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Frequently Asked Questions



Overview


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In The Course


Tuition


Plus This


What is the altMBA?

The altMBA is an online leadership and management workshop.

Founded in 2015 by bestselling author Seth Godin, the altMBA uses digital tools like Slack, WordPress and Zoom to engage a group of students in an intense four-week process. In 2015, students from 13 countries worldwide have participated.

Each session of the workshop is led by our trained coaches, who engage with students in individual and group work. We generally have a ratio of one coach for every ten students. During the workshop, each student publishes the results of the 13 assigned projects on the public altMBA site. Over one session of the workshop, more than 50,000 messages were exchanged between students and coaches in Slack. The program is synchronous, with regular deadlines, group discussions, and face-to-face video calls. It is entirely based online, with students participating from their home or workplace.

The tuition for the program is $3,000. Attending students include freelancers, independent professionals, entrepreneurs and corporate employees. Represented brands include Microsoft, charity:water, Nike, The Red Cross, Coca Cola, Whole Foods and others. For a more complete list of companies and alumni, visit: our Alumni Spotlight

The course is directed by Wes Kao, and admission is by application only. Check out the bios of our leadership team, and read WK’s letter to you.

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Where else can I learn more about altMBA?

Take a look at our alumni testimonials or our in-depth alumni spotlight case studies. Find out more about course specifics here.

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What are the important dates and deadlines?

Important dates to note:

altMBA1: June 15 - July 14, 2015 SESSION FULL
altMBA2: September 31 - October 3, 2015 SESSION FULL
altMBA3: January 11 - February 8, 2016 SESSION FULL
altMBA4: March 1 - March 31, 2016 SESSION FULL
altMBA5: April 18 - May 17, 2016 SESSION FULL
altMBA6: August 1 - August 31, 2016 SESSION FULL
altMBA7: September 12 - October 11, 2016 SESSION FULL
altMBA8: January 16 - February 15, 2017 SESSION FULL
altMBA9: January 16 - February 15, 2017 SESSION FULL
altMBA10, April 24 - May 23, 2017 SESSION FULL
altMBA11, April 24 - May 23, 2017 SESSION FULL
altMBA12, July 10 - August 8, 2017 SESSION FULL
altMBA13, July 10 - August 8, 2017 SESSION FULL
altMBA14, October 2 - October 31 SESSION FULL
altMBA15, October 2 - October 31 SESSION FULL

altMBA14/15 Fall: October 2 - October 31 SESSIONS FULL
Rolling admissions: between now and July 14
First priority deadline: Friday, July 14
First priority decisions released: Thursday, July 20
First priority deadline to accept (tuition deadline): Thursday, July 27
Early decision deadline to accept (tuition deadline): Thursday, August 3
Workshop start date: Monday, October 2
Workshop end date: Tuesday, October 31

altMBA16/17 Winter: January 15 - February 13 APPLICATIONS OPEN
Rolling admissions: between now and October 19
First Priority deadline: Thursday, October 19
First Priority decisions released: Wednesday, October 25
First Priority payment deadline: Wednesday, November 1
Early decision deadline: Thursday, November 2
Regular decision deadline: Thursday, November 23
All admissions decisions released: Monday, November 27
Deadline to accept (tuition deadline): Tuesday, December 5
Workshop start date: Monday, January 15th, 2018
Workshop end date: Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

As a reminder, the weekly group meeting schedule is: Tu/Thurs 6-9pm, Sunday all day. Students use other hours for solo work. These meeting times are non-optional and real-time with other students.

For the meeting times above, students can choose to work in one of these time zones: PT, CT, ET, or London

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Why do you have three deadlines? What’s the difference between the first priority, early, and regular deadlines?

We give priority to early applicants who know they want to do the altMBA and take the leap.

If you are eager to secure a spot in an upcoming session, the benefit for applying the first priority round is that (a) we give priority to applicants who apply early, and (b) you get to find out your admissions decision within one week, earlier than everyone else.

For early and regular applicants, you have a little more time to apply. Again, the sooner you apply, the sooner we can review your application and see how it fits into our overall class. Early and regular applicants will find out their decisions on the same day.

To see specific deadlines, see these dates and deadlines to mark on your calendar.

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How do I apply to altMBA?

After reading this FAQ, you can find the application here.

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What is the calendar like?

altMBA is a 4 week sprint built around projects. We release project prompts on Monday morning.

NOTE: There are real-time, non-optional meetings with your learning group on Tuesday/Thursday 6-9pm and Sunday all day. The meetings may not last the entire time, but please be sure you are able to carve out those blocks of time.

Good news: all the group meetings are in your cohort’s time zone. What is your cohort’s time zone? You can pick between PT, CT, ET, or London time zones. You can choose one time zone for the duration of the program.

Here is the pattern that repeats for each project:

  1. Project due at midnight
  2. Comments due at 8pm – You’re commenting on the work of 5 people, and waiting for comments from 5 people.
  3. Reflection summary (RS) due at 8pm – After seeing the comments from your peers, you reflect and write a ‘reflection summary.’

Monday: Prompts for the week released in the morning, comments from previous project due by 8pm.

Tuesday: RS due at 8pm. Learning group meeting from 6-9pm. Project due at midnight.

Wednesday: Comments due by 8pm.

Thursday: RS due at 8pm. Learning group meeting from 6-9pm. Project due at midnight.

Friday: Comments due by 8pm.

Saturday: Self-study catch up day. RS is due at 8pm for project that you shipped two days ago (Thursday).

Sunday: All day, 9am-6pm learning group meeting block. Project is due at 12am midnight.

See the calendar below:



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What is the curriculum like?

We’re entering an economy based almost entirely on projects, trust and connection. Those are the three forces that change our culture, and the three building blocks of the course. Together, students learn to act. Act first. Act often. Once we commit to action, it gets easier to see. To see how culture change works, how people listen to stories, how difficult (or easy) it is to make an impact. And then, once we can see, we open the door to real learning.

There’s more information available to more people than ever before in human history. But if you’re not thirsty to learn and you’re not aware of what you need to know, it does you no good at all.

Students who are transformed by this process will discover that there are enormous resources just waiting to be tapped, opportunities that were always there but never noticed before.

zoom room

We use Slack, Zoom HD video conferencing, and WordPress to create connection, urgency and public projects.

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Want to know more about questions where the answer is always yes?

Do you have advice on the altMBA application?

What can I expect?

Unlike traditional education, our curriculum is hands-on. More than 75% of your time is spent producing work, meaning that you’ll learn concepts and immediately put them into action. The work involves shipping projects, getting feedback from peers, providing constructive criticism, and publishing your work on your public page.

There will be a total of 13 projects, with one due each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. On those days you’ll also have group meetings for brainstorms and discussion.

Most of our students have full-time jobs or busy freelance schedules. We’ve created an intensive timeline that will stretch you, but will still be manageable given your real-life responsibilities.

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Who is the ideal altMBA candidate?

This program is robust like an MBA, but it’s not for bankers.

This is for leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, managers, artists, innovators, designers, builders, doers, and makers. Our alumni are from organizations like Coca-Cola, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Whole Foods, Lululemon, charity:water, buildON, Red Cross, Kickstarter, Google, PWC, and more.

Typical participants have at least 5 to 8 years of work experience.

Is altMBA right for you? Hear from our students who have been there.

Past students have come from industries including:

  • Technology
  • Communications
  • Consumer Products
  • Financial
  • Manufacturing
  • Nonprofit
  • Consulting
  • Law/Legal Services
  • Raw Materials/Energy
  • Real Estate
  • Retail

Regardless of industry or job function, the altMBA is for people in a hurry to create disruptive change. It’s for managers who want to sharpen their strategic thinking and add more frameworks to their toolbox.

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What are the time zones available?

Here are the time zones that we will have for sure:

Cohort 1: Pacific time, based on San Francisco

Cohort 2: Eastern time, based on New York City

Cohort 3: Central time, based on Texas

Cohort 4: BST/ UTC +1h, based on London

Cohort 5: TBD based on demand, could be a repeat of an above time zone

It’s possible that you’re on Mountain time, but are in the Central time group. That simply means that there weren’t enough people within your region, so we put you with friends a few states or countries away.

When scheduling, use the official time zone of your cohort. You might have to do a bit of mental math to convert time.

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I’m in the Asia Pacific region, so my time zone isn’t represented. Can I still apply? Which time zone should I pick?

Yes, we have a strong cohort of alumni in Australia, New Zealand, and all over Asia. We have 50+ alumni from China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, etc.

Despite the difference in your local time zone versus the cohort you’re placed in, our students find ways to make the program work with your schedule.

For example, with time difference, India is 4.5 hours ahead, China/Singapore is 7 hours, Australia is 9 hours, New Zealand is 11 hours compared to the rest of their classmates.

After running several sessions, we noticed that students from the same country don’t always pick the same time zone. There are multiple ways for applicants to fit the altMBA in your schedule.

As an example, our students in Australia had the following cohort breakouts:
52% chose Pacific time zone (17 hour difference)
24% chose Eastern (14 hour difference)
24% chose London (9 hour difference)

Currently, our available time zone cohorts are Pacific, Central, Eastern, and London.

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How does this work across different time zones?

A cohort is a group of ~20 students who have the same coach and work more closely together within the umbrella of 100 students. We grouped the cohorts by time zone to make real-time group work more convenient.

For the recent altMBA session, we had cohort times zones in SF, Minneapolis, NYC, and London. Our group meetings are 6-9pm in your cohort’s time zone.

What does this look like? If you live in France, you’d be placed in the London cohort because it’s the closest fit to your time zone. (France is one hour ahead of London, but nine hours ahead of San Francisco.) If you’re in the London cohort, your group meeting times are based on London time, even if you are physically in France.

We had students from 13+ countries in total and almost every continent (except Antarctica) and most felt that the timing worked out. Our cohort time zones depend on where our accepted students are from, but we anticipate having cohorts in Pacific, Central, Eastern time zones for sure, and perhaps a London one as that seems to be doable for many in Europe/Asia/Australia. Some international students chose to be in NYC time in order to work with a a broader group of peers.

We do our best to group students in cohorts that are close to their time zone, but it’s not guaranteed. If you are outside of North America, you may want to be mentally prepared to be in a North American time zone.

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What does altMBA stand for?

It might stand for alternative method for becoming amazing…

But what we truly stand for is the posture of taking responsibility for creating work that matters.

We stand for speaking up, speaking out and listening, too.

We stand for embracing an informal process for growth instead of needing an authorized, accredited piece of paper to prove that you’ve somehow absorbed a bunch of data.

We stand for you, in the future, making a difference.

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Who should enroll?

Consider the traditional top-tier MBA: It takes two years, you need to move and it costs more than $125,000.

The best business school experience is transformative. It exposes students to a new way of thinking as well as a cohort of fellow travelers, motivated, smart people in a hurry to change things.

What’s changed is that access to information is no longer the reason to go to business school. The information is everywhere.

Our goal with the altMBA is to assemble leaders (corporate executives, non-profit linchpins, founders, managers and people in a hurry) and to connect them and amplify their work.

Without leaving home. In just a month of intense effort.

The altMBA doesn’t pretend to make you an expert in finance, cost accounting or marketing. We don’t even try. Instead, we’re organized around action, around publishing, around sharing your work and learning from it.

If this sounds like it might be part of the change you’d like to see in your life and career, we hope you’ll apply.

[A college degree is not required. And if you already have an MBA, you’re welcome. We do best with students of any change who are thirsty for change and eager for connection.]

 

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Who’s in the program?

Check out this page all about our students and alumni.

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How much does it cost?

A lot. $3,000. Not $2,950 or some clever amount. And it’s not just the money, it’s the time you’ll be spending as well.

There are two reasons for the tuition. The first is that the altMBA requires a significant amount of commitment. Not only time (see below) but the decision to overcome your status quo. One way we can make that likely to happen is to raise the stakes.

The other reason it’s not free is that in order to build an environment focused on group dynamics and change, we’re investing in people. Every section of the altMBA has a full-time organizer behind it. Our goal isn’t to be big, it’s to be small. Small in size, but huge in our decision to create a difference.

If this sort of change or investment is too much, we totally get it. The altMBA probably isn’t for you. The good news is that all the content is in the world, free online or in accessible books. There are no secrets.

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Is there an application fee?

Not yet, though we will probably add one in the future, asking people to make a donation to one of these three charities as a way of sorting out serious applications.

For now, though, we’re delighted to receive your application at no cost.

 

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What are the requirements to be admitted?

We’re seeking people of all ages, from all backgrounds, who share a desire to make work that matters and who have shown a willingness to contribute important work. We believe that every person we admit to the program will somehow raise the average, producing a community that will provoke, amplify and reward excellent work.

Some of our students (contributors is probably a better word) are the kind of people who could easily go to Stanford or Harvard, but would prefer the intense, intimate, condensed experience the altMBA offers. Others live far afield, have day jobs or seek transformation, not merely a certificate.

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Will I get in?

We’ve made it difficult to apply, betting that those that stick it out will be precisely the sort of people we’re looking for.

The basic requirements are simple: A high speed internet connection, a decent webcam, and the desire and commitment to take the course. Beyond that, we’re seeking people from all over the world (as long as your English is solid) as well as the generosity of spirit to come to an event like this focused on how you can impact your fellow students.

People who have demonstrated that they have the ability and desire to change are the ones most likely to encourage their fellow students to leap. If you're the kind of person that cares enough to read the FAQ, you're probably the kind of person who will get in.

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Consider asking your boss

If you have a job, that’s fabulous (freelancers and entrepreneurs are welcome too). This course is intense, and requires a commitment of time and money.

We’re eager to select people with an employer who can support the time and energy it will take, and we’re thrilled if they want to support your tuition as well.

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Is the program open to participants from outside North America?

Definitely. There are two things you should note:

  1. We require exceptional spoken and written English skills from all our students
  2. You’ll need to be aware of the time zone issues. Most of the students will likely be in North America, and thus be in similar time zones. You don’t need a visa, but you do need to be present and awake at the scheduled group times.

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If I am not accepted into a program, can I apply again for a future session?

You can. See above.

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What if I have a family or other time commitments?

You're in good company. Hear what alumni in your situation have to say about taking the altMBA when you have a family and a full-time job.

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What kind of support do you offer students who are having trouble with the course material?

Everything we’re building revolves around this question. Most learning is ‘take it or leave it,’ and too often, the answer is ‘leave it.’ In the case of the altMBA, we’ve put a lot of effort into creating an environment where students support one another vigorously. We have coaches who help facilitate and bring out the best in you. In addition, all of the project work is posted live, where other students and the coaches can read it, react to it, and suggest improvements.

If you're concerned, take a minute to read this article by Seth Godin on Medium. It will help you understand our posture of coaching, not testing.

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What are the frustrations some students have with the altMBA?

Some of our students find the lack of detail in the prompts frustrating. They are hoping for more direction and a more straightforward path toward the level of excellence that they're used to.

We've also found that some people hesitate to reach out to offer to help their fellows, or have difficulty finding the discipline to overdeliver when no one is demanding that they do so.

Fortunately, our students usually discover that this is all part of what we're trying to teach, what we're working to create. The altMBA isn't a course with a fixed curriculum and grades. Instead, it's a process, one that gives people the room they need to level up.

It's not for everyone but it might be for you.

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What is your class attendance policy?

This is a 4 week sprint, and the other members of the altMBA are counting on you and every other student to be fully present. See our course calendar for the details: The short version is that we ask that each member of the intensive allocate the time to take this process as seriously as the rest of us.

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Will I have to travel for any course related activities?

You don’t. It’s optional to choose to meet fellow students (we’ll make it easy to find one another) but it’s certainly not required.

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Will the course follow the curriculum of a standard MBA program?

The standard MBA program is now easily obtained online, usually for the cost of a few books. In the case of the altMBA, we’re focusing on several key concepts, all focused on making smart decisions, noticing reality, and causing change to happen.

The altMBA is an action-oriented workshop. We write, design, connect and launch. Taking notes or regurgitating is not part of this. There are no tests, just one reason why no one asks, “will this be on the test?”

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Is there more of a focus on certain topics over others? How is the program structured?

The most important thing you’ll notice is what you don’t notice. Unlike every online course we’ve ever taken, this one has no secret content. There’s no “only you can see this secret bit” part.

Sure, there are videos, but they’re focused on what we actually do: Learn together.

This is a project-oriented course, a course designed to generate real learning. It’s not edutainment, instead, it’s an intense group/solo effort, designed to find the edge of your comfort zone and expand it.

For more on why videos aren’t the focus of what we’re doing, check this out.

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What is the usual class size?

We cap the size of the workshop. We currently have just over a hundred people in a session, but we're having such good results, our expectation is that we'll be increasing this--it adds heft and energy to the workshop. Whenever we add more students, though, we add more coaches, keeping our ratio at a very intimate 10:1 ratio. We’re small on purpose, and believe that a curated group of quality people is invaluable.

We divide you into study groups of 5, grouped into cohorts of 20. Over the course of 4 weeks, you’ll get to know the 20 people in your cohort quite well from collaborating on projects. You’ll have plenty of chances to meet everyone in the program.

In addition, there are chat rooms and discussions with our staff of coaches, who will respond and provoke, as needed.

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How much time can I expect to spend on coursework each day?

A lot. Well, less than Harvard Business School, but way more than watching the first twenty minutes of a MOOC and then never going back again.

Some specifics: Students commit to three-hour sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as an eight-hour marathon every Sunday, for one month. We’re organized to support multiple time zones, but everything happens in real time, for 4 weeks. It might be that your schedule doesn’t work this time, but we hope it will for a future session.

Because this is a sprint, it’s essential that you don’t miss a session.

Unlike most online courses, the altMBA happens in sync, with lots of group-work and human interaction. We recommend that students block off at least a few hours per day for reading, research and solo work, in addition to time blocked off for group discussion meetings twice a week and all day Sunday. See the calendar for details.

It’s a commitment, which is part of why it works.

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Where does the program take place?

The program is online.

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How often are sections of the altMBA held?

We’ll announce dates as they are finalized. If you’re interested in knowing when we have program dates available for future sessions, enter your email here.

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Does Seth Godin personally teach the course?

No. Our founder created the course and designed all the projects. But this is not a top-down process, and all the content used in the course is available to non-students. In other words, there’s no secret curriculum, no magic words only available to students.

Each section of the course is staffed with coaches who are professionals designed to help student cohorts find each other and push harder. You get as much out of the process as you put into it. As in real life, Seth doesn’t do any coaching, consulting or investing.

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What is included in the program fee?

The course is entirely virtual, so no travel is required. There may be optional opportunities to meet fellow altMBA changemakers in your area, but that’s not included in tuition.

We’ll ship everyone course materials before the workshop begins. Those are included in the fee. Most of the readings are non-optional, and we trust that altMBA students will keep each other on the hook for doing the work.

Whenever possible, we’re going to direct students to online readings and videos, though there are books that are worth buying (or finding in the library) and you’re on the hook to acquire those.

In addition to the course itself, perhaps our biggest goal is to build a powerful alumni network. Fellow changemakers, pushing each other to make a difference. After the course, support for/between/by our members goes on

There are no hidden fees, add-ons, individual tariffs, tolls or other surprises..

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Is reimbursement possible?

Depending on where you live, the cost might be tax deductible, and we will do whatever we can to help you be reimbursed by your company, as more and more enlightened organizations are understanding the value of continuous learning.

We need to note that the altMBA is informal, unaccredited, and non-bureaucratic. If you need an official course credit or the full facilities of a bursar’s office, this isn’t for you.

Find out how our alumni got reimbursement.

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What types of payment are accepted?

We use accept all standard credit card options, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, as well as PayPal. We’re not currently set up to bill your company, so we ask that you expense this if permitted.

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What is your cancellation policy?

The altMBA is a mutual commitment. We commit to welcoming you into a small, focused cohort of professionals, and doing everything we can to deliver on the promises of the workshop. In return, we ask you to commit to spending the time, money and passion it takes to level up, at the same time you contribute to others in the session.

We understand that life can interfere and that plans change, and we’ve tried to create a refund policy that respects you, our students and our mutual commitments.

DEPOSIT: We require a $500 deposit to secure your spot in the altMBA program and to accept our admission offer. Your deposit is non-refundable.

TUITION: The rest of your tuition, $2500, is fully refundable any time between the day we receive it and twenty-one days before the start of the program. Afterwards, no refunds are possible. We do appreciate notification of withdrawal as soon as possible so that we can attempt to fill your spot with another student who may be on the waitlist.

If you’re unable to participate, we’ll donate half your tuition to BuildOn, a charity that works with students in Chicago, New York, Malawi and other places that really need a leg up.

WITHDRAWAL: If, in the opinion of our coaches, you’re not contributing to the culture and forward motion of your cohort, we’ll let you know. If you’re still not able to actively participate, we’ll ask you to withdraw from the workshop. In this situation, no refund is possible, and we’ll donate half your tuition to BuildOn, as above.

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Are there scholarships available?

We offer a handful of scholarships, reserved each year for full-time nonprofit executives with a proven track record of charitable work. Each session, we carefully review all incoming applications and often have more deserving nonprofit candidates than scholarships available. We will contact qualified candidates directly throughout each round of admissions.

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Where did the logo come from?

The raven is the smartest of the bird family, a powerful, consistent and even mythical creature.

Our logo will change from time to time, but right now, we love the raven.

The artwork is inspired by the extraordinary work of Lisa Brawn.

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Apply for the altMBA

The program dates:

altMBA16/17 Winter: January 15 – February 13, 2018

The application takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Application