September 13, 2011, 12:30 PM EST
Date: Originally aired on September 13, 12:30 PM EST
Session Title: M.S. in Project and Program Management Information Session – Course Content Descriptions
Panelists: Anne Marando, MS, Academic Program Chair, Director of Distance Learning; Shannon Davis, I.S. Project Manager, Analog Devices, Inc.; Monica Perez, Enrollment Advisor
Description: In this information session, our panelists talk about the topics and learning outcomes within each course of Brandeis University’s M.S. in Project and Program Management.
Female Speaker: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the Brandeis University Rabb School of Continuing Studies, Graduate Professional Studies, Masters of Science in Management of Projects and Programs Information Session Course Content Webinar.
All right, kind of immediate throughout the duration of the webinar, if you have any questions during the presentation please type them into the chat box located on the Control Panel and click send to submit your question. After the webinar, you will be able to obtain the slides in our archive recording, please contact Enrollment Advisor Monica Perez at the Information listed below.
Today, we have three speakers who will lead in the webinar.
We have Anne Marando who is the Director of Distance Learning for Graduate Professional Study as well as a faculty and Program Chair of the Management of Project and Programs Degree Program. She had held a project in Process Management Positions at several organizations including Fidelity Investments and her specialty areas include Project and Program Management, Risk Management, Business Education and Process Methodology Management.
We have Shannon Davis who’s an I.T. Project Manager at Analog Devices and she completed her Master of Science in Management of Projects and Programs at Brandeis University this year. She has been working in I.T. for over 15 years.
We also have Monica Perez, Enrollment Advisor for Brandeis University Online. Monica had worked in Online Education for over six years and has an MBA from Coward Graduate School of Management. Monica would be able to answer any enrollment-related you may have toward the closure of this webinar.
And I’ll turn it over to Anne Marando.
Anne Marando: Thanks, Lena and thanks to everyone for joining us today to talk about the Management of Projects and Programs Master’s Degree here at Brandeis and to hear more specifically about many of the courses of our curriculum.
As Lena noted, my name is Anne Marando and I’m the chair of this program as well as the Director of Distance Learning for our Graduate School. During today’s session, first I’ll give an overview of Brandeis University and a bit of its history and its faculty.
I’ll then give a broad overview of the Master’s Degree Program and its curriculum and approach and we’ll then segway into our primary objective for today which is to review each of the courses of the curriculum in a bit more depth. Along the way, we’ll have a brief demonstration of an online course.
And near the end, we have a recent graduate, Shannon, who will speak to the student perspectives and Monica will share information about our enrollment and admissions requirements.
We’ll close with an open Q&A but I do encourage you to enter questions throughout the session as you think of them. They’ll be compiled and addressed by the appropriate panelist at the end of the session. And in the event that we don’t have enough time to get to them all, we’ll address them offline after the session.
So first, a little bit about Brandeis. Brandeis University is located in Waltham, Massachusetts which is just outside of Boston. We are a private co-educational, nonsectarian institution named in honor of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
We’re founded in 1948 by members of the American Jewish Community. And the university combines the breadth and scope of a world class research university and the accessibility of the smaller to large college. Brandeis is widely recognized for its [inaudible] teaching, the quality and diversity of its student body and the outstanding research of its faculty. We are accredited by the New England Associations of Schools and Colleges and we have a strong commitment to academic excellence.
For some fast facts in the Brandeis Community, we have represented for more than 100 countries among our student body with 3,400 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students, more than 350 full-time faculty and more than 1,000 administrators and staff members. Our Master’s Degree Program is part of the Division of Graduate Professional Studies of the Rabb School, one of four graduate schools here at Brandeis.
Well then, Graduate Professional Studies or GPS as they call it, we have seven Master’s Degree Programs, all of which are part-time designed for adult working professionals looking to advance in our fields. All of our faculty members here at GPS are working professionals in their fields along with the students. The faculty members developed their own courses, directly participate in the online discussions and they personally grade all student work including participation and other course assignments.
So we have no separate discussion facilitators or teaching assistants for example. And this means that our faculty members really bring their industry experience into the online classroom in the discussions and in their evaluation of student work. For example, when I review a project charter, the schedules created by my students, I give the same kind of feedback as I would when co-teaching a deliverable created by a colleague. Within GPS, we have over 80 part-time instructors who teach courses among our seven graduate programs. 20 or so of these instructors teach course — of these instructors teach courses in the Management of Projects and Programs Degree.
Now, a little bit more about our Master’s Degree Program, effective project and program managers balance hard skills meaning technical skills like planning, estimating and budgeting as well as soft skills such as leading, negotiating and communicating. And also kind of be the theme that we’ll discuss throughout the session. The courses of our Master’s Degree curriculum have been designed to mirror this balance of hard and soft skills.
Our graduate program explores the application of Projects and Program Management within the context of companies with maybe different sizes, different organizational structures and many different industries from software to financial services, construction, [inaudible] profit and so forth. So very portable applied Project and Program Management techniques.
The curriculum, when appropriate, is consistent with the PMI, the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge [inaudible] and other standards. And quickly, for some history, this Master’s Degree Program was launched in 2003 and have been available online since 2008. The program was among the first credit-bearing Master’s Degrees in Project Management to be offered by a major U.S. university.
In terms of current enrollments including our May 2011 graduates, we’ve had over 90 Master’s Degree recipients and they’re currently coached to 100 matriculated students in the program. For a few more specifics, all of our courses are 10 weeks in length and the Master’s Degree requires the successful completion of 10 courses. There are seven required courses and three electives and we’ll look at the specific courses in just a minute.
We have three semesters that start in the fall, spring and summer terms. Our fall term runs from mid-September through the end of November. Our spring term runs from mid-January through early April. And our summer term runs from the end of May through early August. Students can enroll in one or two courses per term, although we recommend it’s possible that students start by taking one course. There’s no requirements to take courses in each terms, however the Master’s Degree must be completed within five years of one’s first course.
So depending in how many courses that a student decides to take in a given term, the Master’s Degree can be completed in just over one and a half years to up to five years. We do have small class sizes which are capped to 20 students for most of our online courses, though a couple of courses such as Professional Communication and Leadership are capped at slightly smaller numbers. On average, students can expect to spend between nine and 12 hours per week per course working on assignments and discussions and readings and so forth.
The Master’s Degree includes seven required courses, the first of which is Foundations of Project Management. This course is very accurately named. It’s foundational in nature and it covers many of the core techniques of project management in a broad overview.
It really lays a strong foundation for all of the remaining required courses to follow. As I mentioned previously, effective Project and Program Managers have a balance of hard or technical skills such as planning, estimating and budgeting as well as soft or interpersonal skills such as leading, influencing, negotiating and communicating. So the curriculum reflects this balance. Three of our required courses shown here focus on the soft or interpersonal skills and these include professional communications, leadership, team building and decision making and negotiating in conflict resolution.
The three remaining required courses focus on the hard skills aligned with Advanced Scheduling and Control, Risk Management for Projects and Programs, and Program Management Theory and Practice. And we’ll be discussing each of these courses in a bit more depth shortly but it’s important to understand how the core courses integrate and that really contributes to the program level outcomes realized by Master’s Degree recipients. This combination of the hard and the soft skills is really a key part of our program’s design.
So the core courses encapsulate the skills that we believe are essential for all Project and Program Managers. The six electives of the program then allow students to focus on particular areas of interest. For example, some Project Managers may do a lot of work with vendors and related contracts, in which case, the Chairman in Contract Management Course would be of interest. Other Project Managers maybe leading Agile teams or working with an organization who’s trying to adopt Agile approaches, in which case the Agile Project Management course would be a good choice.
Once again, in today’s I’ll be walking through each of these courses but at this point, I want to highlight the special topics in Project Management Elective shown here. We try to keep our curriculum current and relevant and we seek input not only from our faculty but also from an Advisory Board of Senior Executives in the Industry to assess trends and noble approaches.
So the Special Topics course allows us to introduce new courses into the curriculum based on student, faculty and advisory board feedback. I’ll talk in a middle of our one Special Topic offering in Clinical Trial Project Management. Other potential Special Topic offerings currently being assessed include a course on government-related Project Management Standards and a course on Project Management Simulation. So from these six electives, the student chooses three to complete the Master’s Degrees.
Now, while the subject matter of our courses clearly varies, the courses do share some common characteristics. For example, all of our courses have a strong focus on outcomes. At the program, course and even weekly levels, we state outcomes and these are skills that students can be expected to demonstrate upon completion of the program course or week. This focus on outcomes really aligns well with our practical approach. We really want students to leave our courses and readily apply related concepts on their places of work.
So while all courses cover some theory to some degree, our primary objective is for students to demonstrate skills which they can apply in a job.
In some companies, they can be challenged to introduce new Project and Program Management techniques and so our courses address these challenges head-on through the course discussion, sharing of best practices and case studies.
Students discuss approaches to demonstrate the value of techniques within companies where they may not be universally accepted. And then talk about skills to try to influence those within those organizations to adopt those cost-effective techniques within their workgroup’s divisions or organizations.
In addition, many of our courses integrate group work where students work on virtual teams to complete projects, asynchronous tools are available for students such as the one we’re using now allowing students to work within their group, share applications, have discussions using text chat or microphones and webcams and make recordings of these sessions and presentations.
And as I mentioned, the techniques covered in the courses are portable meaning that one can fly them to many different industries and application areas and students, through this, learn collaboratively and they gain an appreciation for not only how to apply these techniques within their own industry but in other industries and application areas as well sharing those practices.
So now, we kind of get to the heart of this session which is to walk through each of the courses, we do have a pattern that will follow. I’m going to varies from that pattern first by showing a quick snapshot of the first course of the curriculum, Foundations of Project Management.
This is roughly a high-level outline from the syllabus. This is the first required course of the program and it’s designed to introduce students to key principles of Project Management, each of which is then addressed in more depths in a subsequent core or elective course. So for example, here we see Risk Management covered in Week 7, one of the weekly modules of the course and Risk Management itself is then another core course of the program.
This is a comprehensive course covering many facets of Project Management including both hard and soft skills. The Process Groups of the Pin Back are covered in depth from initiating through a closure as the weekly modules unfold. And while it’s intended to be introductory in nature, this is perhaps one of the more challenging courses of the curriculum in terms of the breadth of the concepts presented. Here, we see the course outcomes for Foundations of Project Management and as we go through the rest of the courses today in the session, you’ll see the course outcomes on the screen. And again, the outcomes state the skills that we expect students to be able to demonstrate upon completion of the course. The assignments in a given course will mirror the outcomes.
So in this case, students in Foundations of Project Management will be asked to write a project charter to launch a project to create a work breakdown structure to organize and define the scope of a project and build a scheduler used in Microsoft Project. There are Microsoft Project exercises to allow students to practice their skills and scheduling tool before these larger scheduler assignment is due. And through other course discussions and readings, students will be able to create and analyze various kinds of tracking reports as well as analyze change in quality management process in the context of Project Management. The course concludes with an Introduction to Program Management, Portfolio Management and Agile Project Management techniques. After completing this first foundational course, students are well-prepared to continue on to the remaining core courses of the program.
Here, we have the outcomes for the Professional Communication course. The ability to write and speak cogently in one field is an important outcome really of all of our Master’s Degree programs here. The Professional Communication course addresses many different types of communication including intrapersonal, interpersonal, small group, public, Math, intercultural, and computer-mediated. Throughout the course, students explore various theories related to communications and they have the opportunity to put these theories into practice, again, our applied focus, through the weekly discussions and course assignments where they write and speak in a variety of different informative and persuasive topics.
And these course students prepare a number of speeches or presentations creating recordings using asynchronous tool provided similar to the one we’re using here. Students then submit these recordings and share them via the course site. The topics covered in these speeches range from introductory to informative to persuasive presentations. And students are asked to critique their own presentations as well as those of their classmates and to conduct audience analysis. Students’ consistent may provide positive feedback on this course. They indicate that it really strengthens their abilities to communicate in a number of different settings orally and in writing and to a variety of audiences.
Here we have the Advanced Scheduling Equipment Tool course, so following along, this is the third course.
I’m listing them in kind of a recommended sequence but it’s not a hard and fast sequence, this is one of the hard or the more technical skills of the curriculum and it builds on the planning and estimating topics that were introduced in the Foundations of Project Management course.
Chapter 5, the early details coverage of planning, scheduling and controlling techniques, with many exercises that are intended to get extensive experience in applying these techniques from preparing a detailed project work breakdown structure, creating a project network diagram, estimating activity durations with effort-driven and duration-driven estimates, looking at critical path and trying to bring in a schedule, developing resource histograms and tables, responsibility assignment matrix and so forth, techniques to fast track and crash schedules, establish cost and schedule baselines, continuing to earn values.
Those who have been in the field are familiar with these techniques, there’s a variety of different hard skills associated with reviewing these kinds of matrix and making sure that the cost and schedule baselines are managed appropriately.
One of the fundamental things to this course is that projects are investments and there are many factors that contribute to a company’s ability to obtain returns on their investments, the schedule being one such factor.
So Project Managers must have an understanding of the value associated with the projects that they’re working on. And as they make decisions when they plan and schedule, budget and control a project, those decisions have a direct impact on the value being delivered by the project and that’s a very important theme of this course. The courses perhaps, again, another challenging course in the program particularly for those students who’re more comfortable perhaps in writing intensive or presentation-intensive courses. It does have a string focus on more technical skills and incorporates many different exercises to allow students opportunities to practice the techniques involved.
Now, we move on to leadership team-building and decision-making and I frequently referred to that as simply as the Leadership course but it certainly does have other facets to it. Effective Leadership and Team Building crosses disciplinary boundaries. And we all instinctively know that leading somehow differs from managing and yet the differences can be challenging to articulate. And briefly, the leadership is the process through which one person influences the attitudes and behaviors of others.
So the Leadership course includes topics such as leadership theory, emotional intelligence, organizational ethics and value, visioning and strategic planning, organizational structure and performance, organizational culture, team roles and development and effective decision making techniques. The course assignments include an individual term project, smaller homework assignments and group case study analysis where individuals rotate the leadership role for various case studies. The course has a great deal of reading articles, cases and other resources as well as writing via the discussion posts, papers and case study analysis. While reading about the leadership and team building theories covered in the course, students assess their own abilities and the various and try to come up with strategies to improve to enhance their own skills.
Next, we move on to risk management for Projects and Programs near and dear to my heart. Many organizations practice some level of Risk Management, they’ll employ effective techniques from initiation through closure. This course looks at separate modules on each of the Risk Management processes from Risk Management Planning, Identification, Qualitative Risk Analysis, Quantitative Risk Analysis, Monitoring and Control. Later modules of the course address topics such as judgment and bias, decision analysis and strategies to implement risk management within organizations.
Through the course assignments, students develop risk management deliverables to be a semester-long project, executing the techniques covered in the course content by identifying, analyzing and responding to risks. Many former students have reported back that they were able to use the templates developed for the course in their places of work helping to increase awareness of Risk Management practices within their own organizations. In the course, students are also asked to present their Risk Management plans and results sharing recorded presentations via the course site for review and input by their classmates.
Challenges and best practices related to Risk Management techniques are addressed through discussions which also include case study analysis. And an overall theme of the course involves selecting cost-effective techniques that meet the needs of an individual project routine and again, going back to the theme on investment, making investments and executing only those response plans that makes financial sense for the project or program.
Here, we have the Negotiating and Conflict Resolution course, again, we’re rotating back and forth here covering a hard skill and a soft skill, hard skill and a soft skill. This is the last course, a soft skill course. And the abilities to negotiate and resolve conflicts within our project or program setting are really essential skills for project and program managers.
This course covered frameworks for understanding and resolving conflicts, strategies for negotiating including distributive bargaining and other topics such as value planning, frames of reference, value creation, cognitive biases negotiations, power and influence and third-party negotiations Considerations related to globalization and virtual teams are also addressed. Students can expect coming from this course recognizing the pervasiveness and importance of conflict resolution and negotiation and developer repertoire of negotiating skills and a systematic approach to negotiate with stakeholders of various levels.
The course includes case study analysis as well as a series of virtual group negotiation sessions where students conduct synchronous role plays to demonstrate negotiation techniques. These negotiation sessions are facilitated by the instructor and the results of the group synchronous sessions are recorded and made available on the course site for review and critique by the instructor and fellow classmates. So again, the opportunity to learn the theory and then put it into practice and then as a group and with this instructor, critique the output of those skills for improvement.
The Program Management course embodies all of the processes and techniques that we see in Project Management but as you know in Program Management that you’ve kind of just takes that a little bit higher than at the project level.
In Program Management, we often have profit-loss responsibility, benefits management, organizational strategic planning, frequently have numerous and diverse stakeholder groups and contract negotiations across multiple projects. Frequently, programs spend many years. They involve multiple product releases and sometimes necessitate the establishment of a program office. So the Program Management Theory and Practice course cover the Program Management framework from initiation through closure.
And as a consistent focus on Program Management themes such as Benefits Management, Stakeholder Management and Program Governance. Later modules of the course address Portfolio Management, the Program Management Office or PMO and techniques to demonstrate a business case for Program Management within an organization. The course that includes the development of Program Management Templates, the creation of a project charter presentation or business case, case study analysis and discussions related to challenges and best practices when implementing Program Management practices within companies of various sizes and industries.
Now, I’d like to break from describing our courses and give a brief demonstration of an online course. Shortly, we’re going to review a demonstration course and our Learning Management System that we’ve built from an actual course but the student information has been removed for confidentiality purposes. So you should be seeing our Course Management System in the upper left-hand corner. You’ll see something called LATTE. Our Learning Management System is based on Moodle. We call it LATTE which stands for Learning and Teaching Technology Environment.
And one of the first things you’ll notice when you enter one of our online courses is that all of our courses have a similar look and feel and this will really benefit you as you move from course to course, you’ll know exactly where to go to find assignments, you’ll find the discussions forums, build online libraries and a various tools and so forth. So we have a consistent core structure. It’s a common set of blocks, the squares and frames on the left hand side and on the right hand side. And down the center is kind of the part or the midst of the course if you will.
In all of our courses, you’ll see some common information near the top center of the course such as multiple ways to communicate. So the instructor will communicate with all students through a course news and announcement post, students can share questions and comments with the instructor and each other through a question and comments forums, some maybe particular to individual assignments. We also have private forums which are an ability for students to communicate one on one with the instructor and those posts are private to the two. And we have social forums of the hallway where folks can talk about any off-topic posts such as networking opportunities where, you know, what courses people plan to take next or what are they doing over the holiday, weekend, and that kind of thing.
So you’ll see many different ways to communicate as well as some standard information on all of our courses regarding academic integrity, some orientation materials and so forth. Students that take courses with us in our online environment are asked to complete a self-guided Student Distance Learning Orientation course available for students at no cost before the start of each term. And in that orientation course, students are oriented to what all these different blocks mean and what they do so that when you go to take a course with us, you’ll be well-prepared to be able to navigate through the course site within the Learning Management System.
I’m going to scroll down briefly and focus on one week of the course. I just want to highlight here, we’re looking at Week 1 and at the top, its Defining Program Management and its Theme. Quickly, I’ll just point out that there is a weekly checklist and that’s an important kind of snapshot of the syllabus that guide students through the requirements of the week in terms of what to read, what to pose and what assignments to complete. So the way we run our online courses is that instructors will post text-based online lecture materials.
In many courses, they call these topic notes so there are number of different text-based lecture notes as well as some additional materials created by your instructor and posted to the course site. And then throughout the course week which we run from Wednesday through Tuesday, students and the instructor engage in asynchronous discussion so there’s no set day or time to log in but there is a pace, some of these posts are due by Saturday, others that due by Monday and students and the instructor will enter these forums, the instructor will post a starter question to which then all students are asked to reply by these interim due dates throughout the course week. So this inflexibility in terms of when a student wants to login but there is a weekly pace.
Other assignments for the week are also available within Net Block, many of our courses have self-test or self-assessments and this is where the students would also go to submit actual deliverable-based assignments, also made it through the course site. So in this environment, students and the instructor form connections through these online discussions. They look at each module, concept and they share their own professional experiences with one another and they really can’t be quiet as an online learner, online participation is really a core part of our approach and it’s associative with at least 30% of a student’s final grade. As I mentioned, many of our courses incorporate the use of synchronous tools available to students for use in group projects, live online presentations and role plays and related instructions to access these tools are available in these weekly blocks as well.
So in summary, it’s a very simple yet structured and robust interface through which students and the instructor interact through the forums, submit and return assignments and assessments and share materials including online lecture notes. At this point, I’m going to go back and return to our course content descriptions and continue on. Hopefully, that visual broke up a little bit my talking through these courses and gave you a quick feel of what our courses looked like and how they run but if you have any questions about our online approach, I do broke up from them.
Now, I’ll walk through each of the electives, again, we’ll just shows a course outcomes, three to the electives on the slides. Challenges in Project Management is an appropriately named course. It addresses common challenges that occur in Projects and Programs, explores the reasons why they occur and then methods to prevent and overcome them.
So after completing the core courses of the curriculum, students will have a strong understanding of many of the challenges that a Project Manager will face through at the life cycle in the areas such as Stakeholder Management, Communication, Leadership, Planning and so forth. This course focuses on key challenges of various types and methods to combat these challenges. Students analyze and address challenges through assignments which include case study analysis, the development of issues grid and a research paper that’s been prevented. The class discussions involve the sharing of experiences and techniques to prevent and combat common challenges.
The next elective, I’ll speak to as for Chairman and Contract Management. Some Project and Program Managers work with vendors heavily and as a result, they’re frequently involved in making outsourcing decisions and administering the associated contracts.
So this course covers the input, process, steps, techniques and outputs of Contract and Procurement management. Topics range from Procurement Planning and Contract Management activities, various contract scopes, developing effective terms and conditions choosing the right contract type, selecting the best contractor techniques for successfully outsourcing company activities as well as the organizational and human factors involved in dealing with difficult clients and techniques and best practices for successful Contract Managements. Through the course assignments, students develop Procurement Management Plans, request for proposals and they analyze project situations to make procurement and contract recommendations.
Next, we have Agile Project Management. Into some, this is some of the non-sec or thinking that Agile and Project Management are not related terms and there is a misconception that Agile methods have no documentation, no planning, no process and they really don’t need Project Managers.
This course looks at this myth and other myths related to Agile Approaches. The topics covered include an overview of the strengths and the weaknesses of Agile methods and may review a fundamental Agile Project Management framework from managing a co-typical Agile Project through phases from envisioning, speculating, exploring, adapting, and closing. We look at common Agile Planning and Estimating Methods in use today and we’ll look at some particular methodologies including Scrum, Unified Process and Extreme Programming.
We’ll compare and contrast Agile and Traditional Project Management Methods and we’ll talk about scaling in enterprise level considerations. Through the course assignments, students work in small Agile teams and they develop work products such as a vision statement, a project data sheet, a product backlog, release plan, iteration plan, and burndown chart. And through discussions and case study analysis, students look at challenges and roadblocks that companies face when they try to implement Agile Methodologies within their organizations.
The next two electives that I’ll speak to involved virtual and global applications. Project and Program Managers are frequently engaged in projects that involved geographically disbursed teams and while the hard and soft skills of our core curriculum are applicable, the abilities to adapt these approaches in light of different types of cultures will greatly enhance the chances for project and program success. These foundations of virtual team management across cultures and geography course presents a framework for assessing the geographical, cultural and regulatory environments in which virtual teams work.
There’s a number of different topics and I’m not going to read them all to you but for example, the creation of virtual identity and the establishment of trust among virtual team members. The effective technology and identity on communication on virtual teams, the interaction in roles of gender, culture, and regulation, how time actual and perceived differences in time affect expectations and obligations among virtual teams. These and many other topics I discussed that’s in the course includes a combination of theory, best practices, case studies and discussions and there are both individual and team projects and presentations.
Continuing on this virtual theme, we have the Management and Leadership of Virtual and Global Teams Elective. As they said, many teams today are no longer collocated in a single office. The teams can include members from multiple company locations and telecommuters.
And while many companies today rely in the global workforce tool, having offices in various regions around the world, an effective leader or manager needs to be able to build and lead virtual teams that are geographically disbursed. The going beyond the geographical and cultural differences that were introduced in the course that I just discussed, the Foundations of Virtual Team Management course, this course expands on related concepts and provide the frameworks for how to effectively create and manage virtual teams. How to master of multicultural communications, how to share and manage a global knowledge base, how to motivate team members to perform at their highest levels even while working virtually. And again, the course includes the combinations of theories as well as best practices, case studies and discussions as well as several group projects where students collaborate virtually as well as an individual final project.
Here, we have one of the Special Topics course, Clinical Trial Project Management. As I mentioned, the Special Topics are trends vary depending upon the schedule for a given term as different and noble approaches they’re introduced in the industry. A recent Special Topics course that we ran and we’ll run again this upcoming spring was on Clinical Trial Project Management.
The course is designed to help individuals understand the basics of how to manage a critical trial, how to understand the environment around the clinical and scientific management processes including the regulatory components and to look at the differences between Clinical Project Management and Project Management and other disciplines.
The course is designed for individuals who are currently like scientists to healthcare industries, looking to expand their practical knowledge for how clinical trials are designed and managed. And appropriate for individuals and a number of different industries from pharmaceutical, bio-pharma, biotech, medical device, academic research or clinical fields.
And I am winding down my piece here and we’ll also hear another voice in our session. The last course that I’d like to speak to is the preparing for the PMP Exam and this is a non-credit course. As I mentioned that the outset whereas the beginning of the session, many of our courses went applicable in corporate PMI standards including the Pin Back, the Program Management Standards, the Practice Standards for Risk Management and the Earned Value, et cetera.
And these standards, they’re not industry specific and they do provide a common vocabulary through which we can talk to Project Management Processes and Techniques. You’ll see the strongest alignment of the PMI Standards from among our hard skills courses.
Part of our mission as a Master’s Degree Program is to focus on practical cost-effective techniques that can be applied in the workplace. And the PMI Standards for the most part focus on what is involved in Project Management, what our courses aimed to focus on the how. That is the techniques that can be tailored to best meet the needs of project, program and organization.
So none of graduate level courses are intended to explicitly prepare someone to sit for the PMP Exam but we do recognize the relevance of the credential to many individuals and organizations. The majority of faculty members who teach courses in the program with PMPs and in fact some of our students are as well. So those students interstice and obtaining their credentials at some point in their futures, they offer this non-credit preparing for the PMP Exam course as an option. It’s a five-week course focusing on exam content and the interpretation of multiple styles of exam questions.
It allows students to assess gaps in their knowledge of the PMI Process grip to knowledge areas with regular self-assessments and feedback from the instructor so students can then develop and implement a precise plan of study. Again, this is a non-credit course, runs for five weeks, not 10 like our traditional core credit graduate courses. And the course is open to those who had completed the Foundations of Project Management course as a prerequisite.
Female Speaker: Thanks very much, Ann. And I’ll turn it over to Shannon Davis who will share her experience in the program.
Shannon Davis: Okay. So thank you for inviting me to speak today. In fact, first I will talk about why I chose Brandeis.
One of the reasons was that it did not require a GMAT or a GRE and so you are able to, you know, immediately enroll and another reason was that I have been to the school in the past for an undergrad and I was familiar with the interpretation. And in fact, I started with a Software Engineering program there and I got a certificate, met some of the professors and so when I started to get interested in Project Management, I said okay, I’m going to go back to Brandeis to, you know, finish up or start in the program there.
It’s actually the Foundations of Project Management course which is one of the key courses for this program. It’s also in the Software Engineering Degree and that’s what inspired me to actually become a Project Manager. So in terms of the how did I enjoy the format being on an online class and people ask me that a lot. Actually, I loved it. I much prefer to the in-class experience.
I’ve actually done both at Brandeis and I found that, you know, I’m a lot more suited for the online approach and what I found was great with how you could really optimize your work so if you had say, in our lunch break and in that time, you want to get to the discussion, you could do it at that time and the readings, you could print out and then maybe, if you were stuck on the train, you know, in between, you know, in your commute, you could be go into your readings. So you can really, if you’re a busy working person, the online format because it’s easy to fit into your life and spread it our throughout the week.
I also found that because of the easy group communication, the discussion can get very stimulating and people would start to add even more than the required number of responses and you could actually hear from everyone whereas in the classroom, sometimes the more, you know, red or center shy people don’t really get a chance to talk.
Classmates, that was another great aspect to the program. It was meeting people. There were people who were not just from I.T. or software but people from construction and pharmaceuticals so you got to have a different perspective on how Project Management might work in their fields and then there were people from different countries.
So you saw that virtual team management course that they offer, you actually almost immediately end up using that when you’re doing group projects with people who are from different countries and you’re trying to work with both remotely and possibly with different cultures so that’s also another great exposure that you may not get in your workplace.
My favorite classes there were actually few that were mentioned there. Agile Project Management, I thought that was a great course in particular because when you go to read things on say the internet or books, they’re often selling one particular methodology but in this class, we actually got to learn about different methodologies, we discussed the pros and the cons, you know, why wouldn’t you use Agile and we got a chance to practice without actually practicing it on a real project where you might take a risk.
I also really enjoy the Professional Communication course because although I thought I was a pretty good speaker, taking that course helped me really plan out these public speaking opportunities if I were to have one or giving a presentation or thinking about to how to write an email to get from, you know, being able to know when I contradict to actually publishing it so that it has the best effect.
And another favorite course was the Risk Management course because it was one of the earliest ones I took and I immediately started using it on my job and I still do and I think it gives me a little bit of a competitive advantage because there’s a lot of people who — I actually have never met anyone else as I do took the course, I’d do it to the level that we were taught in the course so I get to do a better job of Risk Management and you don’t find a lot of other people doing some of these techniques. They’re pretty cool. Well, that kind of concludes what I had to say. So thank you.
Female Speaker: Thanks Davis, Shannon. Now, I’ll turn it over to Monica Perez who will go over the enrollment requirement.
Monica Perez: Hi, good afternoon everyone. The items required for the enrollment package are shown here on the screen.
First bar, our admissions, our Enrollment Advisors will work with you to complete an online application form to capture your contact information, your intended entry term, details on your prior academic history and the names of your recommendation letter provider.
The online application can be completed in one sitting in just about 15-20 minutes to complete. Accompanying that application form is a $50 nonrefundable application fee, along with that is a statement of goals that must also be completed. This consists of a narrative of at least 500 words that addresses your motivations for pursuing a graduate degree, a description of how your personal professional goals aligned with our programs outcomes as well.
The letter of recommendation is required from a previous faculty member or employer or supervisor who’s qualified to evaluate your potential success in the program. This letter is sent directly from the recommendation provider to our Enrollment Office.
All applicants must also have a four-year recently accredited U.S. Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent with official transcripts from institutions sent directly to us. Applicants who earned their Bachelor’s Degree outside the United States must submit their records for a course by course evaluation by ECE or Education Credential Evaluators. And we could provide you with more information on how to get this done once we started working on your enrollment package.
A current resume should also be submitted describing your professional and educational background as well as experience.
Finally, TOEFL may be required for non-native English speakers who do not have at least two years of work experience in an English speaking environment. We will work with you on your application materials individually and addressing any questions or concerns as you move forward. If you do have any questions regarding this process, please feel free to contact me in my contact informations below.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Monica. So we had a number of questions that are coming in and we also want to remind everyone of the upcoming deadline for the spring 2012 term, the application deadline is November 15th 2011 and the spring class starting in January 18th, 2012. I’ll go ahead with the first question and the question is how do I get a copy of this presentation?
We will have an archive recording of this presentation and a PDF of the presentation, you should receive that from Monica Perez. You can also reach Monica at the information listed below and on the left side below will Monica’s contact information.
There’s some more questions. The next question is for Shannon, “Shannon, how many hours a week do you typically spend studying if you were taking one course at a time?”
Shannon Davis: I would say now, this is probably not — well, they, you know, they said it will be nine to 12 and I feel like it was more like six but here is why I feel that way. All the time that I would be doing the discussions, I didn’t necessarily I think about this time I was spending on the class, I would think of it more as, oh, it’s another fun, this discussion forum I get to go to and talk about my theory on the topic Project Management.
So I didn’t necessarily tracked that time that well but I can remember definitely, there would usually be one or two days a week, you know, usually Thursday or Saturday or Thursday, Saturday and then another hour in Monday where I would just sit down for the evening and say okay, I’m going to read through everything and I’m going to start, you know, doing the research I need to, you know, read the case study and respond to it so I mean I would say at a minimum, it would be six and then sometimes you have the crunch weeks, right?
So it might be, you know, more like 12 that would be when you have big projects due, when you have to meet with other people when you’re studying for test. So it kind of varied. I thought it was very manageable however.
Female Speaker: Thank you. And we actually have another question for you which is, “How do you feel the program has helped benefit you career comparing to without a Master’s Degree in Project Management?”
Shannon Davis: Oh, well, actually the truth is I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. So when I started the program, I was not in the Project Management, I just wanted to be a Project Manager and I thought well, if I could take this series of courses if I get this degree, then maybe I can get a job as a Project Manager.
Actually, it happened sooner than that, I think because I started taking the courses and I started learning so much about Project Management and being able to apply that, actually I was just saying, okay, even then when I was just big suffered about it and I will say well, let me apply it to my work as best I can and then in the course, I have to express inters in and it worked and I got a little bit more of Project Management and I think using the skills learned in these courses, people saw, oh, wow, you know, she’s just doing good at this and eventually now, I’m a Project Manager but I actually got into that position, you know, about a year before I graduated because I think all the courses are so applicable or so useful.
So it’s not about the degree that you get a pen and a piece of paper, it’s about the experience of going through it. I think that might be one, the best part about the program is that it’s not just log through this and get a degree, it’s well, each one of these things is really helping me. Does that help?
Female Speaker: Thank you, Shannon. We actually have another question for you. The question is, “Who did give you from the most, from the interaction with your peers or with the instructors?”
Shannon Davis: That’s a good question. I mean for sure, the interaction with the professors was important to me. They write the topic notes, I’d say it kind of like 50-50 because then you have the great discussions that you’re having but the professors do get in there and ask more questions and were like after it’s the last more leading questions that get people to open up more. So I think you need that moderation of the professor and you need those topic notes and those case studies to kick it off and then the rest of it is still in by the other students answering and talking about their life experiences.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Shannon. We have a question for Enrollment Advisor Monica Perez. The question is, “How long does it take to complete a program?”
Monica Perez: Sure. Students can complete a program in as little as 18 months which is equivalent to a five semester terms but you’re given five years to complete the program from the time you start your first class so there is definitely a lot of flexibility in that.
Female Speaker: Thanks, Monica. We have another question. The question is for Ann, “Is the Business Learning Degree any different from that was earned on-campus at Brandeis University?”
Anne Marando: No, it isn’t in terms of the degree or the diploma that’s issued, it’s from Brandeis University and the Rabb School, there’s no mention of online or anything like that in the name of the degree or in the diploma itself. And the courses and the outcomes and the program outcomes are identical to the classroom-based quizzes. So the delivery and method varies but the courses themselves there is range and robust as classroom-based experience.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Ann. Another question for you, “How are the programs accredited?”
Anne Marando: We as the university are accredited by the New England Associations of Schools and Colleges which is NEASC and that accreditation is done every 10 years with mid-point reaccreditation review periods. NEASC is the accrediting body of this region so they accredit other universities in the area such as Harvard and D.C. and so forth and it’s a very comprehensive process that touches all of the graduate schools at Brandeis, the undergraduate schools, our facilities, our online programs as well as our ability to support online learners and so forth. So the short answer is that is the NEASC which again is the New England Associations of Schools and Colleges.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Ann. The next question is for Monica and the question is, “When can I start the program?”
Monica Perez: Sure, we have three entry terms a year, spring, summer and fall. And we’re currently dealing with candidates for our spring term that starts in mid-January 2012.
Female Speaker: Thanks, Monica, another question for you. “Will I receive course materials for the program and are textbooks and materials online?”
Monica Perez: Yes, any online materials are found within the classroom but you can also purchase used and new books through our online bookstore as well.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Monica. And we have a question for you, “Do Brandeis offer a course waiver, should an applicant already be a certified PMP from PMI?”
Monica Perez: No, we don’t offer course waivers for those that are PMP certified, we do have a subset of our experience that our PMPs may apply. Many others are not. We tend to have a mix of experience.
Some students might have industry experience but no Project Management experience and other students may have 10, 15, 20 as a Project Management experience but regardless, to realize our program outcomes, students must successfully complete our courses and demonstrate the course level outcomes through the application of these techniques. So as I said previously, we do value the PMI credential and that will certainly give a leg up in terms of the vocabulary if what we discuss in the course but our course is more focused on the demonstration of techniques.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Ann, another question for you. “How competitive is the admittance process?”
Anne Marando: Applications are reviewed as they are received on enrolling basis, so it’s rolling admissions. We do have deadlines that mark for the various entry points for the starts of terms but it’s not if so, you know, for example in our traditional undergraduate environment, and admissions committee receives all admissions package in bulk and then from there, selects which students are going to attend.
Here, the admissions committee of which I’m a member, we review the application materials as they are received and we assess that package to determine if the student’s goals align with the program, to determine if they have demonstrated from their past via transcripts and letters of recommendations and their resume, if we believe that they’ll succeed in the program. And based upon that, we individually assess each one.
So competitive really isn’t applicable because we’re not comparing applicants to one another or assessing each application on its own merit.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Ann. And a relay question, I’ll address this to Monica, “How about the average admittance process?”
Monica Perez: Sure, average admittance process is about two to four weeks. This includes a couple of weeks to complete your enrollments package and then up to two weeks for a decision to be made on your file.
Female Speaker: Thank you, Monica. And this is the last question, I’ll address this to Ann, “Is there any work experience accreditations?”
Anne Marando: Credit’s not given for work experience now. And it’s just kind of related to what I was speaking to about waivers for PMP certification. We actually prefer that students have at least two or three years of work experience, again, not necessarily Project Management experience but a work experience for students entering the program. And we do have quite a broad range of students with varying points along the path of Project and Program Management, some with a few years and some with many more than that. But the important part of that, when I give credit for that work experience that you will be using that experience within the online courses for you to successfully participate in your courses, you’ll be sharing your work experiences, your best practices, your challenges and your lessons learned and so forth and you’ll learn collaboratively with your instructor and the fellow students talking about that experience.
Female Speaker: Thank you very much, Ann. Now, it looks like all the questions that we have for today and let’s go and conclude our session. For more information regarding the program, please contact Monica Perez, Enrollment Advisor at 877-960-2037 at extension 3631. Thank you all for attending today’s webinar. Enjoy the rest of your day.