In the business world, building relationships is key to success. Many aspiring executives, entrepreneurs and others foster those all-important connections while sitting in lecture halls earning their full-time MBAs together. Yet working professionals who seek these valuable networking opportunities may feel left out if they study in part-time MBA programs on schedules that aren't synchronized with those of their classmates. But no more — DePaul is offering these students a new choice.
The Evening Cohort MBA offered through the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business is the newest addition to DePaul's MBA offerings. This accelerated MBA cohort experience offers working professionals a structured class schedule, as well as the opportunity to learn as a unit because students in the program start and finish the accelerated program as a group. This class structure allows working professionals to receive the full-time MBA experience after traditional work hours.
Kellstadt officials say the program is a win-win for working professionals.
"There are many working professionals who want the additional experiences of a full-time MBA program but they do not want to give up their current jobs," says James Parker, Kellstadt's director of recruitment and admission. "We wanted to meet that need and offer a program that would provide those mid-career professionals an opportunity to enjoy a cohort experience, expand their professional networks and enhance their leadership skills."
Parker says the Evening Cohort MBA is strategically planned around networking and building relationships. In addition to taking the same classes, at the same time and graduating together, candidates also will do a group consulting project for a nonprofit, as well as take an international study trip together to explore international business and meet with global executives.
"We know that people with extensive work experience are at a different place than the traditional MBA applicant," Parker said. "So this program is designed for them."
This continuity within an after-work MBA program was very attractive to Alexandra Eesley, a marketing manager based in Chicago.
"I loved the idea of staying with one group throughout the program," Eesley said. "I think building relationships is such an important part of business and development, and the evening cohort helps MBA students do that. I also was attracted to a curriculum tailored toward leadership, as I think understanding how to be a good leader is a key stepping stone to success."
In addition to the cohort experience, Parker says the MBA curriculum is distinctive because it is customized around leadership skills that candidates will be able to use right away within their companies. These skills also will prepare them for senior leadership positions in the future. Plus, the program helps enrollees expand their networks through roundtable discussions with some of Chicago’s leading executives.
That's exactly what Jon Elhardt was looking for when he applied for DePaul's Evening Cohort MBA program.
"Just looking at the course schedule I can see that this is exactly what I want to be doing, which is fun because the courses are all on topics that I'm interested in," says Elhardt, a sales manager and training coordinator at Acquirent, a sales force outsourcing firm. "I'm thrilled about the access to leadership roundtables and the executive connection. Without this program, I'm not sure how I would have access to some of these people or companies through traditional networking channels."
The combination of an evening cohort experience with a curriculum focused on executive leadership skills makes DePaul's new Evening Cohort MBA option a unique choice in the Chicago area, says Parker.
"We really want this program to allow working professionals to show their leadership potential," Parker says. "It will help them showcase those skills as well as help them build a life-long network of professional and personal with each other."
Learn more about the DePaul MBA here.