New Jersey’s leading business school has joined the teeming ranks of schools in the United States that offer pathways to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math degrees. Rutgers Business School, in its 64th year, announced the STEM designation Tuesday (September 2) for its full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs, beginning this fall.
Rutgers MBA students may pursue any concentration as a STEM degree. All they need to do to qualify: have 50% of their total required core degree credits be in STEM-designated courses.
“We have taken another giant step toward building a strong business school for the future of work,” Rutgers Business School Dean Lei Lei said in a news release. “The STEM designation will provide our students with a competitive edge to excel on the job market, and our corporate partners will know they can hire the digital-era talent that they need to make data-driven decisions and become innovative leaders in their organizations.”
A NATURAL STEP FOR A DATA-HEAVY CURRICULUM
Poets&Quants ranked Rutgers 50th in the U.S. in 2018, but the school dropped precipitously in last year’s list, down to 63rd; between 2018 and 2019 the school fell even more, 14 places, on U.S. News‘ ranking, though it rebounded two spots in 2020,
Perhaps seeking to shake things up — and certainly hoping to keep pace with competitors, many of whom have already embraced STEM as the future of the MBA degree — Rutgers is getting onboard a fast-moving train. Since 2019, all the top 25 schools and many others in the top 50 have joined the STEM stampede. Among myriad other reasons, Rutgers is no doubt concerned about maintaining its high level of international enrollment: In last year’s full-time class, international students made up 22% of the student body, though the school more typically averages about 30%. Over the last nine years, the percentage of international students has ranged from a low of 21% to a high of 40%. International students who complete a STEM MBA are eligible to work up to three years in the U.S. without requiring sponsorship from an employer.
Rutgers’ STEM option allows all students, foreign and domestic, to pursue any of the traditional concentrations of study, such as supply chain management or marketing, but requires them to incorporate at least 50% of their program credits from curriculum identified as STEM. Doug Miller, associate dean of MBA programs and an associate professor of management, says going STEM was a natural step because Rutgers was already providing the courses and experiences that would help students develop data-driven analytic skills for business use.
More than 50% of existing courses offered as part of Rutgers’ MBA curriculum currently require advanced mathematics or involve the management of technology, including operations analysis, data mining, business forecasting, and quality management, Miller said in a news release.
“The increasing demand for such skills allows Rutgers Business School to leverage its strengths in new ways to make this learning available to more students,” Miller says.
PROVIDING STUDENTS WITH ‘CRITICAL THINKING & LEADERSHIP QUALITIES’
Rutgers’ 50% STEM credit threshold will be easy to meet for students with concentrations such as finance, pharmaceutical management, supply chain management, and analytics and information management, Miller says. However, students with concentrations in more “poet”-inclined areas like real estate or strategy and leadership will need careful planning to meet the requirement.
Students who choose to pursue a STEM MBA may select a concentration or customize a concentration depending on their career goals. Many of the traditional courses offered as part of the MBA program use case studies, experiential learning and collaboration to build knowledge and skills that are not tied to the use of math, science, or technology. The option of earning a STEM MBA “increases the strong reputation and ROI of the Rutgers MBA program, which also provides students with access to world-class faculty and connections to an extensive network of alumni as well as a life-changing education,” according to a school statement.
“The ability to make data-driven decisions involves analysis of situations as well as data,” Miller says. “At Rutgers Business School, we’re providing students with critical thinking and leadership qualities as well as technical skills.”