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Education Spotlight: University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Rosslyn is home to an exciting and growing education sector, from secondary to postgraduate offerings. This group of institutions is helping to establish a strong talent pipeline here in Arlington, with a future workforce equipped with the knowledge and skills desired by our region’s top companies. The Rosslyn BID is highlighting these schools and universities as part of an Education Spotlight Series.

Next, we’re spotlighting University of Virginia Darden School of Business, which has now called Rosslyn home in some capacity since 2016. Learn more about UVA Darden below from Yael Grushka-Cockayne, senior associate dean for professional degree programs.

Establishing Grounds in Rosslyn

“The D.C. metro area has one of the highest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the world, of course, which is important for a business school with a close connection to practice, and it’s a city of ideas. D.C. is also a cross-sector, cross-disciplinary city – in which business, government and the social sector intersect. It’s also the region with the highest concentration of UVA and Darden graduates, so we have roots here.

After years of studying the prospect of setting up a campus, or Grounds, as we call them, in the D.C., area, the Rosslyn area emerged as a favorite. It is a thriving commercial area that boasts a number of top companies, and It’s relatively easy to travel to the area, whether you’re coming from Charlottesville, New York City, or further afield. The connectivity across the Washington, D.C., area is also superb. We found wonderful space in the heart of Rosslyn on Wilson Boulevard, and we are proud to be a part of this community.”

Fostering a student-centric experience

“There are obviously many excellent graduate schools in the region, and prospective students are able to find the education experience that works best for them. For our professional degree programs, we have worked hard to make the experience convenient for working professionals. In the Executive MBA program, for instance, virtual programming is supplemented by once-a-month residencies, with classes beginning at noon on Fridays and concluding by Sunday afternoon. For our Part-Time MBA program, students follow an evening weeknight schedule with weeks alternating between in-person and virtual delivery. We try to keep a student-centric approach in our programming.

Darden has built its reputation on the quality of its educational experience, and this is also a defining feature of our professional degree programs. The core curriculum in both our Executive MBA and Part-Time MBA programs is taught by Darden faculty — the same faculty who teach Full-Time MBA students in Charlottesville. Courses are also taught by the case method. In contrast to a lecture-based approach to education, Darden’s case method challenges students to discuss and debate real business problems and possible solutions. We have always been adamant that students in the Executive MBA or Part-Time MBA receive the full Darden MBA experience, not a watered-down version. That’s what our students want, too.

Finally, all students have two week-long residencies in Charlottesville, so we work hard on the connectivity to UVA and the Grounds in Charlottesville. There are also global opportunities in our professional degree programs. Our Part-Time MBA students can participate in a global elective in the fall of their second year. Our Executive MBA program is the only of Darden’s MBA programs that requires a global course.”

Campus offerings continue to expand

“In 2016, we launched a cohort of the Executive MBA program in Rosslyn. This proved enormously popular with prospective students, and we subsequently made Rosslyn the home base for all of professional degree programs, which in recent years has expanded to include the Executive MBA, the Part-Time MBA and the Master of Science in business analytics, which we present jointly with the UVA McIntire School of Commerce.

In 2017, we announced our permanent facilities in Rosslyn – the 30th and 31st floors of 1100 Wilson Boulevard, or as we call the space the Sands Family Grounds at UVA Darden DC Metro. This move was made possible by a $5 million gift from Sands Capital Management Founder and Chairman Franks Sands Sr. and CEO and Chief Investment Officer Frank Sands Jr.

The Grounds opened in 2018. We now have more than 450 degree students who study in Rosslyn, as well as hundreds of Executive Education & Lifelong Learning participants and a growing team of staff members.”

Leadership skills for real-world application

“Broadly speaking, the core curriculum and method of instruction in the Darden Executive MBA and Part-Time program offers students the ability to make difficult decisions and demonstrate leadership every day. In the classroom students engage with difficult business decisions, make hard choices, and explain their actions. This simulates the working world in many ways — a future supervisor is unlikely to give you the answer, after all. The way that students learn in our programs – active, application-based learning – makes it very easy for students to take the lessons from class and apply them at work in real-time. 

Today’s companies and institutions need agile, creative and critical thinkers and leaders who can manage the tremendous change taking place in our world today. Darden prepares students to become global leaders. We teach the skills that employers value most: teamwork and collaboration; problem-solving skills; leadership and management skills; and critical thinking and reasoning.

Yes, we teach the functional areas of accounting, marketing, operations and so on, but in an era of rapid change, what you know can obsolesce quickly. How you learn is key to effective leadership in the future. Darden teaches one how to learn – for life.

And for students hungry for that deeper dive into analytics and data, a program such as the MSBA combines Darden’s signature leadership experiences with leading-edge data and strategy components.”

Collaboration with DC’s robust professional network

“Many collaborations, both formal and otherwise. Being in Rosslyn has both strengthened and uncovered a variety of relationships with all manner of organizations, much to the benefit of Darden students. One is the Dean’s D.C. Fellows. That’s a group of business leaders who join Darden for two-year terms and engage with us on pressing global issues and collaborate with Darden faculty and students in a variety of ways, both in and out of the classroom. Being in Rosslyn has allowed us to collaborate with an incredible group, including leaders in media, communications, analytics, retired generals and even the former surgeon general of the United States.”

A lifetime of career support

“Darden has a variety of career resources available through the Darden Career Center, including dedicated counselors and coaches for professional degree students. Professional degree students are often broadly grouped into three camps – career climbers, career switchers, and entrepreneurs – and Darden has the resources and networks to support students along their personalized path. Additionally, Darden graduates receive complimentary career counseling for life through Darden Alumni Career Services, which is a dedicated team available to coach, counsel and support through every stage of a lifetime of meaningful work.

Darden alumni represent an incredible network, and students graduating with a Darden MBA join a group of more than 18,000 in 90 countries committed to each other’s success.”

To learn more about UVA Darden, visit

 Featured Rosslyn Events

Rosslyn FRESHFARM Farmers Market
Wednesday, May 1 - Wednesday, October 30
at Central Place Plaza

Trail Tuesdays with Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail
Tuesday, May 14 - Tuesday, September 10

Rosslyn Cinema
Friday, June 7 - Friday, June 21
at Gateway Park