As a DBA student based in the United States, I chose ISM due to the diverse student body comprised of working professionals from a variety of backgrounds.  For me, the face-to-face courses were a critical factor in my decision to attend ISM, as they would allow me to greatly expand my professional network and enable me to engage in more hands-on learning.  

In addition to face-to-face courses, online courses are also available, and I found them to be much more difficult and time consuming.  For a three-credit online course, there were typically three assignments completely driven by your own schedule.  For these classes, professors were always readily available via Skype or email, if a question arose, but the value of being able to learn from classmates in a more traditional setting was sometimes a tradeoff for the convenience of an independent schedule.

Due to the variety of variables, finding face-to-face courses that align with your work and personal schedule becomes a very reasonable option.  During my studies, I attended classes in New York and Paris.  Courses are typically held once a year in New York during the summer, one additional location such as São Paulo or Cape Town in the late fall, and throughout the year in Paris.  When you travel for face-to-face courses, attending at least two back to back (5-6 days) is a great option that makes the expense associated with travel, a great return on your investment.  As I get ready for my third and final trip to Paris, I thought I would share some insight to my preparation for face-to-face courses, including the intensity associated with the timing of this process.

Usually, 4-6 weeks before your face-to-face course(s) are scheduled to begin, the syllabus is posted and you may begin your preparation.  Typically, this involves ordering a few books, downloading articles, and reading through the syllabus.  Within the syllabus, a pre-course assignment is typically outlined which is due prior to the first day.  The assignment is typically a very basic introduction exercise, PowerPoint, or writing assignment that outlines your background in the subject, your interest, or first impressions.  Preparing for a course can become quite intense if you are working on assignments for any other classes at the same time and/or are also preparing to take time off from work.  I would suggest ensuring that your other class assignments are completed four weeks before the face-to-face course begins, to lighten your workload.

Once in Paris, or one of the other face-to-face locations, each course typically lasts three days from 9am-6pm.  Two breaks and a one-hour lunch help to give your brain a reprieve from the engaging dialogue and group discussions, presentations, or work underway.  After the class concludes, a major assignment, typically an original research topic in the course, is due within 4-6 weeks.  Since the professors encourage each student to approach the final assignment from the lens of their professional and academic interests, the course topic truly enhances your professional development and growth.  Personally, I often find myself sharing the knowledge I gained from the course work and studies with my work colleagues and staff to enhance our own understandings, processes, procedures, and tools.

As I begin to stare down the dissertation, as it is the next phase of my journey to achieve a DBA, the courses have helped to set me up for success.  Not just because of the content and academic rigor, but due to the vast network of fellow students I can reach out to across the globe; all of whom are on the same shared journey of professional and personal growth. 

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