For many people it is probably hard to understand why Yashwant Singh, a resident of the city of Pune,160km east of Mumbai on India’s western coast, chose to study in Barcelona for his executive MBA – an MBA degree for working managers. But for Mr Singh, an executive at Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSN), India’s largest telecoms operator, the decision to enrol on the Global Executive MBA at Iese Business School was straightforward. “I was looking for an experience and for exposure in Europe, not in Asia.”
He is one of a growing number of executives prepared to put up with a 13-hour flight – the time it takes to get from Mumbai to Barcelona – to study internationally. And business schools are ensuring they can attract candidates from a distance by designing programmes that enable participants to do this. Out are midweek and weekend programmes; in are programmes where study is concentrated in blocks of one or two weeks, interspersed with online teamwork.
Nowhere is this more true than on degrees offered jointly between two or more business schools in two or more locations.
Lyn Hoffman, programme director for the EMBA Global London Business School runs with Columbia in New York, believes the format of this dual centre programme is compelling.
“The two cities are the greatest learning laboratories and we have a serious portfolio of assignments outside the US and the UK.”
The EMBA Global entered the Financial Times EMBA rankings this year in the number two slot. Both Columbia and LBS also offer single degree programmes based in New York and London, which were ranked 11 and seven respectively.
When schools have a portfolio of EMBA degrees, the trick is to ensure the fit is right between the student and the programme, says Jaki Sitterle, managing director of executive programmes at the Stern school at New York University. NYU has a part-time MBA intended for those around the age of 30, an EMBA intended for those around the age of 35, and is one of three participants in the Trium programme, ranked for the first time this year in the number four slot.
Trium is intended for managers with an average age of 40 and was designed jointly with HEC Paris and the London School of Economics and Political Science – LSE provides the geopolitical component for the course.
According to Ms Sitterle, candidates on Trium are those who need more than a general management degree. “They need management within the geo-political context...I don’t believe there is any other programme in this space.” The focus of the programme was determined in the first discussions, says Bernard Moingeon, associate dean for executive education at HEC. “When we started we said: what are the needs of top guns in global companies...All the content focuses on the impact of globalisation on companies.”
In the five years since the Trium programme was launched the class size has doubled. In London, Ms Hoffman says she forsees a second stream of the EMBA Global being recruited – the restrictions at the moment are largely space on the LBS site.
Other joint degrees are proving equally successful. The Kellogg school at Northwestern University, which has three programmes in the top 13 in the 2006 Financial Times EMBA rankings, has pioneered the art of working with overseas schools, offering joint degrees in Frankfurt, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong and Toronto as well as single degree programmes on its home campus in Chicago and second campus in Miami.
This year for the first time the 300 students enrolled on the six programmes will study for elective, or optional, courses at any of the other five schools, and their home campus.
This year 60 per cent of the students are taking the opportunity to study at one of the other partner schools as well as studying in Evanston (Chicago). Julie Cisek Jones, assistant dean and director of EMBA programmes at Kellogg, says there has been a broad interest in studying on all the partner school campuses.
“Each campus’s coursework highlights the expertise of that campus or the nuances of doing business in that region,” she says. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has been particular popular with those participants interested in doing business in China and Asia; the Leon Recanati school at Tel Aviv University has been a focus for entrepreneurship; and the Schulich school at York University in Canada has been popular with those interested in sustainable business.
Meanwhile, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business prefers its the “pure Chicago” model, using its own professors to teach on its three campuses in Chicago, London and Singapore. Like the professors, the students can work on the different campuses.
The programme retained its number six slot this year in spite of the entry of the two joint degrees above it.
Even the more domestic programmes are beginning to tap into the flight culture and attract participants from overseas.
At Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, for example, the Spanish language EMBA is attracting students from Portugal and even South America.
Alongside the growing demand for an international experience on the EMBA, there is a growing demand for EMBA programmes outside the traditional homeland of the US, says Ms Hoffman at LBS.
“The number of EMBA programmes is growing every year, with most of the growth coming from Europe and South America.”
Quoting statistics from the EMBA Council, the industry organisation, she says 47 per cent of EMBA programmes were from outside the US in 2005, compared with just 29 per cent in 2003.
She argues that this statistic might underestimate the growth of new EMBA programmes in areas such as Asia which are not on the Embac radar screen.
Not surprisingly none of the top EMBA programmes come cheap.
These days it is commonplace for a top EMBA programme to cost more than $100,000. Indeed the higher up the rankings you aim, the more expensive the programme, it would seem.
The Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania costs $136,308 if you study in Philadelphia, $145,380 if you study in San Francisco. The Columbia/LBS Global Executive MBA, by comparison, is $120,000, while Trium costs $116,900.
But what the data collected for the 2006 Financial Times ranking shows is that for many people on these programmes, this can equate to as little as six months