Training Top 125 Best Practice: Spectrum Health Executive MBA (EMBA)

This two-year, fully accredited program was developed in partnership with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to prepare participants with the skills and knowledge base necessary to succeed in the dynamic, evolving, and competitive health-care industry.

Spectrum Health’s Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) is a comprehensive, two-year, fully accredited program developed in partnership with Grand Valley State University (GVSU). The program is designed to prepare participants with the skills and knowledge base necessary to succeed in the dynamic, evolving, and competitive health-care industry. 

Program Details

Through a rigorous application and selection process, complete with a one-on-one interview with a member from Spectrum Health’s executive team, a cohort of 22 clinical and non-clinical Spectrum Health employees are selected. Over the following two-year period, they are prepared to lead, be held accountable for outcomes in the industry, and accelerate their readiness to critical health system roles. Requirements of the program are: 

  • Active Spectrum Health employee
  • Exempt employee status (salaried)
  • Minimum tenure of one year with Spectrum Health by the time of application submission
  • Accredited Bachelor’s degree completed at the time of internal application
  • Most recent performance rating of “High Performing”
  • Upline recommendation and VP endorsement
  • 100 percent completion of Talent Profile (an internal tool used as equal parts career plan, resume, and development plan)

In addition to the custom-designed executive MBA curriculum with a health-care focus, students are tasked with a capstone project. These projects are selected and sponsored by members of Spectrum Health’s executive team and tie directly back to the not-for-profit health system’s key strategies. These are real issues the organization is facing; those implemented create a direct business impact either through cost savings or revenue generation. 

As part of best practices of the program, the Spectrum Health University (SHU) team takes time each semester to sit down with the students for a feedback session that touches on specific classes, as well as overall program experience. This is critical in helping Spectrum Health identify what’s going well and areas of opportunity, so it can continuously improve the value of the program. Going into the fifth year of this program, one piece of feedback the team always receives during these sessions is that the ability to learn and network with peers from different areas of the system is invaluable. These cohorts continue to work together and leverage one another even post-graduation, breaking down silos across the continuously growing organization. 


An indication of the program’s success is reflected in the following numbers (as of May 2018):

• Talent mobility:

52 percent promoted

18 percent lateral/expanded moves

• Would you recommend the EMBA program to a colleague?

 100 percent: Yes

• The program fits with my career needs at this time. 

 77 percent strongly agreed

 23 percent agreed

• How satisfied are you with the overall quality of the EMBA program?

 74 percent very satisfied

 26 percent satisfied

• Percentage of capstone projects implemented:

64 percent

Spectrum Health’s partnership with GVSU through this program has expanded its reach into the community, tying directly to its mission to improve the health of the communities it serves. The outcomes have been so successful that Spectrum Health and GVSU have started looking at other partnership opportunities with one another, similar to the EMBA.

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