Howard University is joining the online MBA revolution but doing it in a novel way. The school is launching two online options—a more traditional MBA as well as an Executive MBA that can be taken by long distance. Howard, the historically black college, is also doing something else that is unusual. It plans to enroll the first cohorts in both programs in little more than two months on May 18th.
The school’s online MBA is being priced at $70,000 and will take three years to complete, though it’s possible to shorten that timeframe six months by taking a more accelerated course load. The EMBA program, targeted to applicants with ten or more years of work experience, is being priced at $68,500 and will take 18 months to complete.
Dean Barron H. Harvey says the new programs reflect student demand for greater flexibility. “We are finding that there is a growing number of potential candidates for our program who are looking for a more convenient way to access our education,” he says. “This will also widen our footprint not only domestically but internationally as well.”
ONLINE MBAS LAUNCHED BY HOWARD AFTER A TWO-YEAR EVALUATION
Howard will enter the market in a partnership with Noodle Partners, which has recently helped with the online MBA programs launched the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. Noodle Partners was founded by John Katzman, who also was the founder of 2U, a publicly-traded education provider that is now a major rival to Noodle. Katzman also was the founder of The Princeton Review.
“We have really embarked upon a two-year evaluation of trying to find a partner who understands our mission and vision at Howard,” says Harvey. “We wanted to make sure that partner has the capability and record of success to enable us to deliver a quality program online. Noodle has already been demonstrating their ability to understand our mission and has been working seamlessly with us on the programs.
“We thought we had much of what we needed but when we had the opportunity to work with John and the Noodle experts, we found out that putting on a robust and quality course is a lot more than just dropping it on an LMS (learning management system) with assignments and recorded lectures,” adds Harvey. “It really is about trying to ensure that you give the online learner a special and unique experience. You think you are an expert in your subject matter and you think you know how to deliver it. But when you begin to work with experts who have done it across a number of institutions, you find that they can share what works and what doesn’t. It is fantastic.”
INITIAL COHORTS WILL BE 15 STUDENTS BEFORE SCALING UP TO 30
Given the fast turnaround time, Harvey is expecting relatively small cohorts of 15 students for each program to enroll by May. “Our overall goal would be 30 students for each cohort going forward,” he says. “We are eager. We’re hungry. We want to get this thing out.”
Katzman says the partnership developed after conversations with Harvey that began a year ago. “I’ve known Dean Harvey for a while and then we were reintroduced a year ago and just started talking about what it would look like to build the first program of real quality and scale for African-American students,” says Katzman. “As we played with it, it just more and more intrigued me to build something iconic and league-leading.
“We will be starting new cohorts several times a year,” says Katzman. “It is a shakeout cruise. You want to get everyone working and students who are highly motivated and a little bit more flexible and work out all the kinks before you scale up.”
SCHOOL VIEWS EXECUTIVE MBA AND MBA AS TWO DISTINCT MARKETS
Howard, with a full-time MBA program that has an enrollment of 110 students and a part-time MBA with roughly 20 students, will have three intakes for both programs in the fall, spring and summer. The traditional MBA requires 48 credits to graduate, while the EMBA will mandate the completion of 42 credits.
Howard decided to launch two online MBAs rather than one, explains Harvey, because he views the programs serving two distinct markets. “There are two different markets and demographics for the MBA,” he says. “The profile we have for the online MBA is a person who has worked for two to four years in a management or professional position and is looking for a quality education to propel them into the higher ranks within their area of experience or to go into a new area.
“For the Executive MBA, there is a market and desire to provide education to those who have ten or more years of experience and want to enhance the career they already have. The program will serve senior people who want to enhance their movement within their companies and enhance their skill sets to serve their current and future aspirations.”
EMBA PROGRAM WILL LEVERAGE GREATER EXPERIENCE OF STUDENTS IN CLASSES
Both programs will cover many of the business basics, from accounting and analytics to finance and marketing, but the online EMBA will be more applied and experiential, tapping into the expertise those more experienced professionals can bring to class. “We’ll have those individuals bring their projects and challenges into the classroom,” adds Harvey. “In the MBA program, we will use a lot of cases.”
Online students can expect to devote about 20 hours a week to the programs which will feature both live Internet classes as well as videotaped segments and assignments. Students will take two courses per semester over eight semesters. The school also is planning a residential experience on campus that will likely run between two to four days, says Harvey. While there are plans for concentrations in such areas as supply chain logistics, finance, marketing, and strategic management, the first cohorts will not have the option to specialize.
Harvey said that Howard will recommend that applicants submit a GMAT or GRE test score for admissions but that waivers will be granted on the basis of an advanced degree or exemplary work performance.