Students will get more options in designing their course mix
May 31, 2010
The University of Connecticut School of Business is redesigning its MBA program to establish a more student-centric curriculum that gives enrollees a larger say in their academic plan.
The changes include gradually eliminating cookie-cutter concentrations — such as finance, marketing, information technology and real estate — to allow students to develop more individualized plans of study within those broader topics or disciplines.
The goal is to have students more closely match their course work to the type of career they would like to have 10 to 15 years from now, a concept not being replicated by many other MBA programs across the country, said Michael Deotte, the executive program director of UConn’s MBA program.
Deotte said the school is going to use the revamped curriculum as a major selling point to potential students. He said he hopes the changes enhance the school’s pedigree as an innovator in the market, and allow it become recognized as a top 20 MBA program.
“We feel that these changes are the best way to differentiate our graduates and more importantly position them in the marketplace for success,” Deotte said.
UConn’s new MBA program will begin this fall with the incoming class of about 70 students. Those who will be in their second year of the MBA program will have the option of continuing with their original plan of study or taking advantage of the new curriculum redesign, Deotte said.
The revamped program still will take two years to complete and require students to earn 57 credits.
UConn Business School officials have been doing a comprehensive assessment and redesign of the MBA program for the past year and a half, with the goal of having all students graduate with an individualized plan of study, Deotte said.
Traditionally, students have been required to choose more stringent curriculums from one of the school’s six major concentrations.
The new program will require incoming students to complete a three-to-five-page essay or statement of purpose that outlines where they want to be career wise in 10 to 15 years.
Once on campus, students will work with an advisory committee, made up of faculty, alumni, field specialists, and career center advisors, who will help guide and craft students through creating an individualized plan of study.
While there will be no new courses to choose from, at least in the first semester, students will be able to choose from a broader selection of course options, and even have the chance to take courses outside of the business school.
A student who wants to pursue a career in brand marketing, for example, may consider course studies in areas like marketing, management as well as finance.
One of the big components of the program will be incorporating experiential learning, which allows students to perform work in real-world settings.
The GE/UConn edgelab in Stamford, for example, allows MBA students to work with experts from Fairfield-based General Electric on projects that aim to have a $1 million impact on the company’s bottom line, either through cost cutting or revenue enhancements.
There is also the investment experiential learning program that allows students to manage and invest $2 million worth of UConn Foundation money.
Students will be required to earn three to six credits in these programs, which aim to shape real-world analytical skills.
UConn already has a top ranked MBA program, but Deotte said the changes aim to make it even more attractive to students.
The school’s MBA Program was ranked 27th among all U.S. institutions in 2009 and 12th among public schools, according to Forbes Magazine. The new changes could push UConn into the top 20 rankings, officials said.
Since many MBA grads are having a tough time finding jobs right now, any program that offers more real-world experience should be a major selling point for the school and give it a leg up on the competition, Deotte said.
John Fernandes, the president and CEO of The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which accredits business schools across the country including UConn, said allowing students to have more ability to choose curriculum is a must.
He said many MBA programs today tend to be more general in nature, giving students more say in how to shape their plan of study. He also is seeing a trend toward trying to create more well-rounded students.
In the past, many programs focused largely on developing students’ analytical skills, but today there is a larger focus on producing graduates who can also generate social and economic value beyond just making a profit for a company.
The trend is being spurred by the ethical lapses and frauds perpetuated by firms like Enron and WorldCom, and more recently by the financial crisis, which has given Wall Street a bad name.
“It’s not enough to just make money anymore,” Fernandes said. “You must also be a good citizen. Many MBA programs are focusing their curriculum on building individuals with enhanced ethical capacity and a stronger commitment to society.”
UConn MBA Fast Facts Length of Program: Two years Cost: First year: $10,594 in-state; $24,814 out-of-state. Second year: $11,226 in-state; $26,310, out-of-state. Class Of 2010 Median GMAT score: 620 Applicants: 270 Acceptance rate: 38% Enrolled: 55 % Residing In U.S.: 62% Median Undergrad GPA: 3.5 Median Years Work Experience: 4.7 Class of 2008 Median First-Year Compensation Base: $90,000 Signing Bonus: $13,500 Source: UConn, Forbes Magazine