The Master of Global Business Administration (GBA), Fletcher's newest degree program, will launch in May 2019.
Building upon Fletcher’s spirit of innovation and mission to educate leaders with a global perspective, the GBA meets the needs of highly talented, promising students whose circumstances preclude them from partaking in the traditional, in-residence graduate school experience. This digitally mediated program, which combines graduate-level study in business with international affairs, affords the opportunity to earn a degree using cutting-edge technology and production while remaining in the job market and without uprooting one’s life.
The School has a tradition of being a digital pioneer, and the GBA builds on that tradition. Nearly 20 years ago, Fletcher was a leader in technology-mediated education in launching the Global Master of Arts (GMAP). Ten years ago, with the launch of the Master of International Business (MIB) program, Fletcher led a new frontier in business education, preparing business leaders with contextual intelligence. Five years ago, the Digital Planet initiative, which studies how “digital innovation meets the world,” was created. Building upon this pioneering tradition, Fletcher is taking the next step to meet the needs of an entirely new population of students.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the structure of the program?
The Master of Global Business Administration (GBA) program is designed for intensive engagement and interactivity combined with flexibility. It can be completed in a period of time that could range from one-and-a-half years to three years, with the student setting the pace. Each course combines synchronous (live) sessions and asynchronous (recorded) content, all mediated through the latest innovations in digital technology. Students will interact directly with faculty and classmates during the live sessions and will be able to study the recorded sessions at their own pace. Recorded sessions are dynamic and utilize multi-media technology, interspersing short lectures of five to seven minutes with exercises, reflections, and guest lectures. Live sessions are designed around sections of 15-18 students and function much as a brick-and-mortar classroom session would; they include facilitated case discussions, Socratic method teaching, group work, Q&A periods, and simulations.
While GBA students will be globally dispersed, they will have a strong sense of community and connection to Fletcher. In addition to the intensity of digital inter-connections, the program will also have two in-person “immersions,” one at Fletcher and the second in an international location. The combination of modalities aims to create a rich Fletcher education, contextual learning and problem-solving with the creative techniques, data-driven innovations in teaching and learning and flexibility of digitally-mediated education.
- Why is Fletcher developing this program?
It has been almost 20 years since the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP) was launched and 10 years since the Master of International Business (MIB) was launched. In both instances, The Fletcher School was a pioneer: GMAP was the first of its kind in providing a hybrid program specifically designed for experienced professionals aspiring to pursue a master's degree in international affairs while working full-time; the MIB was the first of its kind in providing a business education that can be expected from a top one-year MBA program (an increasingly popular format offered by top business schools, such as INSEAD, London Business School, and Northwestern’s Kellogg School) integrated with a broad education in “contextual intelligence,” covering issues ranging from geopolitics, law, security studies, the environment, and global development, among others.
This is the perfect time for Fletcher to take a third pioneering step: to utilize the best of digital education technology to reach mid-career leaders in the business and social sectors that extends the School’s reach and impact beyond the students it currently serves, while building on the learnings of the earlier innovations.
- What are the key benefits to the school?
Extending Fletcher’s reach
The GBA program is in keeping with The Fletcher School’s mission to educate leaders with a global perspective. We have the opportunity to reach an audience of business and social/public sector professionals who will benefit deeply from “knowing the world” and combining it with knowledge of the world of business. By expanding their education into realms such as security studies, climate change, global political economy, international development, and international law, to name but a few, Fletcher (and, arguably, only Fletcher) can educate a new generation of business leaders with a truly interdisciplinary mindset and sharpen their contextual intelligence.
The digital modality allows us to reach an audience that, because of financial, personal, or professional constraints, is not able to take advantage of the classic Fletcher experience. GMAP addresses a portion of this audience that is more senior, has greater flexibility of time to attend longer residency programs, and is focused on international affairs. Many potential students who are “rising stars” in their respective organizations with aspirations for advancing in roles in international business have been unable to take advantage of a Fletcher education. With the GBA, we have the opportunity to meet their needs. We also anticipate a new cohort of alumni, many of whom will become future leaders in business and social organizations and have deep and wide impact on a global stage. The precedent of loyalty to Fletcher amongst GMAP alumni suggests we can anticipate a similar and larger group of GBA graduates with potential for international impact and strong ties to the School.
Increasing Fletcher’s ability to innovate in a digitally-mediated world
As higher education has come to offer ever more sophisticated digital programming, so has the reputation of digitally-mediated education evolved. Well-produced content delivered using sophisticated multimedia technology has the potential to offer a rich, nuanced, and engaging education that can potentially act as a parallel to the classic on-campus experiences. Fletcher can expand the content area covered by our digital education offerings through the GBA program. The multimedia content used for the GBA along with a variety of digital and data analysis technologies used for building awareness of the program can also be used to enhance the residential programs.
Partnership opportunity with a cutting-edge digital technology player
The GBA, which is offered in collaboration with 2U, a leading educational technology provider, presents a timely opportunity to complement Fletcher’s educational offerings. 2U offers deep expertise and a track record of success in particular areas of online program management, which covers a range of services from digital marketing to content production to digital learning technology. Fletcher’s due diligence suggests that 2U’s support is best-in-class, including a dedicated team providing recruiting, marketing, course production, and delivery support, as well as robust wrap-around student services, all done in partnership with a Fletcher team.
Providing opportunities for pedagogical innovation to faculty
The GBA program has been welcomed by Fletcher faculty members, many of whom will offer a course in the program. The early wave of courses will be developed by current Fletcher faculty including Laurent Jacque, Daniel Drezner, Michael Klein, Mihir Mankad, and Bhaskar Chakravorti, followed by others. These faculty members have expressed great interest in the prospect of experimenting with new ways to record, teach and deliver their lectures. The experience of other institutions with digital education programs has been that the faculty members are energized by engaging with new audiences and using innovative teaching methods. As indicated earlier, materials, techniques, and process learnings from the GBA will be available to benefit our on-campus students, executive education offerings, and GMAP programs.
- Will there be a face-to-face component?
- Two in-person immersions will be required to enhance learning, to reinforce a connection to Fletcher, and to establish a personal rapport amongst faculty, administrators, and students. One immersion will be held on campus and one will be in an international location. Both immersions will be designed to create an intensive yet time-limited experience – each is currently expected to last for three days – so that working professionals would not need to take significant time away from their jobs. Immersions would each earn one half credit.
- What will be the impact on Fletcher’s existing degree programs?
Evidence from the experiences of other universities that have implemented similar programs suggests that many aspects of the digital experience with 2U have a positive effect on legacy programs. Because 2U provides extensive digital marketing services, visibility of the school overall will increase, which is likely to result in increased applications to other programs. Additionally, 2U’s capabilities in the digital learning space would significantly benefit Fletcher and Tufts as a whole. The 2U partnership offers deep expertise in data analysis and digital learning. As a full-service, state-of-the-art technology partner, 2U will help create and update content that can be used in innovative approaches, such as “flipped classrooms,” and to supplement learning in residential programs.
- What is 2U?
2U is a publicly-traded, highly regarded and successful Online Program Management (OPM) company; it competes in the edu-tech Software-As-A-Service market and is arguably the best in its class. Our partnership with 2U will allow us to take advantage of each institution’s relative strengths: Fletcher’s renown and expertise in international affairs and the study of business in the global context and 2U’s strengths in digital marketing and high-quality online learning technology.
2U was founded ten years ago to focus on the growing digital education market. It has expanded its portfolio to more than 20 top-tier universities, including Harvard, Georgetown, Yale, Rice, Northwestern, and NYU. It has built a reputation for providing universities with deep support in the areas of digital marketing and student recruitment, course production and pedagogical development, student services, faculty support and course production, and technical support.
- What is the curricular structure?
The curriculum, like Fletcher’s Master of International Business, is a business degree that prepares students for global leadership; it combines a classic business education with the study of international affairs to help build the leader’s “contextual intelligence.” The foundation of the curriculum adheres to one of the School’s core educational principles: students receive an education across Fletcher’s three divisions: Economics and International Business; International Law and Organizations; and Diplomacy, History, and Politics. The program will include both required core courses and elective courses, the latter enabling students to focus studies around their own particular interests.
- Who will teach in the program?
- Core Fletcher faculty will act as the lead instructors for the courses. Lead instructors will be responsible for course development, syllabi, exams, and will present the asynchronous (recorded) content. Section instructors will lead live sessions of 15-18 students following the syllabus, curriculum, and coursework developed by the lead instructor. Section instructors can include both core and adjunct faculty, but lead instructors may choose to teach some sections and coordinate the section instructors for the courses they have developed as well. Section instructors will hold office hours, act as advisors, and, in coordination with the lead instructor, are generally the touchpoints for the students.
- What kind of students will the program attract?
The GBA program is designed to educate early- to mid-career professionals who wish to earn graduate business credentials and recognize the importance of international contextual knowledge to succeed in careers in international business. The program is also designed to educate leaders who wish to apply business principles in the public and social sectors, such as social enterprises, impact investing, and development banking. These students will become ambassadors for Fletcher’s approach to business pedagogy, structured around the concept of contextual intelligence. That is, that understanding legal, societal, political, and economic factors is as important to a complete business education as the more traditional business foundations in finance, strategy, and marketing. It is widely acknowledged among employers that such skills are sorely needed in 21st century organizations.
The admissions process will be modeled on that of Fletcher’s residential programs tailored for mid-career professionals, with stringent requirements to meet a high bar for quality.
- How has Fletcher prepared for the launch of this new degree?
The GBA program has been under consideration since mid-2017, and significant resources have been dedicated to conducting due diligence, meeting with key constituencies, and planning the program curriculum, staffing, budget, marketing, and services.
As a part of this planning process, the GBA development team has met extensively with and sought input from the School’s faculty, boards, and key Fletcher and Tufts University staff on a range of issues, such as legal, financial, technical, and curricular matters. Outside counsel has also been consulted on specific questions relating to the partnership arrangements between Fletcher and 2U. In addition, the Fletcher team met and spoke with many other Universities that have partnered with 2U to understand their experiences. All of these learnings have significantly impacted the GBA program plan.
- What are some of the key the risks, and how will Fletcher manage them?
Maintaining quality: As with any new program, Fletcher is committed to monitoring closely the quality of all GBA admitted students, classes, programming, and faculty. Fletcher maintains all responsibility for admissions decisions and will set appropriate admissions targets and qualifications to ensure the enrollment of high quality students from the outset. Fletcher will create a new advisory committee and also utilize existing governance and evaluation structures to ensure individual classes, the range of course offerings, and the selection of faculty meet Fletcher quality expectations.
Managing size: Because this program would represent an increase in the overall student body size, additional administrative staff and faculty are included in the budget to ensure the new program is well-supported.
Faculty load: There is sufficient funding for additional faculty and designing programmatic elements to maintain faculty work levels for those not participating in the program. This has been an explicit objective addressed as a part of the planning process.
Potential impact on Fletcher culture: We have established a set of guiding principles to ensure that Fletcher sensibilities and cultural norms will be at the center of decision-making.
Ensuring differentiation vis-à-vis existing programs: The GBA program is designed to grow the overall pool of Fletcher students and expand the School’s reach and relevance around the world. The “global” in both the GMAP and the GBA are meant to signify a new direction for the School: a growing portfolio of programs where the students attend Fletcher while they are globally located.