainly in community development, education, and religion.


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