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The EMBA Program’s innovative hybrid elective courses have become overwhelmingly popular among students due to their flexible format.

EMBA’s Innovative Hybrid Electives Continue to Soar in Popularity

EMBA’s Innovative Hybrid Electives Continue to Soar in Popularity

By Elizabeth Samson

2/8/2017 - Kellogg’s Executive MBA Program continues to provide a wide range of innovative elective options to students each year. To date, students can choose from 44 electives found in 14 different elective sets, 10 of which are international. One of the most popular developments among the electives is a new hybrid format consisting of both online and on-campus components.

International Finance and Strategic Brand Management are the newest electives offered to Executive MBA students as hybrid courses. While the partially online format has been one of the key draws, the two faculty members teaching these electives have drummed up excitement for EMBA students as well.

When asked about the students’ initial response to the hybrid courses, Associate Director of Academic Affairs Chris Bray explained, “We’ve seen that the students sometimes come into these courses with trepidation wondering about the curriculum and if it’s the same as what they’d experience in a traditional course. But, we’ve found that they’re pleasantly surprised once the class begins.”

Taught by Sergio Rebelo, International Finance was an existing course that had been received positively on campus for a number of years. In creating the hybrid class, Rebelo adapted a portion of the content to work online. The course provides students with working knowledge of international finance tools, exploring key topics such as the nature of foreign exchange risk, determination of exchange rates and the value of international investments, to name a few.

What Rebelo sought to do in the online portion is take approximately six of the 15 hours normally spent face-to-face covering the basic frameworks and tools, and offer it online in video format before the class meets in person. Once the students review the basic frameworks and tools from home, they arrive on campus for the application of those tools.

“It’s similar to flipping the classroom,” said Bray. “You have all of the materials at home to essentially teach yourself the basics. Then, you come to the classroom to learn with the other students and make better use of the time there. It’s a particularly beneficial format for this class because there’s a lot of technicality to the subject matter. The students really like having the opportunity to watch and re-watch the videos at home before the in-class component begins.”

A timeline and guidelines are set up for students to view the videos beginning four weeks prior to arriving on campus, essentially leaving them to their own devices so they can manage their time. Those who have become the most successful in this course have had the opportunity to review the material little by little according to the timeline.

The second hybrid course, Strategic Brand Management, is taught by Alexander Chernev to help students sharpen their skills in identifying and solving brand-related problems. Unlike International Finance, Strategic Brand Management is a new course offered for the first time in hybrid format. “It’s a class he [Alexander Chernev] wanted to do for a very long time,” said Bray. “So, he wrote the textbook and designed the slides used in class and at home.”

The goal of this course is to enhance the students’ knowledge of branding and brand management. Students learn to develop a strategic approach to understand the environment in which a company operates so they can recognize opportunities and threats, identify and solve brand-related marketing problems, and develop actionable brand management plans.

Strategic Brand Management also uses videos to build the frameworks for the class. When students get to the in-class component, they immediately participate in a case study based on the videos they’ve watched, essentially picking up exactly where they left off in the online portion.

International Finance and Strategic Brand Management were both met with an overwhelmingly positive response, becoming two of the three most highly rated electives last year. The hybrid courses began on the Miami campus in April 2016, and then were offered in Toronto in October 2016 and Dusseldorf in December 2016. Both courses will be offered again this year.


For those of you interested in sharpening your marketing strategy and entrepreneurship skills, Professor Chernev has just published The Business Model: How to Develop New Products, Create Market Value and Make the Competition Irrelevant. This book offers a systematic approach to identifying market opportunities and developing breakthrough business models. It outlines the key principles of business model generation, presents a value-based framework for developing viable new offerings, and provides a set of practical tools for creating a meaningful value proposition that drives market success.