Specialized Master’s Programs At 100 Top Business Schools

MIT Sloan School of Management    - Ethan Baron photo

MIT Sloan School of Management – Ethan Baron photo

For Marshall administrators, there’s been a learning curve with the new master’s programs. Just 66% of the first set of finance graduates were employed by three months after graduation. “They were numbers that we wanted to have better,” Kovacevich admits. “One of the challenges in an MS program is you’re on a fast cycle. “You’re here taking classes, getting ready for the job market, and getting out in fairly quick order, so the students are having to adjust to that, and we’ve also learned how to better serve them in that quicker cycle.

“We’ve decentralized our structure so that we’ve put administrative support and career support closer to the students instead of trying to do it on a central basis.” Also, Marshall has created for each master’s program a calendar of workshops, networking events, and coaching opportunities, to boost employment outcomes. The latest crop of supply chain management grads will finish their program early in the new year, and more than 60% of them have job offers already, Kovacevich notes.

Last year, the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business, which has been running an accounting master’s since 2009, added three more specialty master’s degrees, in finance, supply chain management, and customer insights. Katz, ranked No. 40 among the top 100 U.S. B-schools, is launching a master’s in management information systems this fall. “There’s demand for this specialized MS product from both corporate recruiters and prospective students,” says Katz’s associate dean for master’s programs, Rabikar Chatterjee.

AIMING TO MATCH MBA STUDENT SERVICE

But these first iterations of the new master’s were essentially pilots, with only two or three students per class, partly because Katz only started marketing the programs a few months before rollout, making it difficult to enroll students. School officials want to extend Katz’s “high-touch, student-service-oriented” approach from the MBA program to all the master’s programs, he says.

“We have to juggle this in a way that ensures that the MS students get the same degree of customer service as the MBA students do. If we do go big, we will only do so when we are absolutely convinced that we have the resources, the wherewithal, to manage that process without diluting the student experience. Nothing against going big, per se, we’d love to generate the revenue. We just want to make sure we get it right, and then we will be ramping up.

“We also want to make sure we maintain quality, so we have been very, very careful in screening the applications as they come in. If we are absolutely flooded with quality applications, that would be a good problem to have, but we just want to make sure that given our resources, classroom capacities, we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew.”

With the new programs last year, school administrators discovered that the relatively short time-frame for the degrees raised issues around the scheduling and ordering of classes. “That’s one area where we’ve learned quite a bit,” Chatterjee says.

While the accounting master’s program takes in around 80 students per year, Katz administrators are aiming for classes of 40 for the finance degree and 20 to 25 for the three other specialty master’s programs, within three years.

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