Studying in a top-flight MBA program has been a lifelong dream of mine. After putting my plans on hold for several years due to personal reasons, I saw an opportunity to get started in 2018.

Hence around this time last year, I started researching the top business schools in the U.S. based on criteria that were important to me.

  • Team culture
  • Disruption to work schedule
  • Quality of curriculum
  • Quality of faculty
  • Alumni engagement
  • Affordability

This was mostly informal research done by gathering information posted by students and examining executive MBA rankings and reviews on sites such as Poets and Quants, U.S. News & World Report, GMAT Club, Forbes etc. When I reviewed the data after my research, Duke was one of the schools that kept popping up. What especially stood out for me was the emphasis on team culture (#TeamFuqua) and the school’s values.

However, what was a concern and unclear to me at that time was the amount of travel required and the disruption to my work schedule. I work for a leading gaming and hospitality company and live in the entertainment capital of the world—Las Vegas. Not exactly a short trip to Durham.

When I called the admissions office, what I heard from them essentially narrowed my choices to one school. They told me that starting in May 2018, the Weekend Executive MBA program would be making a significant format change. Students will be required to be physically present on campus just once a month for a Friday through Sunday residency as compared to once every two weeks as it had been in the past. Additionally, they’ll have the option of attending the classes on “Hybrid Saturdays”—which fall in-between the on-campus residency weekends—either in person or remotely via state of the art conferencing technology.

A spreadsheet next to a live view of the classroom during Hybrid Saturday classes, a new part of Fuqua's Weekend Executive MBA format
A screenshot of what the remote experience looked like for me during Managerial Accounting class

Hearing that I wouldn’t have to travel out of town every two weeks was huge. Also, the fact that Duke would be using the same technology to deliver the classes that I use in my job to work with teams across the world provided me assurance that I would receive the same immersive experience as those attending Hybrid Saturdays on campus.

This also told me that Fuqua is continuing to innovate and work on its product. The school values student (their market) feedback and is evolving with the times by leveraging the best of breed in technology.

Hence I applied, and after going through the process was accepted to the program. January 26, 2018, was when I received the call, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I’ve now been in the program for just over a month and have attended one weekend each on campus and remotely. Thus far the experience has been nothing short of exemplary.

So if you think that distance is a major factor when considering Duke, take a look at this new program format and see if it is a good fit for you. It works well for me!

A LinkedIn post from student Jordan Lewis of students sitting in a classroom during Hybrid Saturday classes, a new part of Fuqua's Weekend Executive MBA format
What the on-campus experience looked like for my classmates Jordan