The UCLA PGP Pro program was launched in India to help experienced executives get world-class management education from a top ranking business school without leaving their jobs. The program does not require GMAT scores.
Here’s Sameer Kamat (Founder of MBA Crystal Ball) in discussion with Keith Groya (Senior Account Director at UCLA Anderson Executive Education) to review what the program has to offer. The interview covers a range of topics – including the tuition fee, eligibility, application process, essay / interview tips and more.
Read on to see if it’s the right program for you, as an alternative to a regular or executive MBA.
MBA Crystal Ball: Can you please describe how the program came into existence? Why did UCLA feel the need to create multiple programs just for India?
Keith Groya: As one of the world’s most renowned business schools, UCLA Anderson has always sought ways to engage with international markets and has long recognized the importance of an economy as fast growing and important to global business as India’s.
Until 2014, UCLA Anderson Executive Education’s engagement in India was focused on developing customized solutions for multi-nationals and corporations, in addition to the many Indian students who attended UCLA Anderson to pursue their MBA, Executive MBA (EMBA), or other masters diplomas offered by the school.
By partnering with Northwest Executive Education we were able to leverage their deep understanding of the Indian market and its requirements in order to expand our presence in the region and enter the open enrollment sector.
We developed UCLA PGPX on the strong foundations of our existing UCLA Executive Program (EP), which has been running since 1954. The PGPX certificate program has been very successful in providing a comprehensive leadership development experience for senior and mid-level executives.
Based on the success of PGPX and our understanding of the market demand as well as target audience, we have expanded our portfolio of offerings to now include UCLA PGP PRO, the first cohort of which was launched in April 2018 to great acclaim from the participants for its relevance, comprehensiveness and the overall quality of the learning journey.
MCB: What are the key differences between:
UCLA PGP PRO has an average participant experience profile of about 10 years compared to an average of almost 18 years for PGPX. This is reflected in the classroom dynamics as well as faculty focus, which is to build management capacity and capability for early and middle management for UCLA PGP PRO.
The program leverages online learning significantly with faculty led videos, self-paced learning and self-assessed quizzes and assignments throughout the program. It weaves together the benefits of cohort led learning and discipline with regular classroom sessions taught by UCLA Anderson faculty and industry experts at regular intervals through the program.
Offered at a very accessible price of US$ 10,000, UCLA PGP PRO makes it possible for a high potential professional to get a top quality and immersive learning experience from one of the world’s most renowned universities, right here in India, without leaving work behind.
UCLA is ranked among the top 5 public universities in the world and is considered the birthplace of the Internet. UCLA Anderson School of Management is a premier business school and has a global presence and reach with more than 37,000 alumni across the world.
UCLA PGP PRO is a comprehensive management program that is offered online and in-classroom from UCLA Anderson Executive Education in partnership with Northwest Executive Education.
ISB is a highly respected and established institution within India. Both of these offerings are aimed at professionals but are different in the structure, scope and experience.
We advise participants to carefully consider curriculum, program cost, faculty, brand and program fit to decide whether they want the UCLA experience and learning from UCLA Faculty or they want the ISB experience.
MCB: Describe the ideal candidate for PGP Pro – age range, years of experience, career aspirations, industries/roles?
Keith: The typical candidate for UCLA PGP PRO will be 28-40 years old with an average work experience of about 10 years.
We look for candidates who have shown a positive career progression and a demonstrated track record of success, either in established organizations or entrepreneurial settings.
We look for conviction, confidence and ambition in applicants as well as their vision for how their personal and professional growth will be benefited by their engagement with UCLA Anderson Executive Education.
Participants come from all industries and functions with real diversity in the classroom and most of our participants are self-sponsored for the program.
MCB: How selective is the program compared to those offered by other business schools?
Keith: Our typical class is about 50 participants. We are very selective with regard to the profile and personal characteristics of the candidates whom we admit into the program as our goal is to build the kind of diverse classroom peer group that will significantly enhance the learning experience.
We do not share statistics with regards to specific program admissions but overall UCLA admit rate is ~20%. We do not require standardized test scores such as TOEFL or GMAT for UCLA PGP PRO Admissions.
MCB: When do you start accepting applications? How long does the process take?
Keith: Our admissions process starts in October each year for UCLA PGP PRO. It’s a rolling admissions process and we process applications within 2-3 weeks of application with a final decision communicated to the applicant in time for them to make an informed decision between our program and any alternatives that they may be considering.
MCB: Describe the various components of the application process.
Keith: Applicants should apply through the online application system as we do not accept paper applications. In the application, they need to provide us with information about their current employment as well as other personal and professional details.
The admissions committee decides on the final admission after considering all of the information about the applicant including information available in the public domain. Once determined by the committee, offers of admission are communicated by email to the successful candidates.
MCB: Share some tips on creating a writing good essay for the questions covered.
Essay questions: What are your long term (5-10 years) career aspirations? How will the UCLA PGP PRO help you achieve these?
We want to hear from the person about their intrinsic motivations for doing the program in pursuit of their aspirations and goals. My only advice would be to make your case in as simple and straightforward a way as possible.
Candidates should bear in mind the information that they have already submitted in other parts of their applications including resumes etc. about their profile and career growth to-date, and so this essay should be used to build on that information and highlight what motivates them in their pursuit of their career goals going forward.
They should also use this as opportunity to communicate participant-program fit.
We want to ensure that program meets their needs and they will be able to leverage the growth platform that the program provides.
MCB: Any tips for interview prep?
Keith: The interview is aimed at understanding the applicant better and to clarify aspects of their profile that are not clear to us or to understand gaps, if any.
Our interviewers are very highly qualified and well trained to assess the required information.
No special preparation is required for the interview, since we have clear focus areas to cover and they might be different for each applicant. Just be yourself.
MCB: How much is the total tuition? What are the other components (accommodation, transportation) that applicants should plan for?
Keith: The program tuition is US$ 10,000 and it includes all learning materials required in the program. It also includes all classroom days and lunch during the classroom modules. Participants are responsible for their own accommodation and transportation in the program and this allows us to keep the program fee to the bare minimum, no frills model.
There are no components to the program fee as we do not charge for anything besides the program tuition and it includes all learning materials as well as lunch during classroom sessions.
Accommodation and transportation to the program venue during classroom sessions should be accounted for in the planning for the program. Participants also need access to a good internet connection and computer / tablet to complete the synchronous (live-online) web sessions with UCLA faculty as well as the asynchronous learning on the online platform.
MCB: Are there scholarships available for deserving candidates?
Keith: We do not provide any scholarships. Our focus is on keeping the program affordable and accessible and taking out all the frills.
Although there is no financial aid to defray the program fee, only applicants fully qualified to take the program are admitted, thus maintaining, as far as possible, the principle of merit based access to this powerful UCLA learning experience.
MCB: Are there any tie-ups with loan companies for non-collateral loans?
Keith: Yes. Our partner Northwest helps connect participants to access education loans from HDFC Credila and DHFL Avanse at this stage for the UCLA PGP PRO.
MCB: How much of it is classroom based? Where are the classes held?
Keith: UCLA PGP PRO has more than 2 weeks of classroom based learning delivered by UCLA Faculty and Industry experts in addition to the extensive online modules.
These sessions are typically organized at appropriate venues in Delhi-NCR and Bangalore to make it easy for participants to travel to only two locations through the program.
MCB: Are the online lectures live or pre-recorded?
Keith: There are live-online sessions that are conducted by UCLA Faculty which happen through the entire program at a frequency of about 2 sessions per month. This is separate from the pre-recorded, faculty produced,asynchronous online content that participants access on the program platform.
Is any of the content designed specifically for the Indian business world? Describe some of the Master Classes you’ve had for the current class. [Who were invited, what did they cover]
Our approach to education at UCLA Anderson is global. We use case studies from India in LA and we use global case studies during the program when running it in India.
With the increasing global nature of business, we want to focus more on the concepts and skills and use materials that are best suited to teach those aspects, as decided by our faculty.
The current class has already had the opportunity to learn from Prof. Sanjay Sood, Director of The Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports at UCLA Anderson, on marketing and branding as well as Prof. Bob McCann on leadership communications.
MCB: Does the program have a practical component to it (projects, assignments)? How is the student’s progress evaluated?
Keith: The program is mostly practical and applied instead of being theoretical with case studies and simulations being the most common mechanism of learning through the program. There are assignments as well as quizzes through the program to assess learning progress.
Assessment is through regular, automated quizzes and assignments through which the students are able to measure their progress on the platform. There are no exams for evaluation as we do not believe that it’s the right metric for experienced professionals.
However, our team is constantly monitoring the performance of all participants and provides guidance to participants on their own progress relative to others, as well as overall benchmarks so as to help with personal motivation and completion of the program.
MCB: Is the program helpful for career changers?
Keith: As we understand from the current set of participants, there are several people who have already changed jobs and or grown within their own organizations, since they started the program.
So indeed, the anecdotal evidence suggests that the program is significantly helpful for career growth.
MCB: One concern applicants might have is that the program offers a certificate (and not a degree). How much value will the certificate have among the Indian companies?
Keith: Our experience across the world suggests that employers value real learning and its application by their employees and that is the mainstay of our programs, delivered by our world class faculty and backed up by UCLA Anderson’s reputation as being one of the top business schools in the world.
UCLA stands behind the certificate as indicating that the program meets the high educational standards expected of a school of our stature and that the program offers the diligent participant the opportunity for substantial growth as a manager and business leader based on what they learn.
And we see this in the growth of our participants in their careers. Employers also value the fact that an individual, in parallel with his / her career, is putting in time, effort and energy to prepare for their next stage of career growth with learning from an institution of high global reputation.
MCB: Are there any outreach efforts taken up by UCLA or your education partner (Northwest Executive Education) to connect with industry players and generate awareness about these programs, and the value they can add to their employees?
Keith: We (both UCLA and Northwest) maintain regular and diverse contact with industry in order to make it aware of our offerings and to invite collaboration in our diverse initiatives.
Historically,the UCLA Anderson alumni community has been very open to engage with and assist emerging generations of fellow alums.
MCB: Describe how your education partner in India (Northwest) manages the career advancement services?
Keith: UCLA PGP PRO is a part time program and most of the participants enroll in it with significant experience and current full time jobs, in addition to having family responsibilities etc. Their career needs are very different from those of full time MBA students who are typically younger and earlier in their career journeys.
Northwest provides executive coaching from a certified executive coach to all participants with respect to improving their profiles and presenting themselves better on their resume and also Linkedin.
Typical opportunities posted on the Northwest Job Board focus on sales, marketing, strategy, product management etc. at various levels with a minimum of 7 years of experience for most roles but also with a focus on high potentials and high performers.
The interview preparation support is specific to the opportunity that the participant is considering and can include both behavioral and technical queries.
MCB: Anything else you’d like to add that you’d like applicants to know?
Keith: We are very committed to India and to the growth of the Indian business environment and talent through our various initiatives, both in India and in the US as well as other geographies.
Indian students are highly prized at UCLA, with many considered among the top talent across many programs and departments. We are excited that UCLA PGP PRO has been very successful in its launch year in India and we look forward to it becoming a program of choice for Indian professionals looking to upgrade their management skills and grow their careers in association with UCLA Anderson Executive Education.
For further details, interested candidates can visit the official page here.