If you’re an experienced professional, chances are pretty high that you’re not interested in a traditional MBA. But, at the same time, you might be looking to go back to school to solidify your existing knowledge base and to learn new skills as you move into the second stage of your professional career.
That’s where the Sloan Fellows Program comes into the picture. Designed specifically with mid- and senior-career business professionals in mind, the Sloan Fellows Program is a solid option for anyone looking to develop as a leader in their field. Unlike an EMBA, though, the Sloan Fellows Program doesn’t ask you to try and split your time between your studies and your work.
That being said, is the Sloan Fellows program right for you? Coming up, I’ll walk you through the basics of the program and give you some background on my experience as a Sloan Fellow at London Business School (LBS) so you can decide if it’s a good program for your needs.
What Is The Sloan Fellows Program?
Sloan Fellows is an academic program that gives mid- and senior-career professionals the ability to get a master’s degree in management and leadership. The program got its start in 1930 thanks to a grant from Alfred P. Sloan to his alma mater, MIT.
Sloan was the CEO of General Motors for almost 20 years and he wanted to create a program that could develop the “ideal manager.” The program was originally only offered at MIT as a way to give a general management education to experienced business professionals. In 1957, the program expanded to Stanford and in 1968, London Business School (LBS) was also added to the program.
Although they’re all referred to as “Sloan Fellows Programs” each of the schools in the program offer different academic options that have a separate application process. Here’s what you need to know:
LBS Sloan Fellows Program
The LBS Sloan Fellows Masters in Leadership and Strategy is a 12-month, full-time, graduate education for senior business executives. Most students come into the program with an average of 18 years of professional experience and are looking for ways to become a leader in the global business market.
The program provides a comprehensive and personalized learning experience over three academic terms. It has three core themes – Leadership, Strategy, and Business Fundamentals – as well as a handful of electives and a “Global Business Assignment.”
At LBS, the Sloan Fellows program involves 10 core courses that provide essential knowledge for all business executives. Students also get to choose a number of electives to customize their coursework to their interests. Additionally, Sloan Fellows work on a business project to see how they can apply their learning to their professional lives.
Applying for the LBS Sloan Fellows Program is much like applying for any graduate program. Prospective students need to submit an online application along with their CV, academic documents, essays, references, and GMAT/GRE scores (can be waived). However, the focus of the Sloan Fellows program admissions process is more on professional experience rather than previous academic success.
Stanford Sloan Fellows Program
The Stanford MSx is a Sloan Fellows 12-month full-time accelerated masters’ program for mid-career business professionals that want to advance their career through education. On average, students in the Stanford MSx program have almost 13 years of professional experience.
Like the LBS Sloan Program, the Stanford MSx has a core curriculum of business fundamentals that students then customize using individually-chosen electives. Most students come to the Stanford MSx program looking to build confidence in their skill set, to set goals, and to further their professional trajectory.
During their four terms, students in the MSx take 11 required courses, a minimum of 13 electives, and take part in a variety of leadership activities. Students can also choose to follow one of three popular curriculum paths in entrepreneurship, career advancement, and career change.
Applications to the Stanford MSx require an online form, a CV, references, personal essays, and the GMAT/GRE. The application process for the Stanford MSx takes into account a person’s entire background, focusing more on finding someone who will excel in the program rather than someone who has particularly high test scores.
MIT Sloan Fellows Program
The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is a 12-month full-time master’s degree in business designed for mid-career business leaders with a lot of potential. MIT gives Sloan Fellows the option between an MBA, MS in Management of Technology, and an MS in Management.
MIT’s program is the largest out of the three with twice as many students (an average of 100+) as both LBS and Stanford. Students in MIT’s Sloan Fellows Program have an average of 14 years of work experience and they come to MIT for a globally-centric project-based learning experience.
The program runs for three full terms and one short winter term. It involves 12 core courses, a handful of electives, independent research activities, and building relationships with senior executives and entrepreneurs around the world.
Applying to the MIT Sloan Fellows program involves an online application with references, essays, GMAT/GRE scores, and personal essays. MIT also requires that applicants have an undergraduate degree with at least 10 years of paid, relevant, full-time work experience.
My Time As A Sloan Fellow
I personally attended LBS’ Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy in 2010. I chose to attend LBS partially because of the location – I love London and had worked there for a few years at the start of my career.
Ultimately, I found that the LBS program was a great fit for me and my experience level as it is geared toward senior-level managers. This differentiates LBS’s program from MIT and Stanford’s, which are more for mid-career professionals. My cohort included a great group of 53 classmates with an average age of about 40 that hailed from about 20 different countries.
I personally found the entire program to be incredibly valuable. Since it is designed for senior executives, it matched perfectly with my professional situation, unlike some other programs that cater to a wide range of experience levels.
During my time as a student in the program, I was also working part-time for my company in the midst of the Great Recession. While the Sloan Fellows Program is designed to be full-time, I found that continuing my work on a part-time basis actually made it easier for me to translate my learning back to my company.
Throughout the course, I frequently worked on course projects with my company’s unique situation in mind. Doing so also allowed me to solicit feedback and advice from my professors and the rest of the class that was directly relevant to my work.
What I Learned From The Sloan Fellows Program
My time in the Sloan Fellows Program was a fantastic experience. Here are some of the main things that I learned from LBS’ Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy:
Sloan Fellows Faculty
It would be an understatement to say that the faculty at the Sloan Fellows Program are fantastic. In reality, the faculty in the program are at the top of their game, which made them highly valuable and influential educators for such a motivated student group. For me, there were three professors who really stood out:
One of the most influential professors that I had was Jessica Spungin. Jessica was a former McKinsey Partner and, as my thesis advisor, she helped me develop a new way of thinking about growth strategies for professional service firms. Her influence changed the way I approach growth, in general, which made a difference when I returned home to my business.
Another professor that made a significant impact on me was Richard Jolly. Richard’s courses focused on personal leadership and organizational behavior. I looked forward to his classes each week and I’d say that his readings were enlightening. This was really important for both me and my course mates as he helped open our eyes to the importance of emotional intelligence, whether you’re negotiating or looking to institute change in your organization.
Perhaps most influential professor for me was Dan Cable, a great professor focusing on the people side of organizations. What I learned from just Dan’s classes alone justified the entire LBS tuition.
Sloan Fellows Location
The Sloan Fellows program is based out of three universities – Stanford, MIT, and LBS. But, the location of LBS in London is particularly valuable. Situated in Regents Park, London, LBS is right in the center of one of the best cities in the world for studying business.
Besides being a fantastic city to live and explore, London’s status as a center of global commerce made it easier to develop professionally when not in class. The sheer number of connections you can make in the city by networking and reaching out to other professionals in the area can make a big difference in your career moving forward.
Sloan Fellows Class Format
Classes in the Sloan Fellows Program are anything but cookie-cutter. The program eschews lecture-style courses in favor of interactive, experiential, and discussion-based learning.
While the program does involve a lot of class time, the Sloan Fellows focus on mastery of fundamental concepts and transferability to your professional life, rather than rote memorization, is what makes it so valuable.
As part of the program, we even did a remote course in Shanghai on the future of the Chinese Economy. This opportunity to work directly with LBS and Sloan Fellows alumni in China truly helped broaden my understanding of the topic. These experiential courses gave me the opportunity to truly immerse myself in the subject matter – something that’s just not possible to do if you’re just reading out of a textbook.
Sloan Fellows Cohort
One of the most valuable aspects of the Sloan Fellows Program at LBS is the diversity of the students in each cohort and the global perspective that this affords. Since many of the classes were discussion-based, it was enlightening to see how people from different cultures look at problems in such unique ways.
The program demonstrated that since our cultures are so heavily nuanced, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works in business. This is a realization that’s difficult to arrive at without being immersed in a diverse cohort of highly talented individuals. Indeed, the global perspective that students bring to Sloan Fellows is one of the program’s biggest assets.
Sloan Fellows Global Perspective
The Sloan Fellows Program gives students a unique chance to broaden their perspectives to a global level. But this is not something that’s done through a single class or a project. Rather, it’s a result of the structure of the whole program.
From the diversity of the student body, to the emphasis on building partnerships with other schools, the Sloan Fellows Program helps provide business leaders with the tools they need to be successful on a global stage. LBS’ location in London also helped provide us with a diversity of perspectives, thanks to the many business and political leaders that gave presentations and had lunch with us throughout the program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are my answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about the Sloan Fellows Program:
How Does Sloan Help You?
First things first, the Sloan Fellows Program is not designed to get you a job at McKinsey or an investment bank. The program is designed to make you better at your current job.
Sloan Fellows helps mid- and senior-career professionals master fundamental business concepts. It also provides students with the skills they need to become a better manager or leader. Additionally, the program can help you change industries, locations, or job function, but it’s not going to help you do all three at once.
Should I Take The Sloan Fellows Program?
If you’re looking for tools to build and lead a great company, the Sloan Fellows Program should definitely be high on your list. But, keep in mind that the program is specifically for people who have significant experience working in business (at least 10+ years).
I personally think if you want to be an entrepreneur, the Sloan Fellows program is a perfect way to get the skills you need to be a great entrepreneur.
The downside is that this is a full-time commitment, which means you have to take time off of work, and lose salary for a year. If you’d rather take a program that is better able to accommodate you as a working professional, the HBS PLD program is a great alternative.
What Is A Sloan Fellow?
A Sloan Fellow is anyone that takes one of the Sloan Fellows Programs at MIT, LBS, or Stanford. Although they have similar names, the Sloan Fellows Program is different from Sloan Fellowships, which provides research funding and opportunities to promising young academics in science, math, technology, engineering, and economics.
Both Sloan Fellows and Sloan Fellowships were started by Alfred P. Sloan, the longtime chairman of General Motors. Sloan Fellows is a masters’ degree program designed to help experienced business professionals become leaders in their industry. Meanwhile, the Sloan Fellowship is for early-career higher education faculty that want to do cutting-edge research.
How Much Money Do Sloan Fellows Make?
This is actually quite a difficult question to answer as Sloan Fellows hail from all over the world, so cost of living standards and salaries vary drastically. However, most students in the program are already mid- or senior-level executives that are well compensated.
That being said, completing the program isn’t necessarily going to earn you a major salary bump, like what you’d expect after taking an MBA program, which comes earlier in your career. Instead, the majority of the value of the Sloan Fellows Program is that it helps you be more effective at your job, and in many cases, my classmates became entrepreneurs after the program.
Ideally, students in the Sloan Fellows Program have an equity stake in their company, so improving their skills can help increase the overall value of their organization. In fact, many of my course mates ended up founding their own companies or becoming partners in other consulting firms.
How Are Sloan Fellows Selected?
Sloan Fellows are selected through the application process for the Sloan masters’ program at the institution of their choice, either LBS, MIT, or Stanford. The process is very similar to applying to any graduate program, though the schools generally place more emphasis on experience and growth potential than on previous academic success.
A strong GMAT score is important, and most classmates had a GMAT above 700, though that high GMAT is not a requirement, as many of my classmates had English as a second language, and LBS adjusts GMAT expectations for language.
How Is Sloan Fellows Different From An MBA/EMBA Program?
Sloan Fellows is very different from a traditional MBA or EMBA program. The Sloan Fellows program is focused on helping you solve the problems that senior leaders face, since Sloan is meant for mid- and senior-level professionals with over a decade of work experience. MBA programs, on the other hand, are meant for people looking to take the next step in the business world.
Additionally, EMBA programs try to balance academics with work, but often fail to give students enough time to truly focus on either of these things. Indeed, the Sloan Fellows Program is one of the few in the world that provides a full-time education directly targeted at experienced professionals in their 30s and 40s.
Plus, the Sloan Fellows Programs usually have much smaller class sizes and very experienced tenured faculty, so the courses are much more interactive. These programs often involve trips to major business centers and exchange programs with other top-tier universities to create a comprehensive educational experience.
Basically, if you’re looking to get started in business, a traditional MBA is probably your best bet. If you don’t want to take a year off of work but you have a lot of experience, an EMBA might be a good option. But, if you have a lot of experience and want a truly immersive and top-notch education program that can help you advance your career, Sloan Fellows might be right for you.