For more than half a century, the only major in the MBA program at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business was industrial administration. It has long been a throwback to earlier days when the school granted a Master’s in Science in Industrial Administration and was named the Graduate School of Industrial Administration.
No more. The school, renamed after its major benefactor and alumnus in 2004, has a new major befitting its enduring focus on decision making based on quantitative models and an analytical approach. Along with the change to “management science,” Tepper has also won STEM- (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) designation for its entire MBA program, becoming only the second U.S. business school after the University of Rochester to gain that distinction.
With business analytics and big data now growing in importance, the school’s leadership believes that the more overt focus on management science is timely and more in keeping with the school’s rigorous approach to business education. The change occurs at a time when many other business schools are feverishly playing catchup to meet the increased demand for students who can leverage big data sets for smart decision making.
TEPPER REINFORCES ITS POSITIONING ON MANAGEMENT SCIENCE
“For us, it’s really about making sure that we correctly position the school as management science,” explains Robert Dammon, dean of the Tepper School. “The Tepper School is really the place where management science was developed, and we have been doing management science for a very long time. The commitment to intellectual rigor runs deep. The change dovetails nicely with the reputation and the brand of the university as a technology university.”
It is also a move that will make the school a more viable alternative to international applicants who are applying to U.S. business schools in fewer numbers due to the uncertainty of gaining work visas after graduation. MBAs at Tepper can now take the school’s tracks in entrepreneurship, energy or tech strategy and product management and still get the precious STEM designation that allows international students the ability to extend Optional Practical Training (OPT) by 24 months, for a total of three years without H1B visa sponsorship.
“The STEM designation is obviously going to be attractive to international students,” says Dammon. Thirty-five percent of Tepper’s existing MBA enrollment comes from outside the U.S. “Our current international students have asked us why isn’t this school STEM-designated given the approach we take. I suspect this will be a strong positive for international students looking to get an MBA in the U.S. We are hopeful that we become a school that international students want to come to.”
STEM-DESIGNATION IS A SIGNAL THAT THESE ARE IMPORTANT SKILLS IN DEMAND
Tepper’s management science focus has its roots in the school’s nine Nobel Prize winners from Franco Modigliani and Herbert Simon to Merton Miller and Robert Lucas, Jr. Those economists set the stage for this latest change. “We really are the business school that put the science into management science,” maintains Sevin Yeltekin, senior associate dean of education at Tepper.
“When I think about the STEM designation, what does it really mean? It’s a signal that these are the important skills that are in demand and that are important for the U.S. economy. That is why that designation is important to begin with. What we are trying to convey is that this is the MBA program that will give you the skills and tools that are very much in demand. That is important for any student, no matter where they are from or what they intend to do.”
The change occurs in the aftermath of a pair of accreditation reviews that reinforced the school’s long-standing scientific approach to business education. “As part of doing both those reviews, we looked carefully at our curriculum, program goals, and learning outcomes,” adds Dammon. “We came to the conclusion that the current description of our program and the major industrial administration needed to change to better reflect what we do and to better capture our scientific approach to management. Management science describes so perfectly where we want to be and where we want to go in the future.”