An umbrella term, a General Management Program (GMP) is a multi-week, non-degree executive education course offered by a business school. Sometimes referred to as “Advanced Management Program (AMP)” or “Executive Program in General Management”, these courses cover similar topics to MBAs, but offer certificates rather than degrees.
A major differentiator to degree programs is the fact that while most GMPs have some form of application process, some have no formal admissions requirements. Instead, they consider the applicant’s achievements and organizational responsibilities.
Another differentiator is the length: they are much shorter than degree courses such as MBAs. For example, MIT Sloan’s AMP program comprises 25 days held over a month-long period, whereas MIT’s Executive MBA program is run over 20 months and includes 26 weekend sessions, four weeklong modules and one international trip.
Executive education programs like GMPs allow mid-career executives with typically 10-20 years’ work experience to gain management training without interrupting their career. That means the opportunity cost of not working is lower, as well as the tuition fees which are generally a fraction of the cost of an MBA. Therefore, GMPs tend to attract working managers who are at a high level of seniority in their organization.
The Wharton School’s General Management Program comprises four core courses (finance, leadership, strategy and marketing) and two electives, to meet the individual needs of participants. Thus, they can tailor the program to their personal tastes and professional aspirations.
“The GMP offers executives an opportunity to build a learning journey based on their future career goal,” says Wharton executive education vice dean Jagmohan Raju.
Why pursue a GMP?
Some executives enroll because they are making a career transition (moving from a corporate job to launching their own business, for example) or moving into a role with greater responsibilities. The executive coaching that GMP participants receive can help them discern what’s next for them professionally.
And participants have a chance to advance their business acumen and enhance their leadership skills in a flexible format that fits their busy schedule. “The modular format allows executives to apply the knowledge and skills gained immediately to meet their current challenges and opportunities,” Raju says.
The Wharton GMP includes personalized coaching that helps participants identify their strengths and weaknesses and chart a new course for future professional success. It also offers them an opportunity to network with a wide range of international executives from many industries.
The program is designed for senior-level professionals who already have 15 or more years of management experience. Past participants have included people who already have MBAs, as well as advanced degrees such as PhDs, JDs and MDs. The seniority of the participants adds to the richness of the learning experience through group discussion that broadens perspectives.
Although it is not a degree program, it is highly selective, and it does lead to Wharton alumni status. The entry requirements include demonstrated career achievement, profit and loss responsibilities, expansion of cross-functional or cross-geographical work.
Although this application process is rigorous, participants enter a large and global network of alumni. Some past participants include the former CEO of Sallie Mae, a senior-level executive from Christie’s, and a doctor in the US Navy.
“The General Management Program can be different for every participant no matter their learning goals, their industry or experience,” Raju says.
What GMP options are out there?
There are plenty of other options for prospective students. Harvard Business School puts on an Advanced Management Program (AMP) to prepare participants for the highest level of leadership, while the University of Oxford’s Said Business School runs an Advanced Management and Leadership Programme as well.
MIT Sloan’s Advanced Management Program (AMP) is a full-time, month-long, on-campus course designed to convene a diverse group of experienced leaders seeking transformative learning among global peers.
AMP participants engage in custom learning components led by the same faculty that teach in degree programs. These components include interactive classroom sessions, management simulations, case studies, as well as individualized leadership coaching and feedback assessments.
A similar course is MIT’s “Executive Program in General Management”, which targets a more international audience. It contains about the same number of total program days (25) but is spread over the course of a calendar year, with some modules online, some in Massachusetts, and some in other parts of the world.
Peter Hirst, senior associate dean for MIT executive education, sees consistent interest from individuals who have exceled in technical roles, but are advancing in their organization and find that they now are managers of people and leaders of teams. “Participants find GMPs helpful to prepare them to take on broader general management responsibilities and prepare for ascension to the C-suite,” he says.
Hirst adds that new or emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things are generating interest too, because many companies see a talent gap in these areas, and MIT’s courses are designed to help plug the gaps.
“Beyond simply enhancing an individual’s management and leadership capability, GMPs support general career advancement,” he says. “Employers see the participation in GMPs as a commitment to continuous learning and the acquisition of new skills.”