If there’s one thing we’ve seen over the last several years with graduate business education, it’s a steady diversification of options. The traditional two-year, full-time MBA has been joined by a plethora of choices — the online MBA, the one-year MBA, the specialized master’s — all seemingly aimed at giving prospective students the ability to do one thing: fit a program of their choice into their lives as opposed to the other way around, having to build their schedules and lives around said programs.
Enter a new joint offering between HEC Paris and Yale School of Management, the M2M, set to debut in Fall 2018. The target market for this program? Prospective students with fewer than three years’ work experience who don’t want to wait five, seven, or ten years to get a graduate business degree. These students feel there’s no better time than the present to get the management education they’ll need for a successful career in business.
M2M: NOT AN ANTI-MBA
The M2M will be a unique, hybrid-like Master in Management where students earn two degrees from two powerhouse business schools: HEC Paris and Yale SOM. The first year of the 60-credit, near $90,000 program is spent in Paris, studying a core curriculum and business fundamentals at HEC. Students then come to the U.S. and finish out the second year at Yale’s Connecticut campus where they take elective courses, even branch out to take classes at Yale that fall outside of business.
By specifically targeting students who are immediately out of college with little to no work experience, Peter Todd, dean of HEC Paris, calls it a pre-experience master’s program. It carves out an option for those who have no interest in starting a career only to have to put it on hold to attend school again.
“There is this millennial demographic and they want it all,” Todd says in an interview with Poets&Quants. “They say, ‘I’m ready to go. I don’t want to work six years and then come back to school. I want to go now.’”
The impact can be seen in the graduate business market, the dean says. “If you look at the MBA market today, we all look at what’s happening with GMAT takers. They’re getting younger, the market is moving in a youthful direction. And if you look beyond the elite MBA programs in the world, to the very solid middle tier programs, they’re struggling. Struggling to keep six years work experience and to have the students; in the number and in the quality that they want to have.”
Yet Todd says the new program between his school and Yale SOM isn’t an anti-MBA. “This idea of providing business education and business training for people who don’t have work experience, it’s not the anti-MBA, but it’s a different model that’s rooted and grounded in Europe.”
“We’re seeing market pressures that are driving these pre-experience programs to move beyond the borders of Europe and we’re seeing them starting to percolate at Northwestern, at Duke, and other places.”
A GLOBAL MINDSET
Given that the program is inherently global — living and studying on two different continents and in two different cultures — there’s no doubt that the M2M will appeal to students who have an international mindset and a global outlook for their careers.
“Having a career is not about being in one place for one time anymore. There are a few global cities like New York and Paris that are going to capture people for their lives, but even then, people are having to move all around the world and they need to understand how to do this,” Todd says.
“What we’re trying to do with this program is build a model where we’re going to help you get prepared to go out into the world and, hopefully, get you thinking about how you’ll contribute and give back to the world.”
“I think with the M2M there’s this notion of multiple degrees with multiple schools which creates mobility within the program, but it also creates mobility in life and in opportunity.”
CO-CREATING MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
While there are countless joint programs and partnerships in the graduate business community today — both nationally and internationally — Todd points to the starting point as a key differentiator of HEC’s and Yale SOM’s new M2M.
“Most partnerships and exchanges we see today are this: ‘We do our thing, you do your thing. We’ll put them together and hope the students benefit,’” he says. “Here, we said we wanted to do something a little different. We said we wanted to come together with Yale and we wanted to co-create. That’s the differentiator; the starting point.”
With a partnership set upon co-designing, he describes a team of dedicated faculty and administrators coming together to build a new program from the ground up.
“On the HEC side, we have the head of our international, head of recruiting and admissions, and we’re getting professors involved.” On Yale’s side, the dean name drops notable faculty and administrators including Yale’s Deputy Dean David Bach, the managing director of the school’s global initiatives Camino de Paz Espiago, and other faculty.
Not only is the program’s design a collaborative effort, so are the marketing and recruiting efforts. “We start with a joint curriculum design then we go and recruit the students together and that’s a differentiator here as well. Basically, we’re setting joint admissions requirements across the schools then going out to recruit.”
A LARGER GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR HEC
Peter Todd has been the dean at HEC for two years now and says the new partnership with Yale fits into a broader strategy the school has to expand the reach of its notoriety globally.
“Frankly, one of our goals is to enhance the HEC Paris brand. For us, in addition to providing a tremendous experience for students, the idea for us in the U.S. for co-branding with Yale is also to get people to look at us and to think about us more. We do incredibly well in rankings, we do very well in business school world, but we need to get better known in the corporate world outside of France.”
HEC has established similar partnerships like the one with Yale, but in various parts of the world. The other network schools with which HEC is offering the M2M double degree program are HKUST in Hong Kong, FGV in Brazil, and UBC in Canada.
The first cohort for the M2M HEC-Yale will kick off in Paris next fall. The goal for the first class is 60 enrolled students.