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Dean Cosier

Undergraduate students and alumni frequently ask me about the "tradeoff" between getting a master's degree in business "now" or working for a few years and then returning to school. At Krannert and many other top business schools, no tradeoff is needed between working and earning an advanced business degree. Executive education programs, an integral part of today's business school climate, offer tremendous opportunities for obtaining a master's degree while continuing (or starting) one's career.

In response to critics who argue that a quality MBA education requires enrollment in a full-time, resident campus program, I point out that an executive master's program can be an unusually rich environment for learning. However, schools need to offer an alternative to the traditional Monday through Friday class schedule over one to two years. At the Krannert School, the venerable Executive Master of Science in Management Program (EMS) offers a unique opportunity to students who wish to continue full-time employment.

The 22-month EMS program begins with a five-day orientation session on campus. Then, students periodically return to campus over the next two years to attend a series of six two-week concentrated sessions. Between sessions, students and instructors interact over the Internet and via e-mail. Employees have found that by using vacation and leave time, they can earn the prestigious EMS degree from Krannert while continuing their careers. In many cases, employers sponsor their managers, allowing them to earn their degrees on company time and money.

Krannert will continue to offer executive master's programs and make them a major priority for several reasons. First, they allow us to meet the educational needs of an important group of students who otherwise might not be able to pursue a master's degree at the Krannert School. Second, they represent an opportunity for Krannert to engage with corporations and small businesses in helping to educate business leaders. Third, the executive master's programs can reach out to students around the world, or to students in the local community. Geography is of little importance in Krannert's executive education programs.

What about the quality of the executive master's degrees? At Krannert, we are proud to be listed in the Business Week rankings of top 20 executive MBA programs. The outstanding Krannert faculty teaches executive education courses. Students also have the opportunity to learn from each other during residential sessions and over the Internet. They can apply much of what they are learning "on the job." Feedback from executive master's students reflects a high degree of satisfaction with their education.

The future should bring more interest in executive master's programs. Improving technologies make program location even more irrelevant. Online video is fast becoming as effective as the traditional classroom to promote interactive learning. All alumni, from newly minted graduates with bachelor's degrees to retired executives who always wanted the MBA, will have more opportunities in the future to earn their advanced business degrees. The Krannert School will continue to be a central player in providing a world-class executive education program that engages people and organizations in advancing the practice and theory of management.

Richard A. Cosier
Dean and Leeds Professor of Management

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