Ease of Online Learning Boosts Northwestern EMDC Program

The flexibility of the program’s offerings gives students a chance to learn valuable skills anytime, anywhere.

EMDC uses a combination of sequenced video lectures and interactive webinars to create its 12-course program.

In today's fast-paced world, it can be difficult for the next generation of leaders in the design and construction industry to carve out time for in-person, on-campus educational experiences while maintaining a busy work schedule.  

Enter Northwestern’s Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program, which gives interested parties both in the U.S. and around the world the chance to connect with like-minded individuals, learn from industry leaders and earn an advanced degree that will propel their careers to the next level. By turning the traditional classroom on its ear, EMDC has opened the door for talented individuals in the industry to gain valuable skills by simply using an internet connection.

"I always enjoy the online classes and, in some ways, find it more interactive than the traditional classroom method. This is true of every class I have taken in this program so far," said current EMDC student Heather Skaife. "The instructors approach it with a 'round table' format, and not as a lecture, so the students spend as much time talking as the professor does, sometimes more."

EMDC uses a combination of sequenced video lectures and interactive webinars to create its 12-course program, which consists of four core courses that include Human Resource Management, Leadership and Organization, Advanced Business Strategy, and eight elective courses that touch on areas from public works administration to Lean construction.

Students, who typically take two courses per quarter, have been drawn to EMDC's flexibility and structure. They can take courses from anywhere in the world. Since the recorded video lectures can be viewed at any time before the associated webinar session, business trips, long car rides and even a trip to Starbucks can be an opportunity to log on and connect with the program.

The follow-up online webinars are an opportunity for students and teachers to "converse" via interactive chat and create a connection that mimics the classroom experience. It’s an element of the program that many graduates look back upon with fondness.

"When I first started the program, I felt that this online method couldn't be an alternative to in-person interaction," said Mehmet Kicikoglu (EDMC ’19). "However, my thoughts changed as I progressed through the program.

"I was able to develop personal relationships with my classmates through group projects we did in each class. I also appreciated the professional diversity in my cohort; some of our webinars turned into a big experience-sharing platform where even the teachers learned from the class."

The faculty associated with the EMDC program is drawn from a wide range of disciplines, generally with 20-plus years of work in the design and construction industry. Their hands-on experience allows them to shape the courses and complement the material presented in the video lectures through group projects, guest seminars, student projects and more.

The idea is to create the same type of interaction students would experience in the classroom, and in the process, build a bridge to an instant professional network willing and able to support and amplify the work of fellow graduates.

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