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Article By: Kenneth A. Stewart
Posted October 12, 2016

A growing number of senior naval officers are turning to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree program to meet their graduate education needs despite the rigorous demands and back-breaking tempo that comes with serving in the Navy’s most challenging leadership positions.

And since the notion of a senior officer taking an 18-month leave of absence to attend graduate school is rarely an option, NPS’ Graduate School of Business and Public Policy (GSBPP) offers an EMBA with a short-term residency requirement coupled with distance learning that is tailored to meet the advanced education needs of mid to senior level naval officers.

Senior Lecturer retired Cmdr. William “Bill” Hatch is the EMBA program manager, and has been with the program since 2004. He welcomes one cohort every 36 months, with new enrollments taking place in the Spring and Fall.

“It’s part of a professional military education continuum. You can give a flag officer a graduate degree, but the 07 level is not the time in your career that you send someone off to school for 18 to 24 months. You do that at 04 through 06 levels, and more and more promotion boards are looking for people with graduate degrees.

“Many O4, O5s and O6s are recognizing that this is their ticket toward reaching their next promotion milestone if they do not have a graduate degree,” continued Hatch. “The goal of the program is to provide graduate education to officers whose career milestones do not afford them the opportunity to come to NPS.”

Group photo: The latest cohort of Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) students.

The latest cohort of Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) students is pictured during program orientation, Sept. 20. While the hybrid program remains strong with mid-level career officers and civilians, senior naval officers are also taking advantage of the program in larger numbers.

The program addresses the myriad issues that senior officers are asked to address, many of which have little to do with the specific job that the Navy trained them to accomplish.

“The more senior you become in the Navy, particularly at the O5 and O6 levels, the less you work within your designator and the more you become a resource manager, running people and material. That’s what the program provides,” explained Hatch. “It has a little money, a little risk management, some contract and program management, and acquisitions. In fact, students come out of the program with Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) Level II certificates of completion.”

DAWIA is an important part of a senior naval officer’s professional development. It was signed into law in 1990 and has been modified several times since with an eye toward arming acquisition professionals, and those that supervise or work with them, with an understanding of a host of acquisition skills including program management, cost estimation and auditing.

“NPS works very hard to have DAU [Defense Acquisition University] equivalent courses. The business school is current on all the DAU courses, and is able to offer equivalent course work embedded within our educational programs,” said Hatch.

Rear Adm. Michael E. Jabaley, who currently serves as the Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Submarines, is a graduate of the EMBA program.

“I would recommend the executive MBA to anyone who is considering a career path in acquisitions, especially, but also to anyone who is interested in dealing with business within the Navy,” said Jabaley.  

“The most valuable part of the Naval Postgraduate School’s executive MBA program would be the opportunity to take classes with a group of students who are looking at the same future, the same career path [that you are],” Jabaley continued.

“There is clearly something for everyone in this course. If a junior officer is interested in a career in business, either within the Navy or post Navy, this is a very helpful degree to earn. If the officer is more advanced in their career, as I was, it is useful to use this program to put the finishing touches on their education,” he added.

For more information on NPS Executive Master of Business Administration program, check out the NPS EMBA website.