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Fuqua Hikes MBA Appeal To Internationals

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University (Photo by Alex Boerner)

With interest in data analytics booming, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business today (Sept. 18) announced the addition to its full-time MBA program of a certificate in management science and technology management. At Fuqua, it is the third certificate available to MBA students. The school’s health sector certificate is already taken by 20% of the MBA enrolled at Fuqua.

“This is something that continues along the theme of being able to prepare students to successfully move into the tech sector,” says William Boulding, dean of the Fuqua School. “MBAs will increasing move in this direction as the digital revolution and big data combine to change what companies are doing.”

No less crucial, the availability of the certificate will likely make Fuqua more attractive to international applicants. That’s because students who take the sequence of courses to earn the certificate would be eligible to obtain a work visa that will allow them an additional two years of work in the U.S. if placed in a STEM-related job.


Fuqua Dean William Boulding (Photo by Justin Cook)

The new option came out of Fuqua’s July launch of a 10-month-long specialized master’s degree in quantitative management. “When we introduced the quantitative management program, we thought it would be great for the daytime MBA students,” explains Boulding. “So over the summer, we began working on the idea of creating a certificate within our day-time program.”

The decision was also informed by market demand. “There are many programs in data analytics, but the feedback we’ve been getting from the business community is that people from those specialized programs are missing business context,” says Boulding. “So it is harder for them to understand what they are looking for and when they find it. The second thing is we don’t want to have a program that chases out all of the activities around our Team Fuqua culture. Our program produces leaders who work effectively with others. That part of our identify creates more value when you connect that to the analytics capability.”

Fuqua said the new certificate will be available to current students. “We expect that 25 to 40 students will graduate with this certificate in the Class of 2018,” says Boulding, “and it will probably grow from there. It may go from 50 to 80 as more prospective students learn about its existence.”


Ultimately, adds Boulding, he expects that more than 20% of Fuqua’s full-time MBA students to take advantage of the new addition. “Over 20% of our graduates are already going into the tech space so when you think about the demands for this kind of focus, it just makes sense. Add all the financially oriented students who are going into fintech and you’ll find that students are moving to where the puck will be as opposed to where it is, as Wayne Gretzky said.”

Fuqua said students who want to gain the designation would have to complete eight elective courses, roughly half of their elective course load: Five electives in the domain of tools and skills and three electives in how those tools can be applied. Examples of “tools” courses would include Forecasting and Data Analytics for Business. Examples of “applications” classes would include Managing Innovation and Game Theory for Strategic Advantage.

Some of the courses already exist, while others are being reconfigured for the new certificate program. A few courses are new, including a class on blockchain technology. “An example of the tools-based courses might be those that look at the world of fintech and blockchain technology and how you can work with data more effectively to drive innovation,” explains Boulding. “On the application side, it would be a course in managing innovation as opposed to focusing on the modeling of innovation that might be in the first group. “We want people to have breadth as they are working through these electives.”


Besides the existing certificate in the health sector, Fuqua also offers a certificate in financial excellence taken by about ten students at a time. But the new option in analytics is likely to increase the percentage of international applicants to the school, particularly because of the work visa advantages for graduates.

The percentage of international students at Fuqua in this year’s incoming class of 439 MBA students was 39%, just a tick down from 40% a year earlier. International candidates made up 52% of the applicant pool in 2016-2017 vs. 55% in the previous year. In any case, the new option should make Fuqua more attractive to larger numbers of applicants from outside the U.S. who want to work here.

“One of the things this does is that there are rules that come from a combination of the Department of Education and Homeland Security on what garners STEM designation,” says Boulding. “That matters because it connects to an extension of the work permission and optional practical training permission. With STEM, you get two additional years if you are placed into a STEM-related job besides the one year you would get. So it mimics the structure of our quantitative management degree program which also has STEM designation.

“We don’t fear having this new area of specialization and attracting people who may be a little bit different,” adds Boulding. “We are always looking to take it up a notch by paying attention to what is going on in the world.”