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Continuing Education for MBAs

The Wall Street Journal this week highlighted continuing education programs at Northwestern and York universities for workers with MBA degrees. Designed for mid-career associates who earned MBA degrees before 1995, the so-called Renaissance program at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management seeks to bring managers up to speed on advances in their field. The program at York's Schulich School of Business helps students update their business skills and gain more in-depth knowledge in a specific discipline.

Such programs beg the question: Should highly degreed individuals, such as those with MBAs, continue their education?

Of course they should.

To stay current with an industry (and a world) that seems to morph from one week to the next, managers with MBAs need to pursue continuing education programs such as those at Northwestern and York.

There's nary an industry where continuing education doesn't apply. From IT to healthcare to writing, most fields are experiencing rapid advances and changes. No matter how many degrees you have or how sterling the institution you attended, you're never too old or too wise to learn and improve your craft. I learned this while covering higher education for four years; my own career experiences also have shown that to be true.

There's no set formula for continuing education. It's rather a mix of formal programs, refresher courses and workshops and conferences, as well as less formal activities like reading publications and Web sites about your industry and networking. It's the savvy worker bee--whether MBA, IT consultant, doctor, architect or otherwise--who constantly cuts his teeth on new information and weaves it into his workaday world.

Kellogg's Renaissance Program

According to the Wall Street Journal article:

Kellogg's Renaissance program will evolve to keep pace with business trends and the latest academic research. For example, a lesson on health care's impact on companies will be added to the curriculum for the second Renaissance class. "We are attracting a very global group of students who want to hear the most cutting-edge stuff," says Brenda Ellington Booth, the academic director for executive programs at Kellogg.

For Brett Farrell, program-delivery director at SAP America's consulting services business, the Renaissance program was especially beneficial in its lessons about managing a service operation, protecting "intellectual capital" and taking a customer-focused approach to leading teams. "When I got my M.B.A. a decade ago, the focus was much more on manufacturing than on services," he says. "I really needed to revisit some of the evolving thinking about business concepts and procedures." ...

Kellogg expects its next class to grow to about 25 students as awareness of the Renaissance program builds. "We were worried that the number of people with M.B.A. degrees is growing fast, but relatively few M.B.A. graduates take executive-education courses," says Eric Fridman, marketing director for executive education. "From a marketing standpoint, we needed a program that was tailored just for people with an M.B.A. But we want to be selective in whom we admit and be sure we attract people with diverse backgrounds to make the Renaissance program a dynamic learning experience."

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