Two of Connecticut's executive masters in business administration programs — at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and University of New Haven — are bringing in new classes with revamped curricula to meet new student and employer demands.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's EMBA program moved to Hartford in 2011, after graduating 23 classes at its Troy, N.Y. campus. Along with the move, RPI's program has undergone a curriculum update which focuses on individual development and the preparation it takes to lead in a global business environment, said David Rainey, acting dean at RPI's School of Management & Technology.
"Business has changed and using decades-old textbooks cannot make effective executives anymore," said Rainey. "Programs need to look forward not back. Increasingly, business is going to be done and dominated abroad; old curriculum didn't prepare executives to effectively deal in a global business environment."
Rainey pointed to his experience as chief executive officer of a U.S. subsidiary of Swedish company Alfa Laval AB, and other global executive experience of RPI's faculty as a major advantage to students in the restructured program, which focuses heavily on personalized growth.
The faculty holds simulated board meetings and other real-world scenarios that work to improve social and multi-cultural awareness. Titled the "Executive Finishing School," this portion of the program develops and hones skills that cannot be learned in a book, said Rainey.
Participants are also paired with alumni mentors, who hold executive positions, and receive a specific development plan catered to their own needs. The individualized process allows students to acknowledge and improve any of their personal weaknesses, said Rainey.
"Other executive programs tend to only focus on and further develop a student's strengths, though most often it is ignored weaknesses which limit an executive's potential," said Rainey. "Many programs take what someone is especially good at, like marketing or accounting, and run with it. We try to develop expertise in all areas."
The tuition for RPI's EMBA program is $92,480 for the entire 20 months. The University of New Haven's tuition for its EMBA program is $52,000 for 22 months.
The University of New Haven, which has offered an EMBA for the past 35 years, spent from 2009 to 2011 restructuring its EMBA program in order to be more relevant and responsive to the companies that were sponsoring executives in their programs, said Victoria Dolceamore, UNH's executive director of graduate business programs.
"Students work on real-world research projects — often involving their own companies — to apply what they are learning in the classroom directly to the business world," said Dolceamore. "In addition, a lot of learning takes place in the classroom with shared expertise and conversations about current issues and challenges students are facing in their respective companies."
This relevant format is part of what sets the program apart, and also how participants are assessed, Dolceamore said.
"The students are measured and graded by their ability to synergize the content and apply it to their work," she said.
The restructuring also took place because faculty wanted to enhance the in-classroom experience with a focus on leadership and teamwork.
"There is a synergy across modules rather than the silo approach to learning," Dolceamore said.
Another draw to the UNH program is its convenient schedule, she said. New Haven's program is 22-months long and meets every three weeks on Fridays 2:30 to 10:30 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 pm.
RPI's program runs for approximately 20 months, and includes a summer break for the months of June, July, and August.
Each program has begun recruiting students to join the second class of their restructured programs.