Webinar: April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013, 12:00 PM EST

Date: Originally aired on April 18, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
Session Title: Master of Science in Management of Projects and Programs Information Session

Panelists: Frances Stearns, Director of Admissions and Student Services; Daniel Mongeon, Academic Advisor.

Description: In this information session, Brandeis University’s Master of Science in Management of Projects and Programs is discussed and alumna and a student panelist share their experience in the program.

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Megan: Hello and welcome to the Brandeis University Rabb School of Continuing Studies Graduate Professional Studies Master of Science in Management of Projects and Program general information session. Please note that your lines are muted. If you have questions during the presentation, please type them in to the chat box located in the control panel and click send to submit your question. After the webinar, you will be able to obtain a PDF of the slide presentation and an archive recording from the enrollment advisor whose contact information will be listed at the close of this webinar. Today, we have two panelists leading this webinar. We have firstly Frances Stearns. She is the Director of Admissions and Student Services at the Division of Graduate Professional Studies. In addition to admission, Frances coordinates graduation ceremonies and provide support to academic advisors. Frances has several years of experience in higher education admission and has been with Brandeis University for over six years.

And next we have Daniel Mongeon who is an Academic Advisor for Brandeis University and has been a part Of Brandeis for over two years. Daniel has a degree in communication from Emerson College. Prior to becoming an Academic Advisor, Daniel worked in the private sector developing content for online startup companies. The agenda for today’s webinar will be Frances Stearns providing an overview of the Master of Science in Management of Projects and Programs, discussing the learning outcomes in curriculum, addressing how the program is integrated with PMI and highlighting the faculty online experience and admissions classes while Daniel Mongeon will demonstrate the online learning component to show how online courses are run as well as discuss tuition and financial aid. We’ll conclude today’s webinar addressing any questions you may have so please submit your questions in the chat box located in the control panel. Now, I’ll turn it over to Frances.

Frances Stearns: Thank you, Megan. First, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about Brandeis University. We are located in Waltham, Massachusetts about 10 miles outside of Boston. We are a private co-educational non-sectarian institution named in honor of the US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Found in 1948, the members of the American-Jewish community. The university today combines the breadth and scope of a world class research university and the acceptability of a [inaudible] Art College. Brandeis is consistently ranked among the nation’s best universities recognized for the excellence of its teaching the quality and diversity of a student body and the outstanding research of its faculty. The Brandeis community representing more than 100 nation consists of 3400 undergraduates and 2000 graduate students more than 350 full time faculty in more than a 1000 administrators and staff members. Brandeis is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges refer to as NEASC and we have a strong commitment to academic excellence.

All of our instructors are working professionals in their field. They directly participate in the discussions and they personally grade all student work including participation and other course work. We have no separate discussion facilitators or teaching assistant. Our instructors receive comprehensive training on our online teaching approach and standards. This means that our instructors bring the industry experience right into the classroom, in the discussion and in their evaluation of student work. In addition to our faculty, all of our programs are guided by professional advisory board senior professions who review our curriculum and provide input related to the coverage of new topics and techniques across numerous industries. Their input helps to ensure that our courses equipped graduates with the skills that they are looking for when they hire a project and program management professionals.

Before we get into the specifics of this program I want to share a bit about how our courses and programs are run. All of our courses are 10 weeks in length and the Masters Degree required to be successful completion of 10 courses. There are seven required courses in three electives. We have three semesters that begin the fall, spring and summer. Our fall term months from mid September through the end of November, our spring term was from mid January through early April and our summer term from the end of May through early August. Students can enroll in one or two courses per term and there are no requirements to take courses in any given term. We generally recommend that if possible students should begin by taking one course, the Foundations of Project Management course. This increases the chances for smooth transition back into an academic setting while balancing other professional and personal commitments.

The Masters Degree must be completed within five years of one first course depending on how many courses the students decide to take each term the Masters Degree can be completed in just over one and a half years or up to the entire five years. We have a small class sizes kept to 20 from most of our online courses though a couple of courses such as professional communications and organizational leadership are kept smaller number. On average, students can expect to spend between 9 and 12 hours per week per course and that is a conservative number. The degree of one of seven Masters Degree programs that we offer here at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies. All of our masters programs are part time designed for adult working professionals looking to advance their field. This Masters Program was launched in 2003 and has been available online since 2008. The program was among the first credit bearing Masters Degrees in Project Management to be offered by a major US University. Including our May 2012 graduates there are 106 Masters Degree recipients and they are coming over 100 matriculated students in the program. This particular slide illustrates several designing themes of our program.

First, the program is balance. Effective project and program managers have balanced of hard skills meaning more technical skills such as planning, estimating and budgeting as well as soft skills such as leading, negotiating and communication. The course of our Masters curriculum has a design to narrow this balance. Next, the curriculum is relevant. Our inspectors and professional advisory board members guide our program requirements and recommend additional courses such as special topics. We want to make sure that our courses cover skills that are in demand. Another theme is that our program is affordable meaning that the project and program management techniques address by the curriculum maybe applied within a context of numerous industries from software to financial services, construction, pharma, nonprofit and so forth covering fastest of management leadership and technology. And finally, our curriculum is adaptable meaning that the techniques covered in the courses maybe tailored based on an organization side, structure and culture. In fact, in our courses we discuss how techniques must be adopted to become cost effective, workable approaches for their projects. It’s very much in applied approach.

The program outcomes of the management a project in program Masters Degree are shown here. All of our programs in courses have outcomes which indicate the skills that students will be accepted to demonstrate upon program and course completion. Our focus and outcomes aligns well with our practical approach. We hope that students will be able to leave our courses and readily apply related concepts and places of work. This program outcomes encapsulates essential skills for today’s project and program managers from managing a project from initiation to closure communicating in all levels through an organization ensuring that project presents contribute to organizational strategic objective and leading teams to the tailoring and application of project management technique on project that varies size, scope, virtual collaboration needs and complexity.

The required courses of the program are shown here. The first course we asked students to take is Foundations to Project Management preferably alone with no other courses. This course is accurately named. Is probational in nature covering many of the core techniques of project management and a broad overview incorporated both hard and soft skills. Students will see that many of the topics introduce in long module or weak of the foundation course and then explored in more depth in another course or elective course. Of the remaining core courses, three focus on soft or into personal skills such as professional communication, organizational leadership and decision making and negotiating conflict resolution. Three of the required courses focus on the hard or technical skills aligned with advance scheduling, risk management and program management. Note that while the primary focus of any given course may beyond harder soft skills in each course the need for the integration is highlighted. The six electives of the program are listed here while the core courses have skills that we believe are essential for all program and project managers. The elective allows students to focus on particular areas of interest. For example, in some organizations project to program managers are responsible or working with venders and managing contract so the particular [ph] contract management course maybe interest to those students. Agile project management is helpful to those to work in organizations that are adopting agile method for some or all of their project.

We also have a special topics in project management elective course. This allows us to introduce new topics into the program based on recent industry trends or particular application areas. For example, we have special courses in managing government project and contract, project management in biotech and life sciences, event management and business analysis for the project manage. Additional special topics courses are currently being planned for 2014. From the six electives, the student selects three to complete the Masters Degree. One applicable many of our courses incorporate PMI standard including the PHIM box, the Program and Portfolio Management Standard, and so forth into their courses providing a common of vocabulary through which we can speak to project management processes and techniques. The majority of instructor strategic courses in the program are PMP and in fact many of our students are as well. We have chosen to not to become a registered educational provider with the PMI. The PMI standards for the most part focus on what is involved with Project Management while our courses focus on the how that is the techniques that can be tailored to best meet the needs of the project, program and organization.

Our curriculum has the flexibility to cover a broad line of topics and techniques not address by the PMI. Our accreditation with the New England Association of School and Colleges is recognized as an official accrediting body of the Department of Education. This better reflects our commitment in providing a rigorous curriculum for project and program management professionals looking to advance within the field. In addition, we are a graduate program providing students with the opportunity to earn a Masters Degree which is very different from professional training. Our course and program outcomes focus on the advancement of project management professionals not on the attainment of a credential. That said, courses in the program do qualify for professional development unit. The PDU is needed for practitioners studying for their project management credential. In addition, we offer noncredit PMP exam prep course as an option for students who wish to take the exam at some point in their future.

Next, I’d like to speak briefly about our online approach and will have the demo of an online course shortly. Student’s access the courses through our quick site in a learning management to some based on motto [ph] which infer to as LATTE, Learning and Technology Teaching Environment. Instructors post lecture materials and other resources for each module of course. Students and the instructor engagement discussions throughout the week. There is flexibility that students can log in at any time to complete discussion post and assignment so there’s no particular set day or time to participate, however there is a weekly pace with discussion post do it designated points throughout the week. In this particular environment, students and the instructors for each module key concept and share professional experiences with one another. There is no such thing as a quiet learner as online participation is a core part of our approach and in fact online participation is associated with every 30% of the student final grade.

In addition to the asynchronous discussion, many of our courses incorporate the use of synchronous tools available to students for using group projects, live online presentations and virtual office hours. Such tools in which the WebEx tool that we’re all using now allows for live interaction among small groups of students. For example, the negotiating conflict resolution course students such as in live virtual sessions with other students and the instructor conducing role plays, mimicking scenarios that require strong negotiation and conflict resolution technique. Finally, students are encouraged to share issues experience at work and to apply techniques covered in the course to their projects. At this time, I’m going to transition right over to Daniel Mongeon to give a brief demonstration of an online course.

Daniel Mongeon: Thank you Frances. Good afternoon everybody and of course [ph] thank you for my introduction. If you’ll bear with me for just a moment you’re going to notice that we’re going to — with more presentation for just one moment and I’m going to pull up a quick demonstration. If you take a look at what you should be seeing right now is what our online format looks like. It’s probably different from other institutions online format. This is ours. If you look at the blocks on the left and on the right these are the resources that support you during — while you’re taking the course. Your help section participants, the various resources here and the actual meet, I guess you could say, is directly in the middle. A lot of folk actually they tend to ask are our the lectures recorded and then put up by video, the answer is no. Generally speaking, if you look you can see I’m going to go down to week one. If you take a look at the checklist what would be the first week. All your readings, your postings and assignments are laid out here. Okay, you have your readings, your postings and assignments.

Now, all of these done are done primarily student forums through our forums and unlike the — an online discussion forum on another site. The only time that we would use — this is an opportunity [ph] that we don’t use video in our courses, but primarily that are used in courses such as professional communications or negotiating where you have to do a presentation you use a tool not unlike the one we’re using today, WebEx, but the one we uses to collaborate — [inaudible] collaborate and professors occasionally also use those to set up meetings times, but for the most part this is how we use forums to — for example if you look at this is a sample of a discussion that your instructor would post up, okay and you are then required to — this would take the place of a classroom discussion, so to speak so the topic is posted and from there folks can respond, okay and you are required to classroom participation as Frances were saying makes a large part of your grade so you are required to contribute significantly to these discussions.

Alright, in terms of communicating with your instructor and with your fellow students we use the quick mail function. We can select the students that are in your class, your instructor and that tell you a contact and then you can also look at the various forms that we have such as the — as the private forum where you can speak with your instructor. It is a social forum where you can speak with your other classmates depending on any topic pretty much, okay. Your assignments, they are pretty straightforward to upload completed work and then the instructor provide feedback in the same time and before we actually start the course before folks take their first course we provide a noncredit distance learning orientation course for our students. It’s self paced and again there’s no cause to it which introduces everybody to the online format and how to effectively use it though again this is just kind of brief look at what our courses look like. I’m going to return back to our presentation and briefly hand this over to Frances.

Frances Stearns: Thank you Daniel for that brief demo. As we move on, shown here the documents required for admissions to the Masters Degree. To be eligible to apply for admission students have hold a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredit US institution or its equivalent. There are no [inaudible] or other standardized tests. In addition to that eligibilities, students must complete an online application, submit a nonrefundable fee of $50, they may upload a current resume, a completed statement of goals and a letter of recommendation from a current supervisor or previous faculty member. Students who have studied outside the US are require to have their transcripts submit [ph] evaluated by a single organization which we refer to as education credentials evaluator and of course that course evaluation is required. [inaudible] is only required for applicants whose first language is not English or have not graduated from an English-speaking institution within an English-speaking country. TEF scores should be no older than five years. For further information regarding admission requirements, please contact the enrollment advisor that in the contact info will be located at the end of the presentation. I’m going to hand it back over to Daniel now to further discuss tuition, student services and financing option.

Daniel Mongeon: Thanks once again Frances. In terms of student services, as Megan mentioned I am an academic advisor. What that means is that I currently support all new matriculated students in the management of project and programs as well as students in some of our other graduate programs. I service the main point of contact at Brandeis to your folks that have accepted into the program. I reach out to my students regularly to support them in the course planning and selection. I guide folks to the online registration system. I share news and reminders from the office. People can expect to see a lot of emails from me and phone calls depending on what people prefer. I also help everybody prepare for the start of each term especially the newest students to make sure that the distance learning orientation course has been completed. That folks have acquired to the texts, other materials and general have everything you need to begin the courses and to support you through the term. Down the road, I provided systems in graduation planning. The tuition is paid at the time which in register for courses term by term. The current tuition for the academic year 2013 to 2014 is $370 with a cost of credit hour of a $1023. If you take a look at the research and then you have done your own research compared the tuition of similarly high-caliber schools our tuition falls below the average cost to complete a Masters Degree.

Now during the admissions process and following acceptance, folks may have questions about financing option and many of our student use employer sponsor tuition assistance with their employers other paying upfront or some all of their tuition or providing students with the reimbursement following successful course completion. What I would suggest is contacting the personnel office of your organization to determine what options maybe available to you. Another option is by federal financial aid to be eligible for the Federal Stafford Loan. You must be accepted into the program and registered in at least two courses in a semester. Private student loans are another option as a military benefit. Note for the latter that while GPS accept funds from the Veteran Affairs Bill. At this time, we do not participate in Yellow Ribbon Program unfortunately, however, you elect to financially degree I can definitely support you through your daily profits and will applicable point you to universities financial aid office if you pursue that option. I am now going to turn the mic back over to Megan. She is going to moderate Q&A session for the remainder of our time.

Megan: Thank you, Daniel. We want to remind everyone if you have any questions, please type them in the chat box located on the control panel. We also rely to make you aware of some upcoming important dates for the fall term. The application deadline is July 15th, open registration is August 13th through September 9th and the fall term starts September 18th. Thank you for submitting your questions and let’s begin with the first question. I had a question directly to Frances or Daniel it says, “Is it necessary to get the [inaudible] before applying?”

Frances Stearns: Thanks, Megan. I’ll take that. The [inaudible] is require part of the application process. It doesn’t necessarily need to be taken prior to submitting an application, but it is part of the admissions process so you may submit your application and begin requesting transcript in that point that you should start — that’s the time to take [inaudible] and your enrollment advisor can certainly speak to you more in depth about how that timing can play out in regards to the remainder of your admission requirements.

Megan: Okay, thank you Frances. The next question is directly to Daniel, “How long does it take to complete the program?”

Daniel Mongeon: Thanks very, Megan. Students can take one or two courses per term and we have a deadline, so to speak. The degree has to be completed within five years of the first course so with those options the degree can be completed anywhere between five terms which is about a year and a half and five years.

Megan: Okay, thanks Daniel. Another question directed to either Daniel or Frances, “How is the admissions process to the program generally decided how large of that factor are the undergraduate grade and what do I have to do in the professional world?”

Frances Stearsn: So, the admissions committee typically looks for about two years of work experience — professional work experience whether it’s directly in project management or in a related field in all aspects of in applicants admission materials are equally evaluated. So, if you have a strong, for example, an applicant has a strong work experience, we receive the lower GPA in their undergraduate studies 20 years ago one will effect the other. So, they are evaluated equally across the board.

Megan: Okay, thank you Frances. Another question directly to you Frances, “Is the business learning degree any different from those earned on campus at Brandeis University?”

Frances Stearns: Thanks, Megan. That’s a good question. That’s one that we actually get very often and no. The degree students earn from Brandeis — is from Brandeis University and the Rabb School. The diploma itself as well as the transcript makes no distinction about the program being delivered online or students taking courses online. Our program grew out of an on-campus program and the curriculum in terms of course content outcomes are same regardless of delivery method.

Megan: Okay, thank you. I have another question that says, “Is the program in quarters has many credits per course on average?”

Frances Stearns: So, the program we are for courses in three terms. So, spring, summer and fall and each course within the program are three credits, three graduate credits, so you could take one course in the fall term which starts in September, complete that and then register for your next course in the spring time which would start in January.

Megan: Okay. The next question is for Daniel, “Will I would see course material for the program our textbooks and materials online?”

Daniel Mongean: Thank you, Megan. Our website will you indicate you acquired in recommended textbooks for the courses. These maybe purchased to the brand like bookstore and ship to your home or you may acquire them on your own and all other courses continue to be available to your course site. You also have access to online university library which include text, periodical journals and so forth. This also worth mentioning that through our bookstore there are others to some online versions of the text and we’re starting to see — if you have a leader like a [inaudible] we’re starting to see versions of our books come through that way as well. In addition, their software Microsoft project is needed for a couple of classes and you can get that software through a discount software if you’re accepted to the program which you accept and you can get discounted software to joined.com [ph].

Megan: Okay, great thank you Daniel. The next question is for Frances or Daniel, “Is there a deadline on completing a given course once you started?”

Daniel Mongean: Each — this is Daniel, each term lasts 10 weeks and so you have the 10 weeks to complete that course.

Frances Stearns: So, although it’s — and I’ll chime in here with Daniel, although it is online it is structured in a typical semester pattern. So, there is a start date that you — that a course will begin and then 10 weeks from that start date the course will complete and within each week during the term there are specific deadlines for posting completing assignments, although you can log in at any time within a given week there are deadlines.

Megan: Okay, thank you Frances and Daniel. Next question is for either one of you, “Does Brandeis offer a course waver should an applicant already be a certified PMP from CMI?”

Frances Stearns: Thanks, Megan. Again, another common question that we do receive. We do not offer course waver to those students or applicants that are PMP certified. Some of our students are commonly PMP certified at the time that they apply while others aren’t. To realize our program outcomes, students must successfully complete our courses and demonstrate a course level outcomes.

Megan: Okay, thank you Frances. The next question is for Daniel, “Are any credit hours transferrable if the student has a Masters certificate from another university?”

Daniel Mongeon: Thanks, Megan. Yes, matriculated students are allowed to apply maximum of six transfer credits towards a Masters Degree Program. The credit must be a graduate level and from originally accredit in United States Institution of higher learning. We take a look at the credits and we take a look at the classes that you previously taken. A transfer credit is awarded only for courses that are equivalent in the scope and brought to you courses that are offered by our program and judge by the program share. Grades received must be B minus or higher and here’s a big caveat, courses cannot be considered for transfer credit if they are a part of a previously completed degree or certificate program.

Megan: Thank you Daniel and one last question, “Is there any work experience credit given?”

Frances Stearns: Thanks, Megan. Credit is not given for work experience. We do require every two to three years work experience for students entering the particular program. Experience is a necessary component for successful completion or participation in our courses, our student share best practices, challenges and lessons learned from their own particular professional experiences and if a student does not have that it takes away from the learning environment and learning from one another. So, although we do require it or we recommend it we don’t give credit for it towards the degree.

Megan: Thank you, Frances. That concludes our question and answer sessions. If your question was not addressed, you will be — enrollment advisor will respond to you individually. Thank you again for your questions. Again, I would like to remind you about our upcoming dates. The fall application deadline is July 15th, open registration is August 13th through September 9th and the fall term starts September 18th. For more information on the Masters of Science in Management of projects and program, tuition and financial aid, you can speak directly with Ryan Dagnall [ph] at (877) 960-2037 at extension for 015. Thank you for attending today’s webinar and enjoy the rest of your day. The Brandeis General Information session has come to a closed, thank you.


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