At the top of each program page on the HBS Executive Education website, you'll find the dates of the program, the location for the program (or for individual modules within the program), and what type of learning is involved. For example:

Website program session format example

All in-person programs and modules are full-time experiences, requiring you to disconnect from work and devote your full attention to the learning. Virtual programs are centered on live (synchronous) interactions with faculty and peers, but the required time commitment will vary. No matter the format, all programs require some time to prepare by reading case materials before the program begins. To maximize the value of your learning experience, be sure you understand the time commitment required for your program.

Here are some terms you will encounter regarding the learning format:

  • Blended Program. A program that combines in-person and virtual learning. The virtual portion may consist of live, synchronous learning, self-paced part-time learning, or both. A blended program is typically a multi-module program, with each module's format chosen to support learning goals.
  • In-Person. A learning mode in which you and your peers gather together in the same place. In addition to learning together in the classroom and in living groups, you will eat meals together, socialize, and come together for evening activities. Most in-person programs are offered on the HBS campus, with classrooms, lodging, and other facilities designed specifically for Executive Education. Accommodations and most meals are included in the program fee, so there’s no need to book a hotel or worry about dinner plans.
  • Live Online Classroom (LOC). Purpose-built studios on the HBS campus that replicate the in-person HBS classroom experience for a virtual program or module. Thanks to a wall of life-size screens, strategically placed cameras, and a studio crew, the experience is more immersive than what is provided by a virtual meeting technology such as Zoom. Watch our Live Online Classroom (LOC) video to see how it works.
  • Module. One segment of a multiple-segment program. Some programs comprise several modules in a sequence, which are often, but not always, contiguous in time. To complete the program, participants must complete all modules. Each module's format is either in-person or virtual.
  • Part-Time Self-Paced Learning. Asynchronous virtual learning that can be completed part-time while you are also working. Self-paced learning can take place either 1) before the program begins, to review case materials and prepare for the program, which is recommended for every program, 2) as a separate module, to build and level-set skills before arriving on campus, or 3) during the middle of the program, to allow you to continue learning while you apply new concepts and skills in your workplace.
  • Live, Virtual Learning. Learning that takes place remotely, centered on live (synchronous) interaction with faculty and peers. Live virtual learning can involve either an intensive, full-time experience or a part-time schedule of full-day or partial-day sessions spread over two or more weeks.
  • Virtual Program. A program that can be completed remotely, requiring no travel. It offers a live online (synchronous), highly interactive, and immersive learning experience. Virtual programs and modules that are live online experiences use either the HBS Live Online Classroom (LOC) or a virtual meeting technology such as Zoom.

By offering programs in a variety of formats, HBS brings flexibility to busy executives juggling work and family responsibilities with aspirations for career growth. But keep in mind that program format should not be the key consideration when selecting a program. Hitoshi Yamasaki, a past program participant from Mitsubishi Corporation, who has attended both virtual and on-campus programs, explains, "I would advise people just to take the program that is right for them, whenever they can, in whatever format they can."

More Insight

Want more help in understanding the various learning experiences at HBS? Check out these past blog posts:

What's the Right Fit for You—An In-Person Or Virtual Program? Hitoshi Yamasaki attended both types of programs and shares the pros and cons.

Understanding the Benefits of Our Virtual Programs Four participants in live online programs offer their perspectives.

Exceptional Learning—Wherever You Are Discover what's so special about the Live Online Classroom at HBS.

About the Author

Chelsea Schwerin is the Assistant Director of Program Advising for Harvard Business School, Executive Education.