Berkeley and Columbia to End Joint EMBA Program

They say breaking up is hard to do. Don’t tell that to Columbia Business School and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which announced that they will exit the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program in February 2013, when the current EMBA class graduates. In a joint announcement, the deans of the two schools said that the breakup was mutual, and was made in recognition of each program’s future plans.

The joint program, which has been around since 2002, was originally hailed as the ultimate “East Meets West” power combination, with Wall Street smart combining with Silicon Valley brains to create the next big thing in executive education. While the program has been a success by virtually any measure, one big thing has changed over the past decade: Both schools have announced or introduced their own in-house executive MBA options, leaving little room for the joint program.

Haas does not offer its own EMBA program, but plans to start doing so in 2013. Meanwhile, Columbia now offers a Saturday-only EMBA option, and has launched partnerships with other schools to expand its EMBA offerings, most notably London Business School. Considering all of these moves, it’s no surprise that the two schools decided to go their own ways.

This announcement puts one group in particular in an unusual bind: People who were recently admitted to the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA program. According to the announcement on the Haas website, these new admits will have three options: They can join Haas’s Evening & Weekend program, start any of Columbia’s EMBA programs, or start the new Haas EMBA program when it launches next year.

While joint ventures have been quite popular among top business schools over the last two decades (especially in the international arena), we wonder if we will see other instances of schools deciding to go their separate ways in the next few years.

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