Every other Thursday for the past 15 months, Charles Cooper-Driver flew from London to Philadelphia. Another business trip? Hardly. He was going to school, attending the executive MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "The travel time is not that bad," says the managing director of a London-based marketing communications firm. "You get very used to functioning under jet lag, and you can get a lot of studying done on the plane."
Although Cooper-Driver was good-natured about his commute, he would have had an easier time if he had stayed closer to home. Problem is, there are few quality executive MBA programs available outside the U.S. But that may change as more schools export the EMBA concept.
CHICAGO TEST. The degree--typically sought by executives with 10 or more years of experience--is cropping up from Barcelona to Rotterdam to Taiwan, as U.S. schools team up with foreign universities. The University of Rochester's Simon Graduate School offers an EMBA with Erasmus University in Rotterdam, and Tulane University's Freeman School of Business boasts a joint program with National Taiwan University.
One school is about to take the plunge without any help from foreign partners. The University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business will transplant its successful EMBA program to Barcelona next year. "It will be like IBM setting up a European subsidiary," says Dean Robert S. Hamada. "We will make it feasible for executives to fly in from all over Europe, stay a week or two, and then go back to their offices."
Whether they go it alone or use a partner, more U.S. schools may follow. "If Chicago is successful, it's going to be irresistible for other major U.S. business schools to come into that market," says Richard Kwartler, publisher of the Executive MBA Newsletter. Already, Duke University's Fuqua School of Business is considering a program in Russia, where it has offered a nondegree program since September. The University of Michigan has begun an EMBA-like program in Hong Kong for Cathay Pacific Airways managers. Wharton may link up with the London Business School to offer an
exchange program for EMBAs.
The reason? "We are all striving to increase our international visibility, enhance international faculty development--and everybody is looking for attractive financial opportunities," says B. Joseph White, dean of Michigan's Graduate School of Business. There's growing demand abroad for such programs because managers who live in Europe don't have to quit their jobs to get the degree.
The most ambitious effort abroad comes from Chicago, which in 1943 became the first B-school to offer an EMBA. Before deciding on Barcelona, Chicago hired two consulting firms to do market research and interviewed executives at nearly 180 European companies. Barcelona offered easy airport access, and it's an attractive city to visit. It helped that a Spanish bank holding company donated a building.
Chicago hopes to attract 80 foreign managers a year to the program, which will last about 17 months, with 14 weeks of instruction in one- and two-week blocks. The program will be taught by Chicago's faculty. One benefit of the program, Dean Hamada hopes, will be plenty of cross-fertilization. He expects professors who teach in Barcelona to research international business problems and bring their European experiences back to their home classrooms. Hamada also plans to mix his EMBA students together. The European executives will fly to the U.S. for a two-week stint in the Windy City, while Chicago's EMBA candidates will go to Barcelona for a two-week stay there.
More typical are the programs offered in partnership with local schools. Rochester's Simon School has offered an EMBA with Erasmus in Rotterdam since 1986. About one-third of its EMBA classes abroad are taught by Erasmus faculty in an 18-month-long program. Students attend classes on Fridays at Erasmus and spend nine weeks of summer in Rochester for intensive training.
Similarly, Tulane's Freeman School ships professors to Taiwan twice over the course of a 15-month program with National Taiwan University. Executive students in the program, which began last January, travel to New Orleans to begin and end their studies. If U.S. B-schools continue transcending national boundaries, then managers such as Cooper-Driver won't have to suffer jet lag to earn a quality executive MBA.