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Continuing the Education Journey with Freedom and Flexibility

For this student veteran, online learning is the key to successfully balancing work, fatherhood and schoolwork.

When Brian Green earned his MBA from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in 2018, he swore to himself that he was done with school. Although he was happy to get 15-20 hours back each week to spend with his wife and four children, Green eventually felt the pull to continue studying and decided to go back for a second master’s degree.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a degree in engineering management, Green knows all about hard work and discipline. So it’s no surprise that when he enrolled in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs’ Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program, he knew he could juggle all of his work and household responsibilities.

Brian Green poses with his spouse and four children in front of their house. Click to read story.
Brian Green’s online courses in the Executive Master of Public Administration program allow him to work full time, spend time with his children and take classes at home in the evening.

“I manage my time very delicately,” says Green. “Finding time to focus on classes, research, writing and reading papers is crucial. I organize my schedule with my wife to allocate certain time to family and dedicate certain time to schoolwork so I’m putting forth full effort to get good grades and the degree.”

The online EMPA program was the perfect solution, allowing Green to work during the day as senior director of operations with the CNY Regional Transportation Authority, spend time with his children after work (ages 10, 8 and 5-year-old twins), take his classes at home in the evening and still be able to tuck his kids into bed.

The flexibility is definitely there with the EMPA program. It gives me the freedom to do what I have to do before class.

After leaving the military, where he served with the Army for 10 years, Green wanted to go back to school to earn his MBA as a personal goal. “I didn’t know much about the business world,” he confesses. “I knew about the government and the Army. After getting my MBA, I changed from the private sector to the public sector, so I wanted to understand that world better, which is why I’m pursuing my EMPA now.”

Brian Green helps two of their kids with a puzzle in their dining room.
Green appreciates a work-life balance that lets him spend time with his children after work and tuck them into bed at night.

Flexible Online Learning

Green found the program’s flexible learning environment to be a benefit. Students attend real-time online classes, where they can collaborate with classmates and faculty. They also complete self-paced multimedia coursework that includes videos, interactive content, quizzes, guest lectures and case studies. The University partners with education technology firm 2U Inc. to deliver its online course offerings via its 2SU platform.

“The flexibility is definitely there with the EMPA program,” says Green. “It gives me the freedom to do what I have to do before class.”

Despite his enthusiasm for the program, Green was at first hesitant about taking all his courses online, feeling unsure whether he would benefit as much as he did from in-person classes. “When I was in the Army, I saw fellow soldiers taking online classes where they would just post on message boards, and it didn’t seem like the most effective method for learning. But with the 2SU platform that includes asynchronous content that can be accessed anytime and the live weekly sessions where you can interact, it was easier than I anticipated.”

Brian Green sits behind computer monitor
Green interacts in real time with classmates and faculty and also completes self-paced coursework on his own.

The program is intense, but Green is up for the challenge, and staff at the Maxwell School offer plenty of help to those who need it. Green jokes that his stubborn desire to figure things out on his own keeps him from utilizing all the available support for online learning, but he appreciates that the help is out there. Just as they do with in-person learning, professors hold office hours for individual instruction.

Fortunately, many of Green’s electives from the MBA program can be applied to his EMPA degree, so he’ll be able to complete the 15-month program in just nine months. He swears this will be his last time in school.

Green urges anyone considering online learning to research which digital platform the program uses, especially if you really thrive in an interactive environment.

“Online learning is continually changing, and with the right platform, like 2SU, you can really interact with your classmates and your instructor. At the end of the day the EMPA is a great program, and online learning gives students the flexibility to have a work-life balance.”

Lisa Maresca

This story was first published on September 24, 2020 and last updated on .


Also of Interest

  • Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

    The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is Syracuse University’s home for innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research in the social sciences, public policy, public administration and international relations. It includes America’s #1 ranked graduate program in public affairs, offering highly regarded professional degrees alongside advanced scholarly degrees in the social sciences, and it is home to undergraduate programs across the full spectrum of social sciences.

  • Syracuse University Online Degrees and Certificates

    Academic excellence, flexible options, a vibrant community and a global alumni network help you succeed from your first class to your next job—and well beyond. Whatever your next move, we have the online programs and supportive community to help you succeed.