Rotterdam Trims Its Program

To avoid repetitive content, the Rotterdam School of Management is reducing the length and coursework for its international MBA degree

Rotterdam School of Management, one of a handful of European business schools to offer a two-year MBA program, says it will reduce the length of its international MBA program to 15 months from 18 in October, 2002. The shortened MBA program cuts out vacation time, reduces the number of elective courses to 10 from 13, drops two weeks from the internship program, and adds technology-based courses to the start of the program to bring all of its students up to speed more efficiently.

The move is primarily the result of suggestions from students. After RSM administrators compared what its MBAs knew when they arrived at school -- the class of 2003 averages five years of work experience -- to what its faculty were teaching, the school concluded that some areas were repetitive. RSM Dean Kai Peters also says the changes are in anticipation of more competition in the European market for MBA programs. He says that's due to the European Union's attempts to set common standards for higher education. State-run universities could be prodded by the EU to separate their Bachelor's degree programs from Master's programs. "If you want to run a high-end post-experience MBA program, you've got to make sure that it's tight, and that there's no air in it," he says.


  Shorter programs have some drawbacks. Less time at B-school means that MBAs could have a difficult time using RSM to change careers, from marketing to finance, for example. It's also risky for the school's corporate relations, since recruiters prefer graduates who have both relevant work experience and have completed in-depth courses in their functional specialties. Peters says he isn't concerned: "If [the MBAs] want to do more courses, nothing is standing in their way from auditing [other classes]."

Less time in class doesn't make RSM's degree any cheaper -- in fact, the cost is rising. The shorter degree will cost about $27,200, compared to this year's $24,500 tuition. Peters says the school hasn't cut off much content and when both London Business School and INSEAD raised their tuition in recent years, people still enrolled. "Students [told us], 'If I can save two months in school, [higher tuition] doesn't bother me. And if you use the money well [on technology], it doesn't matter.'"

By Mica Schneider in New York