Webinar: February 13, 2018

Date: Originally aired on February 13, 2018

Session Title: M.S. in Project and Program Management Information Session

Panelists: Daniel Mongeon, Academic Advisor.; Mariadel Kostuch, Enrollment Advisor.

Description: In this information session, our panelists talk about Brandeis University’s M.S. in Project and Program Management and how the program can prepare you for your career.

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Mariadel: Good afternoon and welcome to our Brandeis University webinar on the Master’s of Science and Project and Program Management. My name is Mariadel Kostuch, and I will be your moderator this afternoon.

We are … but before we get started, I just want to cover a few housekeeping items. Please note that you are in listen mode only, however, we encourage you to ask questions during the presentation, so just type your questions into the Q&A box and we will answer your questions at the end of the presentation during our designated time.

Unfortunately our guest speaker, Nicole Kirkpatrick, had an emergency come up and was unable to attend our webinar today, but we’re so fortunate to have Daniel [Mongeon 00:00:52] with us. He is a student adviser for the Graduate Professional Services and he will be narrating the presentation for us.

Welcome Daniel.

We seem to be having some difficulties at the current time so I’m just going to go ahead and move on because our agenda for today is … we’re going to learn about Brandeis University, we’ll talk about the Graduate Professional Studies, the Master’s in Program and Project Management, and the Master’s Degree in Learning Outcomes. We’ll have review the motivations for students attending the program. We’ll discuss the on-line experience, the admission requirements, tuition, financing options, and finally the Q&A.

The first question is, why Brandeis University? Brandeis University is a world class university, we were ranked by prestigious publications such U.S. News & World Report, as number 34. But additionally, Brandeis is also a member of the Association of American Universities. I’d like to stress this because this is a very elite group and there are only 60 universities who have been invited to attend and become members of this association. We are also accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and have a very rich history since we were founded in 1948.

Then, why Brandeis GPS?, which is the Graduate Professional Studies. Well, first and foremost because it gives you the opportunity to experience Brandeis standards of excellence. You’re gonna have the opportunity to learn online, but what’s so critical about the online environment is that you have the opportunity to work at your own pace because it’s an asynchronous online environment, so you can access the classroom any time that’s good for you.

We do want to make sure that you’re engaged and collaborate with the instructors and with the other students, so we do keep the class size small, to actually 20. Of course, you will receive that personal support that you’re looking for.

One other unique opportunity for students is that you can complete up to two courses before applying for the admissions into the Master’s Degree and matriculating into that degree program. This provides you the opportunity to make sure that, that online environment is what you’re looking for and that you feel comfortable in that environment. And actually have a lot of students who are international students, and can start the classes while they’re waiting for their transcripts, their international transcripts to be evaluated. So this is a great opportunity for all of our students.

Why the M.S. in Project and Program Management? Well you see that the first class you’re gonna have is that Foundations of Project Management, and then built upon that foundation will be a very balanced curriculum. It’s going to cover, not only the interpersonal skills like the soft skills of negotiating, organizational leadership, and professional communications, but also going to give you the education that you need for those hard technical skills like, Program Management Theory and Practice. What’s interesting about that class also is that, it’s not just how you do the program management, but you’re going to have an opportunity to learn the theory behind what you’re doing. Also, Management for Process and Programs, and finally, Advanced Scheduling for the courses.

With that Master’s of Science in Program and Project Management overview, you need to understand that it’s a balanced, it’s gonna be relevant, it’s portable. The education that you receive in this program will you afford you the opportunity to take the skills you’ve learned and utilize it on the other side.

We do have Daniel with us now, so Daniel, if you will be ready to go ahead and talk about the Master’s of Science in Program Management Overview, we’ll go ahead and get started.

Hello Daniel?

Daniel: Yes, Mariadel, I’m here.

Mariadel: Okay, thank you so much for joining us. We were just going-

Daniel: Absolutely.

Mariadel: -to discuss the Master’s of Science in Program and Project Management Overview.

Daniel: Sure.

Mariadel: If you would take us through that slide, we’d appreciate it.

Daniel: Absolutely. I apologize for logging in a little bit late, first of all.

Speaking through this slide, it illustrates several defining features of our program. First, the program is balanced. Effective project and program managers have a balance hard skills, meaning more technical skills, such as planning, estimating and budgeting. As well as soft skills, such as leading, negotiating and communicating. The courses of our Master’s Degree curriculum have been designed to mirror this balance.

Also, the curriculum is relevant, so our instructors and professional advisory board members guide our program requirements and recommend additional courses, such as special topics. We want to make sure our courses cover skills that are in demand. When applicable, many of our courses incorporate PMI standards including the project management body of knowledge, the program and portfolio management standards, and so forth into their program … into their courses I mean. Providing a common vocabulary through which we can speak to project management processes and techniques.

I just want to make a note that while in line with the [inaudible 00:07:52], our courses are not bound to PMI standards, but this does set us apart from other programs allowing us to focus on emerging techniques and how they can best tailored to meet the needs of project, program, and organization.

Another theme is that our program is portable, meaning that the Project and Program Management techniques addressed by the curriculum may be applied within the context of numerous industries, from software to financial services, construction, pharma, not for profit, and so forth, covering the facets of management, leadership and technology.

Finally, our curriculum is adaptable, meaning that the techniques covered in the courses may be tailored based on their organization size, structure, and culture. In fact, in our courses, we do discuss how techniques must be adapted to become cost effective, workable approaches for their projects, and so it’s very much an applied approach.

Taking a look at the slide that we’re currently on right now. If you want to see how our courses are run, all of courses are 10 weeks in length, and the Master’s Degree does require the successful completion of all 10 courses. There are seven required courses and three electives. Our upcoming Spring Two Session starts in April and we offer four 10 week sessions per academic year. Generally speaking, the sessions all start in … like I said, the next one is in April, that’s Session Two, the one following that will begin in July, then October, and then back around to January. We’re currently in Spring One Session.

We usually recommend that students start by taking one course, which is the Foundations of Project Management course. This increases the chances for a pretty smooth transition back into an academic setting, while balancing other professional and personal responsibilities. I will point out, there’s no requirement to take courses each session, the Master’s Degree however, must be completed within five years of ones first course. Depending on how many courses a student decides to take each session, the Master’s Degree can be completed in two to five years.

As mentioned, we have small class sizes, they’re capped at 20 for most of our online courses, though a couple of courses, such as Professional Communications and Leadership are capped at smaller numbers. On average, students can expect to spend between nine and 12 hours per week, per course, though I generally tend to have students err on the larger side of that spectrum, so plan for about 12 hours per week, per course.

Next I’d like to take a look at the core and the elective courses of the program. You see here all of our required courses, the seven required courses. The first course we ask students to take is the Foundations of Project Management, which I just mentioned. 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, incorporating both hard and soft skills. Students will see that many of the topics introduced in one module, or week, of the foundations course are then explored more in depth in another core or elective course.

Of the remaining core courses, three focus primarily on the soft, or interpersonal skills, such as Professional Communications, Negotiating and Conflict Resolution, and the Human Side of Project Leadership. Then three of the required courses focus on the harder, technical skills aligned with Project Scheduling and Control, Risk Management, and Program Management. Please note that while the primary focus of a given course may be on hard or soft skills, within each course, the need for the integration is highlighted. Again, illustrating how our courses and program are balanced.

Next, we’ll take a look at the electives and we’ll see how they follow the balance and relevant themes we’ve already been discussing. The electives of the program are listed here. While the core courses encapsulate the skills that we believe are essential for all project and program managers, the electives allow students to focus more on particular areas of interest. For example, in some organizations, project and program managers are responsible for working with vendors and managing contracts, so the Procurement and Contract Management course may be of interest to those students.

Agile Project Management is helpful to those who work in organizations that are adopting agile methods for some or all of their projects. We also have a Special Topics in Project Management elective course. What that does is, allows us to introduce new topics into the program based on recent industry trends or particular application areas. For example, we have special topics courses in Managing Government Projects and Contracts, Project Management in Biotech and Life Sciences. We have talked about offering special topics in event management, as well as, we do offer a special topic in Business and Requirements Analysis. We round out the electives with options on Managing Virtual and Global Teams, Data Science and Analytics, and Organizational Leadership. From these electives, students will select three to complete the Master’s Degree.

Next I’d like to have everybody take a look at the overall outcomes of the degree. The program outcomes of the Project and Program Management Master’s Degree are shown here. All of our programs and courses have outcomes which indicate the skills that students will be expected to demonstrate upon program and course completion.

Our focus on outcomes aligns well with our practical approach. We hope that students will be able to leave our courses and readily apply related concepts in their places of work. This programs outcomes encapsulate, essential skills for today’s project and program managers, from managing a project from initiation to closure, communicating at all levels through an organization, ensuring that projects and programs contribute to organizational strategic objects, and leading teams through tailoring and application of project management techniques, projects of various size, scope, virtual collaboration needs, and complexity.

Now we frequently hear students say that they’re able to apply techniques learned in the classroom to their places of work, sometimes almost immediately. Our students come to the program to advance in their fields, to differentiate themselves, to learn from the best practices of the diverse student and instructor population. Since our programs are designed for, and taught by, working professionals, often students are able to gain strategic perspectives in the context of the project management curriculum. Here’s an example of one of many students testimonials echoing some of these sentiments, the ability to apply concepts to the work place. Just take a second so everybody can look at that.

As you many have discovered, many individuals are responsible for project management tasks without having the explicit title of Project Manager. Within our program, you’ll encounter students with a variety of titles, a small sample of which are shown here. In general, our students have anywhere from five to 30 years of experience in various industries and we feel that this mix brings great value to the online discussions as students share their unique perspectives and learn from each other, as well as from the instructor.

In terms of the overall online experience. The way the courses work is that students access their courses through our course sites in a learning management system based on Moodle. Instructors post lecture materials and other resources for each module of the course, and students and the instruction engage in discussions throughout the week. There is flexibility in that students can log in at any time to complete discussion posts and assignments. There’s really no set day or time to participate. There is a weekly pace, with discussion posts due at designated points throughout the week, but students can essentially take their online class with them wherever they are.

In this environment, students and the instructor explore each modules key concepts and share professional experiences with one and other. There’s no such thing as a quite online learner, that’s the way we view it. As online participation is a core part of our approach, and in fact, online participation is associated with a least 30% of a students final grade. Students interact with one and other from across the country and global.

In addition to the asynchronous discussions, there are many opportunities to form connections. Our online classes have social discussion forums as well as private forums for one on one discussions with your instructor. Many of our courses incorporate the use of synchronous tools available to students for use in group projects, live online presentations, and virtual office hours, just for a couple of examples. For example, in Negotiating and Conflict Resolution course, students participate in live virtual sessions with other students and the instructor as well, and they conduct role plays that mimic scenarios requiring strong negotiation and conflict resolution techniques.

Finally, students are encouraged to share issues they experience at work and to apply the techniques covered in the course of their projects, both through the discussions and through submitted assignments. Through their experience in the classes, students tend to have a broader support network within GPS as well, and I want to talk to that support network a little bit.

So what we’ve done is, we’ve developed a multi-tiered support network that ensures a rich and rewarding experience. The personalized attention from your instructors will engage and challenge you, they’re also available to provide support and coaching at a personal level that’s difficult to obtain anywhere else. Our instructors enjoy the mentorship aspect of teaching, helping students engage, not only with the discussions and assignments of the course, but with their broader professional challenges as well. As mentioned briefly on a previous slide, in the context of personalized support, students work with an enrollment advisor who can answer your questions about the program and the enrollment process, and guide you through assembling a successful application.

Once accepted, an assigned student advisor, that would be me, supports you throughout your time in the program. I tend to share important announcements from our school, provide important reminders for course selection and registration, assist in any questions you may as you navigate your way to degree completion.

Also, to help orient you to our online approach, our learning management system, and online learning techniques, our online learning team provides a non-credit orientation course available at the start of each term at no cost. The team is also available to address any questions or concerns that you may have about learning online at Brandeis.

Finally, we provide extensive technical support to make sure your learning experience is as easy and convenient as possible and we have weekday evening and weekend hours provided through a centralized help desk to assist with technical questions should they arise.

And with that, I’d like to turn things back to Mariadel.

Mariadel: Well thank you very much Daniel, that was tremendously helpful.

Daniel: Thank you.

Mariadel:I do want to talk, also now, about the admissions requirements because to apply, it’s pretty straightforward, you actually just complete the online application, pay the application fee, submit a resume, your statement of goals, and I encourage all of you to spend some time making sure that you have that statement of goals correct because we like to have it over 500 words and I will review it before we submit it to the admission committee. You need one letter of recommendation, your official transcripts, and if you do have international education, we need to have either a TOEFL or the ECE course by course evaluation for the grades.

As far as the tuition is concerned, compared to other programs, we are very reasonably priced. The tuition, per course for the academic year of 2017-18 is $3,400 with a cost per credit hour of $1,133. Payments must be made at the time of the course registration and at the start of each program.

We do have some financing options that are available for you. A lot of our students have the opportunity to utilize employer sponsored tuition assistance, but we have opportunities for you to utilize the financial aid and any alternative financing. I will provide for you the contact information for our Financial Aid Department. Some other students will utilize private student loans and here at Brandeis we also do accept the Military Benefits.

We do have one question so far, and Daniel hopefully … we only have time for one, so this will work out nicely. We have … can you relay any examples of students using the program in their workplace? I know we saw that one student quote and her expression, but, can you just tell us one program?

Daniel: Sure, I’ve had people that have gone back, taking anything that they’ve picked up in courses such as Risk Management, for example, and being able to apply that directly to the current role that they’re in. I’ve heard people as well speak to the … what they’ve picked up in negotiating. For example, in Conflict Resolution, in the office space, not even just for a complex negotiation of some sort, but just in dealing with the everyday office conflicts that you might experience. I’ve had people relay back to me that they have used the techniques that they’ve learned in the courses, pretty rapidly, within their workplace.

Mariadel: Well that’s wonderful Daniel. Thank you so much for that. Now, for everyone, there are a couple of important dates, and one of them is March 14th of 2018, and this will be the application deadline for that April 11th start date. Of course, you may contact me, your enrollment advisor, at any time prior to that start date and my contact information is … and I will send you all an email with my specific contact information listed on the email. Again, this is Mariadel, and Daniel, thank you again so much for sharing your expertise with us, and I look forward to speaking with you all in the future.
Have a good day.

Daniel: Thank you. You too.

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