“Here we grow again.” That’s the tune faculty and administrators at Babson College can be heard humming today. The school has announced that its MBA and executive education offerings are expanding once more — yet this time they’re going global. The destination of choice: Dubai, U.A.E.
The Babson MBA-Dubai launches in January 2019. It will be a replica of the college’s popular Blended Learning MBA. The format will be the same, with a 50/50 split between online classes and face-to-face sessions — the only difference being that in-person sessions will be held at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a 272-acre, internationally recognized business district and financial hub for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.
According to the school, DIFC houses hundreds of leading financial and nonfinancial institutions, including some of the world’s largest banks and corporations, emerging fintech startups, professional service providers, wealth management firms, retailers, and more. Babson will be housed in The Academy at DIFC, the district’s educational hub built to support a knowledge-based economy, attract the region’s brightest graduates, and provide access to Dubai’s innovative business community, according to a school news release.
GOING WHERE THE ACTION IS
Why Dubai? Babson President Kerry Healey tells Poets&Quants the reasoning was simple: That’s where the action is. Since 2010, the school has adopted a model that takes its top-ranked entrepreneurship education offerings and plants them inside thriving hotspots for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Says Healey, “Since 2010, we’ve had a hub in San Francisco where we deliver our Blended Learning MBA. Now, we have undergraduate student cohorts who spend a semester there, alumni events, and exec ed. Then our new Boston hub opened in 2015. That facility has brought us much closer to the Seaport financial district and the innovation district in Kendall Square and enabled us to be a part of both. We now have hundreds of events a year there plus graduate and undergraduate courses.”
Most recently, Babson opened a hub in Miami, Florida. “Miami is a financial and entrepreneurship center for Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean,” Healey says. “We also know Miami has more startups per capita than any other city in the U.S. It’s a very vibrant entrepreneurial community right now.”
Healey says Babson opening of a Dubai location is a natural extension of the aforementioned growth. “Where else in the world has such a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem as do Boston, Miami, and San Francisco? For us, the answer is Dubai,” she says. “It’s a financial center for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, it draws business leaders from around the world, and there are a number of important family enterprises based out of Dubai. Being near the entrepreneurial action is a real important aspect of who we are and staying on the cutting edge of entrepreneurial developments and culture.”
Healey concedes that Babson, ranked 54th by Poets&Quants and 83rd by U.S. News & World Report, can’t label itself a global leader for entrepreneurship education with offerings that are only available in the U.S. This will be the school’s first-ever international expansion. “Our mission statement is to educate entrepreneurial leaders who create economic and social value everywhere,” she says. “How do you fulfill your mission to reach entrepreneurs everywhere? Part of that has to be you leave the boundary of your own campus.”
SAME CURRICULUM, WITH A DUBAI FEEL
The Babson MBA-Dubai curriculum will mirror the U.S. version of Babson’s Blended Learning MBA, but there will be some region-specific content.
The program has been designed specifically for locally and regionally based working professionals, according to the school’s announcement, including but not limited to “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) owners, the next generation of family business leaders, and those working within corporations, who are looking to advance their entrepreneurial capacity while making the most of their time, learning, and investment. Specific to Dubai will be special topics offered in family entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance, mergers and acquisitions for entrepreneurs, and more.”
Applications for the 21-month cohort program are now being accepted. The cost will be the same as in the U.S. — roughly $93,000 total — and the program will maintain the same admissions requirements including GMAT or GRE scores, an essay, and letters of recommendations. Babson says it is hoping to draw from Dubai’s pool of 7,000 people within the area who are currently looking to receive their masters.
“But we also think there are any number of students in south Asia or Africa or Middle East who might not be able to travel to U.S. to study,” Healey says. “This will give them the opportunity to have a much more convenient and accessible option to be able to study with Babson, with Babson professors, and to have that authentic experience.”
‘ENTREPRENEURS LOOK DIFFERENT IN DIFFERENT PLACES’
Speaking of options, Babson’s international expansion also includes executive education. The school says it will be working with organizations in Dubai to develop custom programs and specialized open enrollment initiatives. The first open-enrollment program — Approaches to Innovation in the U.A.E. — will launch in the fall while additional offerings will be announced this summer.
Says Healey, “The government of U.A.E. has a plan called Vision 2021 that’s very focused on making the culture more entrepreneurial. So we’re working with them to find ways to offer exec ed that will jumpstart entrepreneurial thinking and action in the region.”
Overall, President Healey says she’s most excited to see Babson head into Dubai because entrepreneurship takes on different characteristics around the world.
“We know entrepreneurs look different in different places. It’s one of the most exciting and compelling reasons to go elsewhere,” she says. “There are different opportunities and different cultures that influence one’s approach to those opportunities. We’re excited to offer students insights into those differences in our various hubs. Whether it’s the tech community in San Francisco, Latin American practices and family businesses in Miami, or what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in the Middle East or South Asia.”