2017 GMAC Masters Symposium

15-16 November | Madrid, Spain

About the Symposium

The 2017 GMAC Masters Symposium is a must-attend, invitation-only event designed for leaders and decision-makers responsible for developing and advancing the world’s top business master’s programmes. 

This year, the Symposium will be held at IE Business School in the vibrant city of Madrid, Spain on the 15th and 16th November 2017.


Wednesday, 15 November

11:30 am – 12:00 pm: Registration

12:00 – 12:10 pm: Welcome

Symposium introduction, including relevance of masters programmes in the graduate management education (GME) landscape and goals for the following 2-day programme. 

12:10 – 12:45 pm: The State of Graduate Management Education

Before diving into the master’s market, this industry overview will explore the major trends impacting GME including geopolitics and changing employer needs. 

12:45 – 1:15 pm: Lunch

1:15 – 3:15 pm: The Master’s Landscape: SWOT Analysis

Breaking the attendees into working groups, this session will be a facilitated analysis on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to the master’s market within GME. Table discussions will allow each group a deeper, strategic dive into the market while exposing each table to the complexities of the master’s space such as lack of common terminology and how Master’s degrees are “compared” to an MBA. While this activity may at first raise more questions than it answers, table report-outs will provide symposium attendees a shared framework and allow the group to reach consensus on the most pressing issues currently impacting their programmes. 

3:15 – 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

3:45 – 5:15 pm: You Want What?!

A panel of global undergraduate career services and marketing professionals share their insights into the current undergraduate population. To create meaningful master’s programmes for these students, we need to know what they are looking for in terms of graduate education, how they hope to develop professionally, and how their desires align with employer demand.

5:15 – 5:30 pm: Close of Day One

7:00 pm: Symposium Dinner

Thursday, 16 November

8:45 – 9:00 am: Welcome and Review

9:00 – 10:00 am: The Dean’s Perspective

A global panel of b-school deans share their insights and respond to attendee questions on the role and impact master’s programmes have on their school-specific portfolios and the industry in general. What do they believe is driving program proliferation and how do they forecast the sustainability of master’s degrees? How do they view master’s programmes in relation to MBA programmes? What do they see as the biggest challenges facing master’s programmes and what information do they rely upon to make these forecasts? 

10:00 – 11:00 am: Growing Pains—A “Real” Discussion about Growing your Portfolio

Panel/Facilitated Discussion

It is a common thought that if a school grows its programme portfolio, eventually there will be a point where it reaches economies of scale with its resources. But is this a myth or reality? And where are those economies to be found – in faculty loads, staffing, student services, operations? This session will launch with a panel discussion of the realities behind growing your portfolio before launching into a facilitated discussion with the audience about best practices. 

11:00 – 11:30 am: Coffee Break 

11:30 am – 12:30 pm: The Research Perspective

Between 2016 and 2017, GMAC initiated three new research studies on candidate motivations/segmentation, knowledge and skills of the future classroom, and master’s programs. This session will take the key points from these in-depth studies, combined with master’s specific findings from the GMAC corporate recruiters, alumni, and applicant surveys, to paint a portrait of the master’s market. This data synthesis will do even more than reveal what we “know” from candidates and employers, it will point to what we should be paying attention to: What are the skills that faculty and employers expect from master’s degree grads? How does the market perceive these degrees in relation to an MBA? What do masters alumni satisfaction ratings say about how we are delivering these programmes? This session will share insights and prompt questions that will no doubt be the core of this afternoon’s workshop. 

12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch

1:30 – 3:30 pm: Workshop: Defining the Space

After hearing perspectives and insights from multiple stakeholders in the master’s space, the real work begins. What should be done? The GMAC Masters Advisory Group has already uncovered some disparity and confusion in the master’s market. Are we all using the same terminology? Is there a definitive resource in this space for prospective students or even for schools? What types of assessments are we using either during the admissions process or upon graduation to measure impact? Given the chaos, there is a great deal of opportunity and this is why you are here. This working session will divide attendees into smaller groups to begin creating definition in the space – structures or vocabulary or resources – to turn the noise into an impactful roar. One group may be designing a flexible assessment for the master’s market while another may be tasked with crafting a research agenda or a survey of industry peers. These working groups are just the beginning. Your participation in this symposium is your invitation to be part of a GMAC working group which will guide the development of tools and resources to assist in the master’s space going forward.

3:30 – 4:00pm: Wrap-Up and Close


Please confirm your attendance by return email as spaces are limited. There is no registration fee for this inaugural event, however, you will be responsible for your own travel and accommodation costs as well as meal costs outside of the Symposium schedule.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided on both the 15th and 16th November. All participants are invited to dinner and a cocktail reception on the 15th November.


Your invitation is non-transferable and as such registration substitutions are not permitted. You have been specifically selected to participate because of your knowledge and experience in the Master’s space. Please email us at: programseurope@gmac.com if you have any questions. 


IE Business School
María de Molina
11, 13 y 15 
28006 Madrid

Hotel Accommodation

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Meliá Galgos Hotel, a five-minute walk from IE Business School.

Meliá Galgos
Claudio Coello, 139
28006 Madrid, Spain

Advisory Group

2017 Masters Symposium Advisory Group Members

GMAC would like to thank the members of the 2017 GMAC Masters Symposium Advisory Group who continue to share their time and contribute their insights and ideas throughout the planning of this event:

Nick Barniville
Associate Dean, Degree Programs
Chris Gao
Senior Admissions Manager, Masters of Finance
Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance
Leila Guerra
Assistant Dean, Postgraduate Programmes
Singapore Management University
Gareth Howells 
Executive Director MBA, Masters in Finance & Early Careers Programmes 
London Business School
Elspeth Murray
Associate Dean, MBA and Masters Programs 
Queen’s Smith School of Business
Monica Powell
Senior Associate Dean, Graduate Programs 
Naveen Jindal School of Management UT Dallas
Eric Waarts
Dean of Education
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
Kiron Ravindran
Associate Dean, Master in Management Programs 
IE Business School