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At Mendoza, Analytics Meets The MBA

Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University will launch a dual MBA/MSBA degree program in the fall of 2017. Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University will launch a dual MBA/MSBA degree program in the fall of 2017. Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame is about to undergo its biggest change since just after the close of World War II. Mendoza will expand its curriculum and split its Management Department into two new, distinct departments while introducing a new dual-degree program.

The new two-year residential program will allow students to study for both an MBA and a Master of Science in Business Analytics beginning in the fall of 2017. The program will be overseen by the new Information Technology, Analytics, and Operations Department, says Rob Easley, an associate professor and chair of the new department. Meanwhile, the other new department, the Management & Organization Department, will continue to be responsible for programs “typically associated with a management department,” Easley says.

“This is a historic change for Mendoza College in that the last new department, Marketing, was created shortly after WWII,” Easley tells Poets&Quants.

THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE

Mary Goss

Mary Goss

Which is not to say Mendoza hasn’t seen its share of change in recent years, says Mary Goss, senior director of graduate business programs. The school launched a Master of Science in Management in 2013, and in January of 2015 introduced a Master of Science in Business Analytics and another in Finance. In 2016, Mendoza launched the Integral Leadership Development program for new MBA students, Goss says, “and we are excited about their response to the experience.” That week-long program takes place before students ever set foot in the classroom, giving them an opportunity “to be introspective and discover their core values, and think about how they can lead from those values in an authentic way.”

She adds: “Major changes in department structure are rare, but new programs are nothing new for us.”

Still, it’s no small thing to split a department in two and introduce new faculty and new curricula. But as Easley notes, the change was a long time coming — and vital for the future of the college, which ranked 25th in Poets&Quants’ most recent rankings, up from 36th the year before. (Both US News and Forbes also pegged it as a top-25 school — 25th and 23rd, respectively.)

“The MBA curriculum has seen many other significant changes over the years, in particular the Integrated Leadership Development sequence that Mary mentioned, which is another innovation that is complementary to this one but which benefits all students,” Easley says. “There has been a lot of discussion recently about how important analytical skills will be for leadership positions going forward. ILD helps round out that skill set.”

ANALYZING THE FUTURE

Rob Easley

Rob Easley

The new dual-degree program, intended for students with three to five years of work experience, is comprised of 68 credit hours — 30 for the MSBA side, including 21 core credits, some of which also satisfy MBA requirements. Designated a STEM program, the MBA/MSBA is what school administrators call a “non-lockstep” program that allows for the opportunity to take elective courses.

The program came about after years of feedback from students, faculty, and alumni, Goss and Easley say. Five years ago, Mendoza students started a Business Analytics Club and hosted a case competition focused on business analytics. Almost half of the students in the traditional MBA class of 2017 indicated business analytics as one of their two intended concentrations, “so the students have been sending a clear message about their interest in this area for some time.,” Goss says.

Looking to the future, Easley says, “given the growth in the analytics area and the need to devote resources and energy to building out programs in that area,” it was a necessary move.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to expand our analytics course offerings to meet this demand, and decided to go a step further to offer a full suite of courses sufficient to create the option of conferring the MSBA degree,” Easley says. “Thus, all MBA students will have access to a richer set of concentration options, while the dual-degree students will also take some additional courses specific to that program to earn both degrees.”

The key courses dedicated to dual-degree candidates are Inter-term Intensive courses, Easley says, one-week intensives that occur twice a year in the week just prior to the fall and spring breaks. MBA/MSBA dual-degree students will take a “Data Wrangling with R” intensive in spring of the first year to help prepare them for internships; the second-year inter-term courses will involve deep-dives with firms providing large-scale data sets and challenging analytics problems. Students also will participate in internships and experiential learning opportunities.