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Meet International High Flyers On The Duke Cross Continent MBA!

Your classmates on this 16-month global MBA from the Fuqua School of Business are working for leading firms across the world.

By  Maria Ahmed

Wed Mar 28 2012

If you want to be an international business mover and shaker, network with people from top global firms and study in five cities around the world, all without leaving your job, the Duke Cross Continent MBA can certainly help!

The program is designed to allow full-time working professionals earn a world-class MBA in 16 months, and to build a “culturally-diverse peer network across the globe”.

It’s delivered through a mixture of online distance learning and residencies in each of Dubai, New Delhi, St. Petersburg, Shanghai/Kunshan, and Fuqua’s home campus in Durham, North Carolina. You need to be able to deal with jet lag!

So who exactly are the energetic, globe-trotting MBAs you’ll meet on the program? We caught up with Alexis Mellon, Fuqua’s Regional Director, and Stephanie Brookes, who is in charge of Admissions in Europe to find out.

Mellon sums the Cross Continent MBAs as “entrepreneurial in spirit and go-getting”. They are young (the average age is 29), “high potential” professionals who are keen to differentiate themselves by earning an MBA, and who have the drive and energy to take up the challenge while holding down a full-time job.

These are people who don’t want to sacrifice their job – which they usually love - or their MBA, and many of them have kids as well!

One Chinese student on last year’s program became the father of twins three days before the classes started. Luckily both his and his wife’s parents were on hand to help take care of them while he jetted off to London for the first residency.

Brookes describes them as hyperactive types who get their class work done, hit up the local bars and have “t-shirts printed with all their names” within hours of landing in a foreign city.

The fact that the 160 students on the Cross Continent MBA are all in work means it is a great networking opportunity. Your classmates can give you immediate introductions, all-important insider gossip and hiring information from their employers.

Each year several people change their job while on the program, and are often helped by one or more of their peers - it’s one of the major benefits of this particular MBA vis a vis the traditional Full-Time and Executive MBAs.

Cross Continent MBA alumni also find it easier to stay in touch, says Mellon, because they’re used to communicating online.

The same faculty who teach on Fuqua’s full-time MBA teach on the Cross Continent MBA, flying out to the different residencies. However, the content of the program of course draws on the locations in which is it taught. There are two “multi-term” core courses that are taught in more than one city, and help students “connect the dots” on the global business map, says Mellon.

One is Global Markets and Institutions and the other is Culture, Civilization and Leadership, taught by Fuqua’s star Practice Professor Tony O’Driscoll. The latter, in particular, takes a lot of students by surprise.

“It’s not obviously ‘business school-y’,” says Mellon. “It isn’t quantitative. It’s about how you adjust to work in different cultures in different parts of the world.” Students are sent on assignments to gather video interviews with people on the streets of St Petersburg and Delhi, well out of the comfort zone of the corporate meeting room!

The Cross Continent MBA is a major commitment. The 2012/13 program kicks off at the end of July with two weeks of prep and then a two-week residency at the Fuqua campus in Durham, North Carolina. It’s followed by eight weeks of distance learning, and then a one week break.

The second residency takes place in October in Shanghai, China, followed by Dubai, New Delhi, and St Petersburg. The final residency is in Durham in September 2013, for a two-week session known as “super term”, when all of Fuqua’s MBAs (Cross Continent, Global Executive, Weekend Executive and Day-time) are on campus together.

The program concludes in December 2013, though there is an optional seventh term in which you can study a particular concentration.

All students on the Cross Continent MBA need a letter of support from their employer. If you miss any of the residencies, for example due to work responsibilities or illness, you will have to pull out of the program and reinsert yourself at the same point the following year.
The total cost of the program is $127,900, which covers tuition and all accommodation on the residencies, but does not include flights.