The Kellogg School of Management launched a new accelerated MBA that blends business with technology, and students can complete the program in a little over a year

  • A new joint degree from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering — the accelerated MBAi program — allows students to take core MBA classes with electives focused on tech and science.
  • The new curriculum will equip MBAi grads with the skills to be successful in a range of careers, including technical operations, product management, product marketing, consulting, and more. 
  • To be a competitive applicant, program director Eric Anderson suggested having four to six years of work experience, a technical background, or a STEM degree, as well as an interest in solving technical business challenges.
  • Demonstrate drive, teamwork, and impact in your video essay — an opportunity for Kellogg to virtually "meet" you.
  • The first round of applications closes on October 21, 2020.
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A new joint degree — the accelerated MBAi program — will now be offered through a partnership between the Kellogg School of Management, one of the best business schools in the US, and the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University. MBAi students will be able to leverage the full-time degree, which can be completed in a little over a year, to advance their careers and lead organizations and industries at the intersection of business, technology, and science. 

"Students earn an MBA with this rigorous curriculum, as they are taking all core MBA classes, in addition to focused tech electives," Eric Anderson, director of the MBAi program and Kellogg's Center for Global Marketing Practice, told Business Insider. "They will need 22 course credits to graduate."

According to Kellogg's website, MBAi graduates will be prepared for careers across industries in roles such as technical operations, product management, data analytics, product and digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship, innovation leadership, and consulting.

Last year, a quarter of Kellogg's graduating MBA class pursued jobs in the tech industry. The school created the MBAi in response to a need for MBAs who can spearhead strategic, business-driving innovation while understanding the complexities and nuances of the technologies that enable it.   

The MBAi program includes a built-in experiential summer quarter that provides students with an opportunity to gain work experience and engage with industry leaders while continuing to take classes through a full-time, 10-week internship. Students will complete the internship and take two academic credits toward their MBAi on evenings and weekends, concluding the quarter with an immersion experience in San Francisco, where students will engage in activities such as company on-site visits, industry networking events, and case competitions.   

What admissions is looking for

"Ultimately, we are focused on admitting the right people," Anderson said. "The size of the inaugural cohort will depend on the compatible candidates that apply." 

Kellogg's website states that you're eligible if you have "some combination" of three requirements: four to six years of work experience, technical work experience, and/or an undergraduate STEM degree or major. Anderson added that while the program is designed for students with these credentials, admissions doesn't expect you to already be an expert. 

"That's what the MBAi is for," he said, adding that prospective students should have a desire to solve nuanced business challenges evolving in technology.

He also noted that Kellogg values students who demonstrate the ability to galvanize a team, aren't afraid to take risks, and drive a lasting impact for their organizations and communities. 

On the application, the first two essay questions are the same as the existing full-time MBA application. A few parts of the application are specific to MBAi candidates, including a new third question and two new short-answer questions:  

  • The Kellogg McCormick MBAi program is designed to train the next generation of leaders who can help businesses deliver successful outcomes through AI-driven technology. This requires leaders who have both strong technical and business skills; many firms struggle to find leaders with these skills. Tell us about your firsthand experience with this disconnect between business and technology and how MBAi will prepare you to successfully lead businesses at the intersection.
  • There are a wide range of skills, applications and opportunities in technology, analytics and AI. We are seeking to build a diverse class. Tell us about your skills and interests in this domain. 
  • Rate yourself on your comfort/experience with programming and data, and elaborate on the rationale for your answer. (Ratings are provided in the application.)

One of the best ways for a candidate to express themselves and their interest in MBAi is through the video essay component, Anderson said. 

"This will allow the Kellogg team to 'meet' an applicant wherever they are in the world, learning more about their previous experience and why an MBAi will help them achieve their future goals in the technology and business space," he said. 

The MBAi curriculum includes the entire Kellogg MBA core curriculum as well as technical courses in machine learning, AI, data wrangling, robotics, and computational thinking for business. Students will also have opportunities to round out their degree with electives from both Kellogg and McCormick.

While AI and analytics hold "tremendous promise," Anderson said, most firms continue to struggle with delivering and scaling. 

"The failure rate of AI and analytics projects was 85% in 2017, according to Gartner, and it continues to be very high despite many advances in AI since then," he said. "Businesses need to adapt to reverse this trend. Organizations need new decision-making processes, new culture, and new organizational structures. And making these changes requires leaders with expertise in both business and technology."

Kellogg and the McCormick School of Engineering also offer a dual degree MMM program, in which students earn an MBA and an MS in design innovation after two years of study. 

The MBAi application is now live with a round one deadline of October 21, 2020. More information on the MBAi application can be seen here.

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