The Tepper School of Business is able to offer its students a very unique experience based on its small class size, borderless classrooms, and curriculum that is truly integrated with the other strong programs at Carnegie Mellon.

The recent $55 million gift from alumnus David Tepper is expected to pump even more energy into this business school’s recent push up the rankings.

Below is the four-page transcript of our interview with Laurie Stewart, Executive Director of Masters Admissions.

How do you typically call the MBA program? The Tepper MBA, Carnegie Mellon Tepper MBA…?

We, as you know, received a naming gift from Carnegie Mellon alumnus David Tepper this year in the amount of $55 million. The gift is being directed in numerous ways to support the educational environment, teaching, research, and infrastructure here at the school.  Our school name is the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon.  We refer to our degree as the Tepper MBA.

Tell us about the new campus opening in California this fall.

We have a campus located at Moffett Field in California’s Silicon Valley, and this year we will begin offering our MBA degree there.  We offer the MBA by having faculty in Pittsburgh give class via live video conferencing.  We call this the FlexMode MBA and have been offering this program since 1996. Students in the FlexMode MBA are sponsored by companies such as United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric.  The campus at Moffett Field is called Carnegie Mellon West and it will be the first time individual students can come in and earn the Tepper MBA degree via FlexMode.

So, students from Carnegie Mellon West attend class watching a professor teach an east coast class?

We have three studio classrooms on our Pittsburgh campus and a faculty member is teaching live to the distance learning students.  We have multiple locations that are all participating in the class at the same time.  It can be five or six different distant classrooms from Florida to California and it is all live.  The students can interact with one another or with the professor.  We have both administrative and technical support at each individual site.  The technology allows students to speak or to signal that they would like to ask a question.  It is really interesting to see the classroom in action.  Students can have case study teams using the video conferencing equipment or other forms of electronic communication outside of class.

Do you have an Executive MBA Program there?

We don’t.  We offer a single MBA degree with three different methods of delivery.  Our full-time MBA program based in Pittsburgh is the traditional two-year program with an internship between the two years.  Then we offer our part-time version to Pittsburgh students, which is called FlexTime, for students who come to class two nights a week, and complete their degree in three years by studying year round.  Then we have the FlexMode program which we have previously talked about and that is also three years, year round by taking two classes at a time. Again, with each format we offer the same MBA degree.  The same faculty members are teaching in all three programs.  We maintain the same requirements and curriculum throughout.

Could you provide more detail about your cross campus curriculum?

Carnegie Mellon as a university has a unique and wonderful combination of strengths on our campus.  We have colleges that are leading in areas like software engineering, computer science, engineering and fine arts.  We have always had flexibility for MBA students.  They could take some of their elective choices at some of the other colleges on campus.  One of the more popular electives here in the business school has been an acting course for MBAs taught by our drama department.  The acting course offers students an opportunity to improve their communication skills and stage presence, both speaking in front of an audience and in their one-on-one communication.

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