Get the 411 on the Stanford MSx Program

Stanford MsX program

Are you a mid-career professional seeking a transformational experience as fast as possible? The Stanford MSx program may provide that career boost you need. As an accelerated master’s program, you’ll spend one year reflecting, connecting, and refining your professional goals.

“There is only one Stanford and only one Silicon Valley,” says a current MSx student. “I came to the GSB with a question of how we can merge tech with human connection.”

In the fall of 2021, representatives from the Stanford MSx program spoke with John A. Byrne, founder of Poets & Quants, about the program’s merits. Here we share facts and insights with you.

Stanford MsX program

Overview of Stanford MSx

The Stanford MSx program is a Master of Science in Management for Experienced Leaders. It is a one-year immersive, residential program, where students have access to the University’s seven schools (e.g., engineering, education) and the new school of sustainability, opening soon.

Created for mid-career professionals, MSx enrolls about 80 students per cohort. The campus is in the heart of Silicon Valley, perhaps the most dynamic and exciting economy in the world.

“Stanford is a magnetic field that attracts the best of the best talent from around the world,” shared a recent alum of the Stanford MSx program. “We’re all in it together. The vested interest in the tribe in making everyone successful is a hallmark of the Stanford MSx program.”

Upcoming Program Deadlines for 2021-2022

Round 1 MSx

Application due: October 14, 2021
Decision released: December 9, 2021

Round 2 (Joint)

Application due: January 5, 2022
Decision released: March 31, 2022

Round 2 (MSx only)

Application due: February 15, 2022
Decision released: March 31, 2022

Stanford MSx Application Essay Prompts

  1. What matters most to you, and why? For this essay, we would like you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you have identified what matters most to you, help us understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?
  2. Why Stanford MSx, and why now? Please describe your aspirations and how your Stanford MSx experience will help you realize them. Why is this the right time for you to pursue your master’s degree at Stanford GSB?

Stanford MSx Acceptance Rate

As noted by Poets & Quants, “Acceptance rates are almost always more generous in one-year programs as well. Stanford’s MSx program, a great option for ‘older’ professionals aged 30 to 34, accepts about one in four applicants. That contrasts with the puny 6.1% acceptance rate for its two-year program.”

Program and Coursework Design

The core curriculum educates on business fundamentals, and half of the program is customizable. Students are encouraged to sample widely, try everything, and then think of one or two areas to dive deep.

As a result, students become completely engaged with this fully immersive program. “I’m currently not juggling another job. I can be really all-in and that’s accelerated the learning and given me the opportunity to say yes more than I would have otherwise,” said current MSx student Kate French.

There are also many different community-building activities for students, such as Indian and Japan night, as well as immersive trips to New York, Washington DC, etc., where participants forge life-long relationships. 

As one alum explained, it’s like, “Getting a PhD in self awareness and it’s probably the last time in your life—in your mid 30s or 40s—where you can make lifelong friends.”

Design thinking, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics are among the course topics available. New Venture Strategy is a course taught by a famous trio of teachers. Experiential classes are abundant. Cardinal Ventures or DormRoom courses are incubator courses. “Evidence-based life design” is the power of each of the MSx courses, shared by a recent alum.   

MSx offers Startup Garage, Lean LaunchPad, TechX, and many more entrepreneurial classes. For example, Startup Garage is an iconic course at Stanford for anyone wanting to experience entrepreneurship. MsX educates on a combination of design thinking and business management principles. Doordash started out of a Startup Garage course. 

Interpersonal Dynamics (or touchy-feely) is also a well-known class that MSx students take with MBA students. Ten people sit in a circle talking about thoughts and emotions–about self and how others think of you. Students learn many things about life and work. 

Fun Fact: 60% of students at MSx have children.

Origin of the Program

It’s a strategic priority at Stanford to have an impact beyond the core MBA program. Stanford wants to spread its knowledge more widely, including for mid-career executives, and more thoughtfully than its shorter Exec Education programs. MSx has been around for 60 years and has always been part of the GSB. It started as the Sloan program, and students still refer to it as Sloan Fellows.

ROI of Stanford MSx

The opportunity costs are higher for mid-career professionals, as many have young families. It’s one year of focusing on your career: accelerating your career or transitioning to a new path, such as entrepreneurship.

Students can expect to receive a top-notch education and an incredible cohort of classmates, along with a broader set of people at the GSB to learn from, network, and stay in touch with lifelong. As a highly collaborative school, MSx students mix with students from all three programs—MBA, Ph.D., and MSx—and support each other through group work and student-led activities.

The ‘Success for All’ Ethos

Kate French, who began in January, shared, “I had on the ground experience but my skills were not seen as transferable. I wanted to expand horizons, get business acumen and have the opportunity to meet a large number of people. The beauty of the program is that your focus changes, you may get an idea of what you may want initially but then you can expand more broadly.

“The program has exceeded my expectations. I have increased confidence through opportunities to constantly meet new people. There is constantly an opportunity to know people on a deeper level and those people want to get to know you.”

“The program has broadened what I thought was possible. I didn’t come here to be an entrepreneur. What an entrepreneur is a wide range of things. I realized I have been involved in start-up-like environments. The entrepreneurial possibility is infectious, not overwhelming, but it is empowering and exciting. We will succeed together and everyone wants others to succeed as well.”

Steven Troung, a recent MSx graduate, said, “Stanford gave me the confidence to embrace authentic leadership and bring that into my current career role.”

“Every cohort is 75-85, so after one year, you really know those people so well and become lifelong friends. Think of the Msx program as Stanford, not just a business school. You will find the most inspiring people that will help you empower and achieve your dreams.”

Across the interviewees from the MSx program, it’s clear that they didn’t just get an education. The experience is truly transformative.

For guidance on related programs, the Executive MBA, please see our EMBA overview and our Wharton EMBA insider tips.


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