Wisconsin Launches Trio Of New Master’s Programs

Students at the Wisconsin School of Business will have three new specialized master’s degrees to choose from starting in the fall. WSB photo

The Wisconsin School of Business has added three new specialized master’s programs in business analytics, real estate, and supply chain management, a move the school says will “match changing workforce needs” — and that certainly matches the needs of the B-school itself, which for the last two years has signaled a shift away from a MBA program losing both popularity and rankings prestige.

“These innovative programs address a market need and broaden the menu of undergraduate and graduate offerings at UW-Madison,” says Barry Gerhart, WSB’s interim dean, in a news release announcing the new programs. “We identified a strong demand for these three new programs by working with employers, students, advisory board members, and industry leaders.”

The new programs will join Wisconsin’s full-time MBA, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, and Master of Accountancy degrees, as well as its undergraduate, Ph.D., and professional development programs. Designed as one-year programs, the new M.S. offerings are intended to  allow students with undergraduate degrees “to gain targeted expertise and valuable contemporary skills to boost near-term employment prospects, long-term career trajectory, and earnings potential,” the school says.

“These fields show strong demand across a number of metrics and are built on a rich history of top-ranked, specialized offerings at WSB,” Gerhart says.


Enno Siemsen, associate dean for MBA and master’s programs at Wisconsin School of Business. WSB photo

WSB’s MBA program was very nearly cut outright by incoming Dean Anne Massey in the fall of 2017, before an outcry prompted a reversal and, in short order, Massey’s resignation. Nevertheless, it is a program that continues to struggle both in the rankings and in key metrics. The Wisconsin MBA dropped 10 places to 37th on the U.S. News list in the last three years; in P&Q‘s ranking, it has dropped more slowly but still steadily, sliding from 24th in 2011 to 33rd last year. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has experienced a slide in key measurements of MBA program health: Between 2011 and 2017 the school’s graduating MBAs’ three-month employment rate drop from 91% to 87%; meanwhile, enrollment has fallen dramatically, from an incoming cohort of 104 in 2017 to one that was just 79 strong in the fall 2018. In this light, Wisconsin’s three new degrees must be seen as a pivot.

The supply chain management and real estate offerings have been built out of current offerings: Gartner ranks the Wisconsin supply chain MBA specialization No. 10 in the U.S., while U.S. News & World Report ranks Wisconsin’s real estate undergraduate program No. 2. The supply chain M.S. is designated as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program, in which students gain “expert training to guide cross-functional business processes, learning about operations, marketing, analytics/information management, and risk management,” while the real estate offering will teach “the complexities of commercial real estate transactions and develop knowledge in areas such as real estate finance, urban planning, valuation, and development.”

Unlike the other two new degrees, the school’s business analytics offering is untethered to any curricular predecessors, being the first face-to-face biz analytics program at Wisconsin. The school created eight new courses for the curriculum of what is officially known as the Master of Science in Operations and Technology Management: Business Analytics, which the school website indicates will include the topics of data acquisition, analysis, and visualization, as well as machine learning, experimental design, optimization and more. Students will leave the program “prepared to enter the workforce and leverage data to answer complex business decisions.” It, too, is a STEM-designed program.

Available to both business and non-business students, the three new master’s programs are intended to deliver “a focused, intensive education for high-demand fields in Wisconsin and beyond,” the school announced. Students will complete 30 credits, with 21 required credits and nine elective credits over 10 months. Applications for the new M.S. programs are open for fall 2019 enrollment.

“The specialized master’s programs provide undergraduate students the opportunity to take one additional year to enhance their skills and will enable working professionals to redirect their careers,” says Enno Siemsen, associate dean for MBA and master’s programs. “The curriculum will provide students with intensive career preparation and real-world learning experiences.”


According to the school, the learning outcomes for all three programs were designed with employer input.

“By supplementing their undergraduate degrees, students can enter the workforce poised to succeed as analysts, managers, and associates across many companies and industries,” Siemsen says. WSB’s current corporate partners include Fortune 500 companies, global businesses, tech start-ups, and local corporations.; among the top 10 employers listed in the most recent MBA employment report are Cisco, Lilly, Target, Kimberley-Clark, and General Mills.

“There is an important need for professionals with a business background and effective, focused expertise,” Siemsen says. “We connected with global companies and current employers to understand the skills needed for students to succeed.”

Working with corporate partners and industry leaders helped inform WSB offerings and will enrich students’ experiences while at WSB, he adds. “Partnering with and listening to corporate partners helps the School meet students’ career aspirations. We are proud to already produce high-performing, collaborative professionals who move organizations forward,” Siemsen says. “These new M.S. programs will enable us to support an increasing number of students who aspire to careers in business.”


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