Sloan Fellows Program Review: MIT vs LBS vs Stanford – MBA after 30

Q: What would you do to make a positive global impact in the latter half your career?
A: Turn to a program that peaks my innovation and makes me a future leader.

Sloan Fellows is such a program, a Master’s designed to push the potential of high achieving, deeply motivated, mid-career professionals, with over 10 years of work experience.

Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General), Sir Howard Davies (an Economist and the Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland), Sir John Southwood Jennings (former Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading and Chancellor of Loughborough University), Carly Florina (former CEO of Hewlett-Packard), Lord John Browne ( Chairman of BP and Member of the British House of Lords) and a multitude of other movers and shakers have been Sloan Fellows before venturing into the world, doing great works with massive business and social influence.

The Sloan Fellows Program originated at MIT, in the 1930s, as the MIT Sponsored Fellowship Program, after the then General Motors Chairman, Alfred P. Sloan, and his foundation, granted MIT the funds to begin a well-regimented management training curriculum for gifted engineers.

It was later renamed the MIT Sloan Fellows Program and expanded to include a Sloan Master’s at Stanford and London Business School by the late 1960s. In 2014, Stanford GSB rebranded its Sloan Fellows Program and changed its name to Stanford MSx Program (Read Stanford MSx Review), while the program at LBS is called the LBS Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy. Each is a rigorous year-long immersive and residential degree. There is no internship and no placement assistance, since many are company sponsored students. Any job hunting you do will have to be your own initiative.

Goals of the Sloan Fellows Program

Sloan Fellows are an elite group of individuals with outstanding accomplishments in their 10+ years of work experience, and have clear career accomplishment goals for the future. In some sense, the candidates have already established themselves as innovative leaders. The MIT Sloan Fellow and Stanford MSx admits, actually undergo a leadership assessment before they even break into the coursework.

The aim of the Sloan Fellows Program is to not to introduce the foundations of business education, but rather take the education to another level where the focus is on developing the candidate’s innovative, strategic, enterprising, risk taking, and most importantly leadership skills. And the experience, brought in by the participants enrich the peer learning process, opening up doors to a sea of networking possibilities. If you’re considering an MBA after 30, these might be a good fit for your age and experience.

Though the three participating Sloan Fellow schools collaborate in the interest of the program, there are certain emphasized agenda that are independently pursued.


Sloan Fellows vs MBA / EMBA Programs

Here are a few observations based on adcom and alumni perspectives.

  • The Sloan Fellows curriculum is far more advanced than the typical MBA programs, with the latter serving as a stepping stone towards an introduction to the world of business while the former targets experienced senior professionals towards higher executive roles with a lot more leadership responsibilities.
  • It is also one of the very few full-time degree programs available to professionals beyond their 30s and 40s. Hence its popularity among candidates looking to advance their management skills over their already established technological careers, candidates desiring to move into CxO positions beyond their current management roles, and entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses into more profitable and impactful ventures.
  • The Sloan Fellows are also a much smaller cohort, than the typical MBA class sizes, making for a far more involved interactive learning process.
  • The rigorous residential nature of the Sloan Fellows program makes it more intense and effective than the other part time/weekend style Executive MBA programs which are also targeted at mid-career professionals (Read Is an EMBA worth it?).
  • The Fellows are taught by Tenured Faculty members and exposed to a wealth of information from industry experts.
  • These programs are among a chosen few that organize leadership seminars, to gain insights from some of the big players in the corporate world.
  • The curriculum also involves trips to financial, technological, and leadership, centers like Silicon Valley, New York, Washington DC, or other international business hubs, affording the candidates invaluable exposure for developing their managerial, executive, and entrepreneurial visions.
  • The Fellows program has higher international student participation as compared to the traditional MBA paving the way for a global perspective in their training.
  • Though most candidates pay for the degree themselves, there is still a significant number with corporate sponsorship.

Even with all the positives, it would be wise to be aware of the risks involved in the pursuit of this elite business Master’s degree.

  • The program is residential and immersive, requiring candidates to take a break from employment for a full 12 months. This is often financially and emotionally taxing for the candidates and their families, given their advanced age and hence the possibility of dependents and responsibilities. However, this is also reflective of their commitment, which often plays in their favor while being headhunted.
  • The price tag is generally higher than MBA degrees and given the career juncture of these candidates, their decision to fork out the heavy tuition needs to be backed by a clear career vision beyond this Master’s degree.


Sloan Fellows Program Review: MIT, LBS, Stanford

Sloan Fellows Program Format, Curriculum and Cost

Here is a quick peek at their individual formats, and curriculum.

  MIT LBS Stanford
Program Name MIT Sloan Fellows LBS Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy Stanford MSx
Degree MBA or MS (with thesis)in Management or Management Technology MSc in Leadership and Strategy MS in Management
Curriculum – 3600 Leadership Assessment
– Core courses on Business Fundamentals, Innovation and Global Leadership
– Electives (8-12 courses)
– Leadership, Innovation and Global Perspectives Module
– Core Courses on Leadership, Strategy and Business Fundamentals
– Electives (5-8 courses) from a choice of 65 courses
– Global Business Assignment
– 3600 Leadership Assessment
– Core Courses on Business Fundamentals
– Electives (>50% of curriculum)
– Leadership Development activities
– Study Trips
Tuition $132,500 (including cost of study trips) $92,444 (not including trips) $129,900(including study trips)


Eligibility for a Sloan Fellows Program

The Fellows program follows an immersive, interactive format with an exclusive group of carefully chosen admits. Class sizes are generally smaller than the usual MBA programs. MIT admits approximately 110 students, LBS about 60, and Stanford takes in around 80 students for its Master’s. The participants are senior executives, experienced leaders and mid-career professionals. The table below classifies the expected eligibility criteria, and other requirements for the three schools under the Sloan Fellows legacy.

  MIT LBS Stanford
Work Experience >10 years with leadership achievements Average Class Profile: >18 years with high achieving career >8 years

Preferably >5 years Management Exp.



GMAT/GRE/Executive Assessment Required GMAT/GRE/Executive Assessment required

(GMAT Waivers available)

GMAT/GRE required (Median for 2018: 700)
Admission Requirements – Transcripts
– Resume
– Cover Letter
– Essay
– Video Statement
– 2 LORs
– Organizational Chart
– App. Fee: $250
– Interview
– Transcripts

– TOEFL/IELTS/PTE and Cambridge
– Resume
– Essays
– Organizational Chart
– 2 LORs
– Interview
– App. Fee: $225

– Transcripts. No min. GPA
– TOEFL(>100 iBT & 600 PBT)/IELTS(>7)/ PTE (>68)
– Resume
– 3 LORs
– Essay
– Interview
– App. Fee: $275
Deadlines R1: September
R2: December
R3: February
R1: March
R2: May
R3: July (Final deadline for non UK/EU candidates)
R4: September
R1: September
R2: January
R3: March

So, if you are looking to reinvent your career, using your accomplishments for the bigger and better, we urge you to explore this program and see how it paves the path towards fulfilling your vision.

MBA Crystal Ball has helped several applicants over 30 – 35 years get into the Sloan Fellows program. Here’s one such story:
Second MBA degree abroad (USA) with scholarship after 30 from Sloan Fellows

Drop us a line if you need help with your Sloan Fellows application: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com
Sources: 1,2,3,4

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