Emory’s Goizueta Launches A New Business Master’s For Veterans

Veterans and active-duty service members, who are also Goizueta student or from the broader ommunity, were honored during a Veterans Day ceremony this year.

Veterans leaving the military often face a challenging time making the transition to civilian  life.

Few  know the tribulations many confront better than Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, who retired from the U.S. Army ten years ago in 2013 and has since been inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. After his retirement, Keen joined the Goizueta Business School at Emory University where he has created a number of innovative leadership programs. His latest creation for Goizueta: A new master’s in business program specifically for veterans. The 11-month, accelerated coursework will kick off with a five-day bootcamp on business fundamentals, relationship building, and goal setting exercises. Then, students will meet with their cohort every other weekend for two four-hour course blocks that will go deep in  leadership, finance, marketing, data analytics, and operational strategies. What’s more the $60,950 cost of tuition can be fully covered by veteran benefit programs, including the G.I. Bill and the Yellow Ribbon program.

“Military members leave the service sometimes and they get a little lost in terms of the back end of not having that purpose anymore,” says Keen, an associate dean and professor at Goizueta.  Some feel disconnected from family and friends. Others face financial or health difficulties after their military service. “We want to make sure that these students, these veterans, are making this transition using the degree to do that.The military provides purpose  through a system of core values, and when you serve in the military, you’re surrounded by people who share the same purpose when frequently deployed all around the world. As we say, you’re sweating and, sometimes we say, bleeding and trying to achieve that purpose.”


Once cut loose from the military culture, many veterans feel somewhat lost. And even though, veteran unemployment rate has hit a historic low this summer, for years post-911 veterans returned home to experience challenging economic environments and other difficulties while searching the career field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year veterans made up 7 percent of the civilian population.

The new master’s in business for veterans was designed to ease the transition to civilian life. Goizueta, which expects to enroll its first cohort in the program in May of 2024, plans to put heavy emphasis on careers. In addition to class, each weekend, students will get personal and professional development focus time to help them find their niche and build a solid career plan.

The idea for the program came from Dean Gareth James, who joined the school a year ago after teaching at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business for 24 years. While at USC, where James became deputy dean, he closely studied the success of the Marshall School’s 10-month-long Master of Business for Veterans, or MBV.


Keen says that Gareth first approached him shortly after the dean arrived on campus in July of 2022 to ask if he’d ever heard of USC’s program which was launched ten years earlier.

“He asked me if I thought something like that would work at Goizueta. My initial reaction, of course, was very positive, but I asked him to let me do some research,” Keen says.

Lt. Gen. Ken Keen is an associate dean at Emory, in charge of leadership development. He also serves as a faculty member at the business school.

Keen later returned with a full-fledged yes, concluding that based on geographic research in the southeast region and some national  intake data, building a similar-minded program had chances for proving to be just as successful. Keen says through years of experience in academia, he already saw a lot of veterans exploring executive education business programs at Goizueta and elsewhere. But most programming lacked fundamentals in career development resources, which forced current and former soldiers to seek it someplace else. The program quickly became a priority, one of many under new Dean James.

“There’s a number of veteran support organizations, they’re really good, but they have to do that on their own,” he says.

Goizueta’s career development piece includes an entire curriculum dedicated to the transition factor, everything from drafting a business resume to writing a LinkedIn bio is covered. The program takes a step deeper to cover such topics as  how to communicate in a business environment with other leaders. Part of the degree is also focused on helping military members transfer their technical and leadership skills from the military.

Students will be matched with mentors and hear from guest lecturers who  operate in both military and business industries.

“They will produce some reflection and discussion around their purpose, and what are their personal and professional goals as you move into the business world,” says Keen.

Keen says, while there are plenty veteran-friendly programs, he hasn’t seen other programs in the country like this, aside from at USC.


Additionally, Keen says the degree is equipped with a business core you would find at any other Top 20 MBA program, including operations strategy, marketing, finance, and managerial accounting, with many of the classes taught by the same Goizueta business faculty. No electives make up the degree; applications open Aug. 1.

Keen believes that many of the qualities and learned traits military members carry with them post-service have plenty to offer to businesses. Traits they possess often include being exceptional at working in teams, having the ability to stay in control in a chaotic environment and adapting well to change.

Similar to the military, Goizueta is expecting to receive a diverse cohort in May of 2024, Keen says, with students in ages ranging from their early 20s to early 50s.

“They are going to have a common experience and some leadership experience, because we are going to require that as part of getting into the program. But they are going to be a very diverse population like our military is,” says Keen.

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