There’s a Class for That! EMBA Programs’ Innovative Offerings
By Rodney Alsup, MBA News Digest

The forces of change are transforming graduate management education in ways that were inconceivable five years ago. Nowhere is this more evident than in EMBA Program course offerings. Twenty years ago, few EMBA Programs offered or were even considering offering elective courses to students. Today, elective courses are common with a sizable array of courses available to students.

While the point at which elective offerings became a trend is difficult to discern, there’s evidence that EMBA Programs are willing participants in the trend. The 2016 and 2017 EMBA Council Membership Program Survey included an optional question asking respondents to list any new elective courses that were added to their program during the previous 12 months. In 2016, 139 respondents mentioned 233 new elective courses and in 2017, 148 respondents mentioned 317 new elective courses.

EMBA Electives are Covering Both Hot and Non-Traditional Topics

A scan of the course listings in the verbatim summary reads like a glossary of business terms – entrepreneurship, big data, brand management, supply chain, social media, ethics, etc. But not all elective courses being offered by EMBA Programs appear to be as traditional.

A review of MBA News Digest archived articles for the past two years and EMBAC’s quarterly newsletter identifies some of the more non-traditional courses. For example, the following four courses illustrate the lengths programs are going to develop courses that meet student needs, help differentiate their program, and provide flexibility for students.

Human-Machine Intelligence Course

The Kellogg School of Management’s Human-Machine Intelligence (HMI) course, which Kellogg offers to EMBA students on its Evanston campus, is a key part of the Kellogg Architectures of Collaboration Initiative (KACI). In the course, students are encouraged to confront important questions, says Adam Pah, course instructor: “How do people fit into this evolving space? What do our interactions look like? How do we manage this process when introducing machine learning?”

The HMI course focus helps faculty to prepare students in addressing three contributions machine learning or the ‘mind-plus-machine partnership’ can make for business, says Brian Uzzi, director of KACI. First, it can help people overcome previously unsolvable human biases in decision-making. Second, it can help extend human consciousness, or increase and improve awareness of tasks, themselves, and other people. And third, it enables significant increases in the scaling of human effort. Learn more by reading the article Kellogg prepares students for impact of human-machine intelligence.

Jesuit History and Leadership Culture

Fordham University students in this EMBA elective course on Jesuit Leadership, History, and Culture on El Camino Ignaciano retraced 71 miles of the trek that St. Ignatius made in 1522. During his travels, St. Ignatius experienced a profound spiritual enlightenment, which led to the formation of Jesuit religious order. The trip was part of a course designed to teach students how life experience, and the self-awareness it generates, are keys to becoming an effective leader. Learn more by reading the article Following in the Footsteps of St. Ignatius – Literally.

Strategy in Volatile and Uncertain Environments

Imperial College’s Business School is offering EMBA students an elective course in strategy. Students learn how to use the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity (VUCA) framework in strategic planning; manage downside risk and to benefit from the upsides; understand competitive landscapes; and learn about the pitfalls of strategic decision-making. Learn more by reading the article Imperial launches MBA elective on importance of strategy in business environments.

Transformation Field Project

Entegra technologies, Inc., (now Vericlave) and the Jindal School of Management’s EMBA Program formed a partnership for students to take part in a collaborative research project with the Vericlave executive team. Students focused on the fiduciary responsibility and liabilities of corporate boards of directors and their implications for Vericlave. Learn more by reading the article Entegra Technologies, Inc. Forms Partnership Initiative with The University of Texas at Dallas Jindal School of Management’s Executive MBA Program.

These four courses illustrate how EMBA Programs are adapting to the forces of change that are transforming graduate management education. Other EMBA Programs are doing equally innovative things. If your program is one of those, share what you have done by emailing me at

Published with permission of Rodney Alsup, MBA News Digest. Visit here for a free subscription to MBA News Digest.

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