Kellogg Overhaul Will Shrink MBA, Revise Curriculum

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on February 6, 2012

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management today will be announcing a new strategic plan for the highly ranked b-school that includes some of the most sweeping changes since the school was founded more than a century ago.

Many details are not yet available, but here’s what we know based on an interview with Kellogg Dean Sally Blount, who took the position in July 2010 and for nine months has been developing, in conjunction with faculty, a strategic plan designed to take the venerable institution into the 21st century. We’ll update this post with a link to the announcement as soon as one becomes available.

The changes Blount has in store for Kellogg are premised on her belief that the world has shifted in fundamental ways that make “business as usual” no longer tenable for b-schools. World events, including the global economic crisis and the Lehman Brothers collapse, have changed the market for the traditional MBA, and not for the better, she says.

“Demand for the two-year MBA is slowing. One-year and alternative masters degrees are a reality. And people in their 20s are going to live so much longer than their grandparents, yet they perceive they have so little time for education,” Blount said. “The world has changed and we’re never going back. Our goal is to truly internalize that.”

So what does Blount have in mind? Nothing less than a radical overhaul:

• The size of Kellogg's highly regarded two-year, full-time MBA program will shrink by as much as 25 percent over the next three to four years--from 1,115 students to about 850--and enrollment in the executive MBA program would also come down. At the same time, the size of the one-year MBA program will double or triple, from 80 students to as many as 240.

• New, one-year master's degrees will be added to the Kellogg portfolio. These would be alternatives to the MBA. One such degree that the b-school is considering is a fifth-year master of science degree for undergraduates.

• The entire Kellogg MBA curriculum and research program will come in for a major overhaul, its first since 2002-03 and its deepest in nearly 30 years. It will be structured around four areas: markets, customers, and growth; "architectures of collaboration," or managing relationships with suppliers and customers through the use of technology; innovation and entrepreneurship; and the role of public policy in private enterprise.

• New, short-term certification programs will be established in international locations, including Sao Paulo and Shanghai. The non-degree programs, which lack the academic heft of an actual degree, will allow students to earn a Kellogg certificate for taking a group of courses on a specific topic. Faculty will be reviewing this idea in coming months.

Blount sees the new Kellogg as better suited to what she calls the "collaboration economy," one where value is created through "immense, dense human connection" facilitated by technology. It's a bold move, but will it fly? Stay tuned.

Reader Comments


February 6, 2012 8:11 AM

A very well written article. A good inspiration for my recently launched website Thank you Mr. Louis. Applauds for this article.

Ken Watson

February 6, 2012 9:39 AM

As Kellogg alum, I welcome the changes ... Paraphrasing Charles Darwin, "Not the strongest of the species that survive and not the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change ...". Thanks for the insight Louis Lavelle

byron rambo

February 6, 2012 1:30 PM

it's about time. i would go to brazil for a certificate if it would enhance my ability to understand and participate in the brazilian or south american markets better!

i will watch for this opportunity.

Kellogg Grad, FT2010

February 6, 2012 4:13 PM

Having lived the Kellogg life for 2yrs in the FT-MBA program, I take this news with conflicting opinions. On one hand, I understand the need to expedite the degree offering, so this could be a change or die for Kellogg. On the other, the expanded 1Y MBAs class will take away from the Kellogg cohesive and loyal culture, forged over the two years of living and breathing the "Kellogg Matter". I think that with 2:1 ratio of FT to 1Y we will see 2 cultures emerge, jeopardizing the collegial spirit at Kellogg, making it a school with less of an identity. Think hard Sally Blount, think hard before you do this, or else...

MBA Finance

February 6, 2012 11:10 PM

Yes I agree that 2 year MBA demand is decreasing among students. They are opting for 1 year studies.

Kellogg Grad, FT 1Y 2011

February 7, 2012 11:16 AM

Having recently graduated from Kellogg I welcome Sally Blount's vision. Kellogg's One Year (1Y) MBA program fulfills an ever increasing need in the marketplace, by tailoring its offering to individuals who have business backgrounds and are looking to rejoin the industry they were working in. Kellogg's comprehensive interviewing process (which works the same way for 1Ys and 2Y MBAs) ensures that the culture of the school is preserved. By offering an elite 1Y program in the US, Kellogg can boost its overall brand.


February 7, 2012 12:38 PM

The Dean's motivations are revenues, which are a bad idea. I think her focus should be regaining the No.1 spot in 2Y MBA before any of these experiments. I mean, professors are leaving the school in droves and all she thinks of are initiatives like this.

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