California Lutheran University’s School of Management is finalizing a new graduate program with a new specialization. Launching for the first time this October, the Masters of Business Administration for Experienced Professionals program will offer students education geared specifically toward mid-career professionals with relevant work experience.
“We are going to aim for people with work experience. Not just work experience, but also relevant management experience, minimum five to seven years,” Associate Dean of the School of Management, Vlad Vaiman said.
Ever since taking the position in January 2014, Vaiman has focused his efforts into creating new programs. After completely revamping the flagship MBA program currently offered at Cal Lutheran and seeing no other similar professional programs in the Southern California area, he piloted an initiative a year and a half in the making.
“We aim at midcareer professionals,” Vaiman said. “We go deeper into functions. People who study or want to study in this program, experienced professionals, they are already specialists. What they need is more managerial skills, more leadership skills.”
As opposed to the traditional MBA program, qualifications for the experienced professionals program will include five to seven years of relevant management experience. This allows students to receive more specialized instructions and work on problems currently facing them in their own institution.
“It’s really difficult, specifically for an instructor, to plan a class where you have people who have never worked before or have very limited work experience and also be teaching that same class to people who have 30 years of work experience,” said Mary Jo Shane, an assistant professor set to teach organizational design online in the program. “I think we can teach very differently. It’s people who have a better understanding who actually know what it’s like to lead and manage others.”
The new MBA-EP program is also different from the existing MBA program in how it is structured. According to the program website, it will be a total of 18 months with eight terms, each eight weeks long. It will be a total of 15 courses at three units each, $985 per unit.
The classes will be a hybrid mix of both online and in-person classes in condensed weekend format. Each term, students will attend two weekend sessions on campus and also be responsible for an online lecture on a weekly basis.
According to Emily Yamamoto, MBA programs specialist also involved with student relations for the School of Management, all of the course timelines are mapped until 2018, making it easy for working professionals to manage their schedules around it.
“It is designed around working adults. We’re going to give them every opportunity to succeed in the program,” Yamamoto said. “The flexibility works better for their schedule.”
Mike Panesis, executive director for the Center of Entrepreneurship in Westlake, said there is convenience behind the scheduling.
“It is scheduled so people with full-time jobs can get classes easier,” Panesis said.
Susan Wood, a graduate program specialist who is also involved in marketing and outreach for the School of Management, said this unique scheduling allows students from further away to become involved with less on-campus commitments. In addition, it makes pursuing a career at the same time feasible.
“It’s less class time, more independent,” Wood said. “Many people travel for business. You can do the online from wherever you are in the world.”
Additionally, the program will be cohort based, meaning that instead of rolling enrollment like in the traditional MBA program, term-enrolled students capped at 20 will study with each other for the entire program.
“People with work experience want to study in a group of their peers. They can share their knowledge and experience among themselves,” Vaiman said. “It is a cohort-based program. You will start with a cohort of your peers and you will study with them for the whole 18 months, while the MBA program has rolling enrollment, there are no cohorts.”
Yamamoto said she sees the value in studying with a constant group of students throughout an entire program.
“This cohort will be together the entire 18 months. They are like-minded and like-experienced,” Yamamoto said. “The connections you make in this style will last a lifetime.”
In addition, it allows better connections to previous courses in new ones. Instructors can get more specialized with instruction if all students have had similar experiences.
“Part of the value of an MBA is the accumulation of knowledge from one course to the next,” Panesis said.
With the current ever-changing economic systems, curriculum contributors to the program such as Professor of Entrepreneurship William Gartner, find it important for students to be proactive.
“We live in an entrepreneurial economy and everyone is better off if they have more entrepreneurship rather than less,” Gartner said. “These students should be more in the rule-making jobs than the rule-taking jobs.”
Published April 6th, 2016