Skip to main content


The Master of Business Studies in Lean Enterprise Excellence is an executive/practitioner programme providing participants with the required knowledge, know-how, know-why, and skills to advance as Lean and Continuous Improvement leaders in organisations.


The programme is fully delivered Online in part-time mode across a 2-year period. Classes are synchronous and delivered in block-release format (3-hours; 4-hours; 6-hours) on assigned evenings and occasional Saturdays.


This Lean Black Belt standard was co-designed in collaboration with leading Lean practice organisations from across services, manufacturing, healthcare, and construction sectors. A graduate of this programme will be considered a “Black Belt in Lean”. The School of Business equates the concept of Black Belt to Level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) Ireland. Graduates will receive a letter from the School of Business stating that their capability equates to Black Belt in Lean standard upon completion of the associated Continuous Improvement Project module and assignments to the required level.


The programme is founded on seminal theories and thinking from scientific management, quality management, world-class manufacturing, change management, the Toyota Production System (TPS), The Toyota Way, and the Shingo Model. Building on that foundation, we synthesise the principles, systems, culture, and behaviours that are integral to contemporary Lean organisational and enterprise excellence.

Participants attain in-depth understanding of wider organisational contexts, cross-sectoral applications, and both manufacturing and service orientations. The programme is distinctive in its focus on the critical, but less understood and invariably challenging, “soft” elements integral to effective Lean leadership and management. Thus, participants explore Lean philosophy and thinking; Lean leadership; Lean strategy deployment/hoshin kanri; organisational culture and employee engagement; Lean transformation and change management; and systems thinking, the learning organisation, and action learning.

Additionally, participants examine the "hard" Lean tools and techniques elements like, for example, Process Mapping, Value Stream Mapping, A3 Problem-Solving, and 5S. Participants also attain Black Belt level competency in key elements of statistical process control and business analytics, as well as completion of a live-laboratory continuous improvement project (CIP).


The programme provides a balanced approach between the academic and the practical, and includes real-world application via the live-laboratory continuous improvement project plus industry contributions from guest speakers. Our approach enables extensive and deep peer learning amongst and between participants who come from a wide variety of sectors and from both public and private organisations that are at various stages of their respective Lean journeys.

Undertaking academic paper assignments and the capstone research dissertation project advances participants’ research and writing skills as well as their knowledge-base in Lean thinking and best practices integral to the contemporary Lean Enterprise.


Upon successfully attaining the requisite 90 Credits, participants will be conferred with the qualification of “Master of Business Studies in Lean Enterprise Excellence” from SETU, and receive their “Lean Black Belt” letter. (For those who may not wish to complete the full Masters, there is a programme exit mechanism available following completion of Year 1 and successful attainment of its 60 Credits, and, in such cases, students would exit with a Level 9, 60 Credit Postgraduate Diploma in Business in Lean Enterprise Excellence.)

Graduates have advanced to key positions as Site Leads or Senior Director/Managers in Lean/CI/OpEx. Many have been headhunted by other organisations, and others have become Lean Service Providers offering consultancy and training in Ireland and abroad.


The Academy of Lean Enterprise Excellence and Faculty Members are co-founders, leaders, and strategic advisors to a number of regional and national entities, and have been integral in the development of the national Lean ecosystem. Our programme participants and alumni become part of the regional, national, and global communities of learning and practice in Lean.

Year 1 - 60 credits

Semester 1 (Sep - Dec)Semester 2 (Jan - Apr)Semester 3 (May - Sep)
Lean Enterprise ExcellenceLean EngagementContinuous Improvement Project (CIP)  (20 Credits)
Lean Business Analytics 1Lean Business Analytics 2
Lean Tools & Techniques 1Lean Tools & Techniques 2
Lean Strategy & SustainabilityLean Transformation

(All of the Semester 1 and 2 modules are worth 5 Credits each.)

Year 2 - 30 credits

Semester 4 (Sep - Dec)Semesters 5 & 6 (Jan - Aug)
Research Methods & Techniques (10 Credits)Lean Masters Dissertation (20 Credits)


The programme is fully delivered Online and in Synchronous mode. Participants are provided with the full programme schedule for their academic year at the commencement and orientation session in mid-September. Classes are in block-release format (3-hours; 4-hours; 6-hours) on assigned evenings and (Year 1 only) occasional Saturdays. Live conference classes take place via Zoom or MS Teams, with participants accessing the SETU Zoom and MS Teams accounts as registered students.

The Semester 1 modules are delivered in block-release format each Monday evening (18:00–21:00/22:00), plus 4 Saturdays (09:00–15:00/16:00). The Semester 2 modules are delivered in block-release form each Monday evening (18:00–21:00/22:00), plus 4 Saturdays (09:00–15:00/16:00). Semester 3 comprises self-directed work and independent learning for the remainder of the summer period, culminating in CIP presentations at the start of September.

In Year 2, the single Semester 4 module is delivered in block-release form each Monday evening (18:00–21:00). Semesters 5 & 6 run from January through August of Year 2. This second year sees participants focused on their research projects for the Lean Masters Dissertation, which entails extensive self-directed work and independent learning on their chosen research areas of interest, and with the support and guidance of their assigned Supervisors who mentor them through the research and write-up process.


All modules must be passed and each module is assessed by assignment, incorporating continuous assessment (graded) and formative assessment (un-graded). There are no end-of-term summative examinations.

Semester 1 and Semester 2 modules are worth 5 Credits each. The CIP is worth 20 Credits, and is a work-based project wherein participants develop and deliver a real-world improvement initiative within their organisations. The CIP is worked on across the entirety of the first year, and represents the Year 1 capstone project with final deliverables at the end of Semester 3.

In Year 2, participants undertake a dedicated research year commencing in Semester 4 with a 10 Credit Research Methods & Techniques module, with a research proposal being a key output. Participants subsequently undertake their 20 Credit Dissertation project based on their proposals, and represents the Year 2 capstone deliverable.


When officially registered as students, programme participants attain full access to SETU online resources, including Moodle – our virtual learning environment (VLE) – as well as academic databases and other online library facilities, and SETU Zoom and MS Teams accounts. Any recommended books and other readings will be indicated by each Lecturer for their respective modules.


To be considered for entry onto the Master of Business Studies in Lean Enterprise Excellence, applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Applicants should have a Level 8 qualification, in any discipline, along with a minimum of 3 years’ relevant industry experience; and, where applicants do not have a previous Level 8 qualification, they will be considered on the basis of a recognition of prior learning (RPL) application to a Level 8 standard or equivalent and provided they have a minimum of 5 years’ relevant industry experience.
  • Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to present evidence of competence that meet the University's English Language Requirements for Postgraduate Programmes.



Applications for this programme are made online by registering on the PAC website where applicants should enter SE43H in the “Course Name or Code” field, and, when Master of Business Studies in Lean Enterprise Excellence appears they should click on “Register to Apply”.

Applications are invited each year from January for intake in September of that year. Subject to satisfying the aforementioned entry criteria, applicants will be offered places on a first-come-first-served basis per their PAC registrations.


Several graduates have gone on to pursue Level 10 Doctoral Research whilst continuing to work and/or as part of an industry reserach partnership. Interested parties can undertake the structured Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) at SETU (Waterford).


Ireland is a recognised global leader in Lean Enterprise and Operational Excellence, and there thus exists a high demand nationally and internationally for graduates with Lean knowledge, know-how, know-why, and skills. Graduates of the Master of Business Studies in Lean Enterprise Excellence from SETU (Waterford) are highly valued within their organisations and highly sought-after in general.

In addition to the extensive knowledge and learning acquired, the applied nature of the programme and real-world individual and group problem-solving provide participants with invaluable experience and skills that enable their workplace-readiness and capability to implement Lean in any sector, organisation type and scale. The vast majority of participants are employer-funded, and this further affirms the importance that organisations increasingly place on Lean capacity and capability development.


Graduates have advanced to key positions as Site Leads/Managers in Lean/Operational Excellence/CI. Many have been headhunted by other organisations, and others have become Lean Service Providers offering consultancy and training in Ireland and abroad.


The Academy of Lean Enterprise Excellence and Faculty Members are co-founders, leaders, and strategic advisors to a number of regional and national entities, and have been integral in the development of the national Lean ecosystem. Our programme participants and alumni become part of the regional, national, and global communities of learning and practice in Lean.

Graduate Testimonials

“As I reached a cross roads in my journey of improvement, and following an intense scrutiny of the many courses available to me across a range of colleges, my decision to partake in the MBS in Lean Enterprise Excellence at SETU Waterford will forever stand to me as a pivotal moment both professionally and personally. Under the sage guidance of the experienced and passionate lecturers, we were guided through the programme with a steady and challenging approach. The ability to learn and develop as a group as well as individually set the course apart from my previous experiences. Although the course reached a conclusion, the interaction never stops. You may complete the programme with a distinguished qualification, however you will maintain a close connection to the Lean and Enterprise Excellence community forever. The course will always remain a true inspiration for me – one that has inspired me to pursue doctoral research in the space at SETU.”

- Tom Finn, Managing Director, LEED Strategy Limited

“The Lean Masters at SETU (Waterford) is simply an immersive experience delivered by world-class lecturers and researchers who are at the forefront of their industry.  Having come from an academic background, I appreciate both the rigour and the impactful nature of the content that was delivered. This was wonderfully balanced through practical and outcome-centred learning, which has been nothing short of transformative. That word extends to both myself as an individual and Red Hat, the company which I work for. It has opened up and accelerated a career path for me simply by making a connection between a family of process improvement methodologies, several of which that I had reached the highest accolades in, and the people centric pursuit of continuous improvement that it fosters in all students. For Red Hat, those skills are now poised to guide how we operate. I have been appointed the transformative lead for 12,000 Associates, governing a multi-billion dollar product line, and that multi-year transformative journey towards continuous improvement has just begun. That simply would not have been possible without the skills, knowledge and insight that I received within the Lean Masters.”

- Dr Leigh Griffin, Product Engineering Transformation Leader, Red Hat

“Having completed the MBS in Lean Enterprise Excellence, I can thoroughly recommend this course to anyone or any organisation looking to implement a lean strategy. The programme draws from a very wide body of knowledge that encompasses Lean philosophy, strategy, implementation, engagement, and respect for people. It is delivered in a very clear and structured way, introducing and demonstrating the use of Lean Tools, approaches which enables the learner to fully understand and develop a practical Lean mindset to apply in the workplace. The course content is very relevant with a high degree of project engagement with students supported by expert lecturers and industry peers contributing as guest speakers throughout the programme. I found the course itself hugely rewarding and we are seeing the benefits as we progress towards a more efficient and leaner operation through a continuous improvement mindset and implementation of Lean strategies throughout the business.”

- Michael Holton, Operations Director, Kent Stainless Steel Limited

"As a Continuous Improvement practitioner, I was looking to deepen my understanding of Lean to progress my career and enable the successful implementation of Lean at my site. The MBS in Lean Enterprise Excellence was the ideal platform for me to achieve my goals and grow as a Lean practitioner. The course challenged me to think deeply about Lean and understand its power when done well. The course encompassed both the practical elements of Lean as well as the theoretical aspects of Lean that are so important to appreciate. Being able to explore the links between Lean and the Learning Organisation was a particular highlight. I am able to look back on the Lean Masters as an important and worthwhile step in my personal and professional development."

- Liam Henry, Continuous Improvement Coach, Eli Lilly

"I could not recommend highly enough the MBS in Lean Enterprise Excellence. The focus on Lean philosophy, strategy, engagement, and transformation, along with Lean tools, techniques, and business analytics, enables students to develop new perspectives on their organisations and sectors from day one. The Lecturers all deliver with enthusiasm and a drive for continuous improvement within the programme that makes for an engaging and exciting journey into Lean thinking for all participants. This programme has developed my capabilities as a Lean leader within a quality control setting, and I received a promotion during the second year that was a direct result of the application of skills developed on the course."

 - Gráinne Kenny, Project Leader, Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, Waterford

The MBS in Lean Enterprise was exactly what I needed at the right time. My goals were to progress in the areas of professional and personal development and integrate this with my twenty years’ industry experience. This course shines a light on the critical area of the philosophy that underpins Lean thinking and practice. This, combined with the Lean tools, experienced lecturers, varied teaching methods, and diverse participants delivered a unique learning experience. The course has certainly altered my thinking and added value at this point in my career. A course of this quality is essential to survive and thrive in today’s competitive business world.

 - Declan Blanchfield, Compliance Specialist & Continuous Improvement Support, MSD Carlow

Completing my Higher Diploma in Business in Operational Excellence in Waterford in 2016 influenced my decision to undertake the MBS in Lean Enterprise Excellence. This Executive Masters was exactly what I wanted to do to continue with my personal and professional development in production and operations. Over the course of the two years, not only do you learn about the history of Lean, but you also learn about Lean tools and techniques, as well as Lean engagement and transformation. A key aspect of this Lean Masters is that you get to apply your learnings in practice in your CIP, and, in year two, you get the opportunity to write your dissertation, which for me was not just challenging but extremely rewarding. What makes this course so special is the relevance of the course and the positive interactions with the lecturers, and I highly recommend the Lean Masters for any executive or practitioner seeking to apply real Lean knowledge, skills, and strategy in their workplace.” 

- Joanne Skeffington, Senior Production Supervisor, Boston Scientific Clonmel 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time working through the MBS in Lean Enterprise Excellence. It has both complemented and strengthened my understanding of Lean. It is delivered in a way allowing those with hectic schedules to fulfil both their academic and professional undertakings. Working through the course content and a Lean dissertation with the supportive and knowledgeable lecturers, I have built a skillset that can only benefit myself and those with whom I work in my future career.” 

- Martin Ryan, CQV/Project Engineer, CAI 

"The MBS in Lean Enterprise has equipped me with the knowledge and tools I needed to grow a newly-established Continuous Improvement Department. The programme has the right balance of practical and academic learning which enables you to start on your Lean journey from the get-go.  The CIP and dissertation projects allow you to work on something ‘real’ which is not just destined for the bookshelf.  The course has been so rewarding on a personal and professional level, our internal and external customers are now benefitting from a new approach to problem-solving which has resulted in better customer service all-round."

- Elaine Dooley, IS Project Leader, Continuous Improvement, Waterford City and County Council


Course Leaders

Mr Darrin Taylor

Lecturer in Management -

Call: +35351834129

Email: [email protected]


Mr Aidan Walsh

Lecturer in Management -

Call: +35351845631

Email: [email protected]