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Is the MSLCE Program Right for Me?


Searching for the right master’s program can be daunting. How do you know when you’ve found the right fit?

To help you decide whether Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises (MSLCE) program might be for you, we’ve pulled together some valuable information. These topics often come up as prospective students consider a degree. Uncovering the answers may help you find your right fit.

Q: Does my undergraduate major matter?

A: Even though this program combines creative vision with strategic business and management skills, specific majors aren’t required to apply. Students come to us with backgrounds ranging from music, theater, advertising, and film production to management, journalism, and communication studies. What matters most is your desire to learn the business side of the creative sector.

Q: Is lots of relevant work experience necessary to apply?

A: Students frequently wonder if they’ve spent enough time in the working world to earn an MSLCE. The answer is usually “yes!”

We consider applications from a wide variety of students—some have been out of undergraduate school for a year while others have decades of work experience. Because our students learn best in environments made up of diverse experiences and backgrounds, there are no full-time work requirements to apply.

Q: Do I need a specific career goal in mind when I start?

A: Unlike some degree programs where the end goal is narrowly defined and crystal clear, an MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises can take you almost anywhere within the business of the creative economy: working with a theater, opera company, fashion designer, media company, production studio, museum, or starting your own enterprise, for example.

A good way to decide whether this is the program for you is to ask yourself: What are your interests? Which career paths appeal to you? If your answers revolve specifically around finance, advertising or if you’re not interested in learning about anything other than theatre,  for example, this isn’t likely the program for you; however, if you dream of becoming a collaborative catalyst for creative innovation or developing an entrepreneurial mindset in order to bring creative projects and work to fruition across film, television, music, visual arts, and beyond, then this may be a perfect fit.

“Whether you’re coming straight from undergrad or have been working for years, we have a flexible curriculum that lets you use electives to customize your degree to what you need based on where you’re coming from,” says Kate Lawson, associate director for Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program. “If you have a broad range of interests and want to figure out which direction to go, you’ll be able to do that. Or, if you have a specific idea of what you want to learn, you can focus your coursework on those skills.”

Q: How much of a time commitment is this program?

A: The MSLCE program is an on-campus program and takes 12 months to  complete  for full-time students and approximately 2 – 2.5 years for part-time students. Whether you’re ready to start down a new path or take the next step in your current career, many students see the program as a way to reset and refocus on new goals.

“You’re learning new things,” says Lawson. “You’re discovering and investigating. It gives you a chance to step back and be strategic about your next move.”

Q: Will I fit in here?

A: Another common question: “Will I fit in?” The answer is usually “yes!”

Because MSLCE students are exposed to cross-disciplinary coursework that lets them customize their own paths, there is no “one type” of student in the program. Although everyone shares the same goal (to connect their creative expertise with business knowledge), they also bring different perspectives and backgrounds with them. No matter your core area, you’ll learn about a breadth of creative industries.

Q: How does this compare to a traditional two-year master’s degree?

A: Northwestern follows the quarter system, which divides the academic year into four quarters—fall, winter, spring, and summer—that each last about 10 weeks. Finish all four quarters and you’ve earned your MSLCE!

As a result, our credit system is also a little different. This leaves some students wondering how the degree compares to a traditional full-time, two-year master’s degree.

“Because Northwestern is on the quarter system, we line up pretty well with the number of credits you earn and number of classes you can take in a two-year program,” says Lawson. “Here, it’s simply an accelerated timeline.”

The Right Fit? Find Out for Sure

If this program sounds like a good fit for you, prospective students are welcome to join an MSLCE class to get an inside look at the students, faculty, and curriculum. Interested in learning more? Let us know!

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