Margaret C. Andrews, Associate Dean for Management Programs
Q: What makes the management program at Harvard University Extension School unique?
A: There are several unique aspects of the program that provide a special experience for students. For starters, we’re part of Harvard University, which has a deep commitment to top-quality education. Next, we’re Harvard Extension School, which for a century has been “extending” Harvard to the community. We have always been focused on serving working professionals. And, increasingly, we’re serving a global community.
Our courses are offered in the evenings so that people can continue to work while studying, as well as apply what they’re learning in the classroom. Also, we are focused on management education, which has both a theoretical and practical approach, so we include both research faculty and practitioners in our faculty lineup. It’s a powerful combination.
Q: How is the Master of Liberal Arts different from a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?
A: The typical MBA program is offered by a business school, has a competitive admission process, is offered full time over two years, requires more courses for graduation, and has a student body that takes its classes together or in sequence for all or part of the program.
We’re quite different—we’re part of Harvard, but not as a business school. The management program is geared toward the needs of working adults in everything from the courses we offer to when we offer these courses, to our admission process. The courses are practical and applied, and are offered in the evening to accommodate busy schedules.
Our general management track is designed to give working professionals a solid underpinning in management theory and practice. Our coursework leads you through foundational topics in economics, accounting, finance, strategy, marketing, organizational behavior, and management. Electives allow you to structure the degree toward your individual goals and interests.
Q: Who would benefit most from the management program?
A: Our programs are geared toward working professionals who have the intellectual curiosity, drive, and persistence to integrate an intensive study schedule into their already busy lives. Students get a solid grounding in the foundational topics in management and are able to apply their learning to their professional lives rapidly. It’s not for the faint of heart though, since the courses are rigorous and challenging.
Our students tend to be intelligent, self-motivated, and accustomed to juggling multiple priorities with aplomb. It’s a self-selected group and one we’re proud to have in our program.
Q: Who teaches the courses?
A: We are fortunate to be able to draw excellent faculty from both academia and industry, so students have the benefit of learning from expert researchers and from those who have been “in the trenches.” They provide our students with insight into the latest management studies and practices, and use a mix of pedagogies—lectures, case discussions, group projects, problem sets, individual writing assignments, personal assessments, and many others—to maximize learning across disciplines.
Q: How can the management programs help students advance in their careers?
A: Harvard Extension School is highly regarded by employers for our wide variety of high-quality continuing education programs. The management program provides a solid foundation in the fundamentals of business management for working professionals. Many students use their degree to improve performance in an existing role or to signal to employers their interest in other areas—such as finance or marketing—or a new industry.
Q: What advice would you give to students considering the master’s degree?
A: It’s important to think about what you want to get out of the program, both in terms of the education you want, and how the experience fits into your career and your life. It’s a big commitment.
It’s also important for you to keep an open mind. It’s not uncommon for students to change their academic interests or careers based on a class they were required to take and found they loved. That’s the great thing about continuing education—it has the power to change the way you think, the course of your studies, and ultimately your life.
Q: As the director, what are your priorities for the program?
A: The world is changing rapidly. We must prepare our students both for what’s happening in business right now and for the ways it will evolve. We’re fortunate to have great instructors from academia and industry, so we’re well positioned to launch high-quality courses and programs in response to changing market needs. Our goal is to offer the best continuing management education.