Ever since the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School gained STEM-designation for its entire MBA program two years ago, business schools have rushed in a stampede to offer the chance for international students to gain a pathway to work in the U.S. The latest school to add a STEM option will soon be Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business where the MBA program has long been known as a general management degree.
Tuck faculty approved on Jan. 17 an option for MBA students to earn formal recognition for significant learning in management science and quantitative analysis. “The growing interest in analytics tools and careers among current and prospective students was noted by the Tuck faculty during the recent core curriculum review process, resulting in an expanded focus on analytical skills in the refined core curriculum,” wrote Joseph Hall, senior associate dean for teaching and learning, in a Jan. 21 email announcing the STEM option.
Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business have gained STEM designation for their entire MBA programs. Many business schools, including Duke Fuqua, UVA Darden, Northwestern Kellogg, and Michigan Ross, have put STEM tracks in their MBA programs in recent months.
Most schools are embracing STEM to lure back international applicants who are increasingly concerned about both the anti-immigration rhetoric of the current administration as well as their ability to earn an H1B work visa to stay in the U.S. Last year, Tuck saw applications to its MBA program plunge by 22.5%, the largest for any school with a top ten MBA program. The decline sent Tuck’s MBA acceptance rate soaring by more than 11 percentage points to 34.5%, from 23.3% only a year earlier.
STEM OPTION AT TUCK WILL FEATURE A PORTFOLIO OF COURSES
A Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math designation for a track within its MBA program gives potential foreign applicants a pathway to a longer stay in the U.S. after graduation. Gaining STEM designation makes it possible for international graduates to remain stateside for an additional 24 months after graduation and receive training through work experience. All told, they could then work three full years in the U.S. in a STEM-related job.
“The new option will designate a portfolio of courses across the Tuck curriculum from which interested students can select to deepen their knowledge in analytics,” he added. “Once a student has completed the required number of courses, Tuck believes the student’s degree would best fit within the ‘Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods’ category on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program list.”
The new STEM option comes after Tuck revamped the core MBA curriculum for the Class of 2021. The changes include an expanded orientation program that now lasts two weeks, up from just one, called Tuck Launch. Among its features is a six-hour-long “CEO Experience” run by Tuck Professor Sydney Finkelstein that requires newly arrived MBA students to present solutions to challenges posed by chief executives in class. Also in the orientation is a core course composed of four three-hour hands-on sessions on Managing People.
NEW STEM OPTION GROWS OUT OF A REVAMP OF THE MBA CORE
In an interview with Poets&Quants, Hall said the curriculum update occurred after a six-month of the core that involved focus groups of students, alumni, and recruiters. “We heard that Tuck students need to be facile in analytic tools and be able to formulate and defend a point of view with data,” he added.
As a result of those findings, the school added a new sequence of data analytics courses in Fall A and Fall B terms along with a refined leadership framework. To make it easier for students to recruit for summer internships, Tuck also restructured its winter term. The change pushed back the start of the winter core courses by a week, eliminating two class sessions so that those courses now meet 16 times during the term rather than 18.
“Students had been taking four courses in winter term,” explained Hall. “Now they can take only two courses that meet on only Monday and Tuesdays, giving them the rest of the week to travel for off-campus interviews. They have to take at least one more elective in the following quarter. This is all focused on internship recruiting.
Under the new curriculum, Tuck also is providing personal leadership coaches to all students. Each MBA can have three one-on-one sessions with a coach. The school has recruited 30 coaches, half of them external to Tuck including alumni.