While the United States is considered home to the most of the world’s top MBA programs, Europe has long had the perceived edge when it comes to the other general graduate business degree: the master in management. In what is currently the only ranking of MiMs by a major news outlet, U.S. programs are all but shut out year after year — and while we can point to U.S. schools’ refusal to participate in The Financial Times‘ annual list for the annual omissions, it remains indisputably true that deep-seated Europe-centrism on the part of the UK-based magazine and in the world of graduate business education has dampened any outcry against the oversight.
U.S. MiMs are due for a serious appraisal, and Poets&Quants is giving it to them, beginning with this series on the best and most innovative MiM programs in the U.S. and continuing later this year with our first master in management ranking. Stay tuned!
The inaugural profile to launch this new series is a MiM at one of the most exciting business schools in the country: Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gies’ Master of Science in Management encompasses both residential and online programs; the former is a 9-month STEM-designated program, and the latter, fully online, can be finished anywhere between one and five years.
|Length of Program||9 months||12-60 months|
*iMSM Data: Gies Online Student Enrollments / iMSM / Fall 2022
HALLMARKS OF THE GIES MSM & iMSM
Distinct aspects of Gies’ MSM program include elite career advising team support that complements a professional development/career course in the program, as well as two client consulting experiences built into the curriculum that feature actual companies, giving students the opportunity to practice teamwork and learn what it’s like to work with clients in the real world. These experiential elements are not extracurricular and offer an opportunity to access all Illinois campus resources, labs, and student groups.
The Gies MSM offers foundational knowledge in eight core business areas and a wide variety of electives to choose from within Gies and the entire campus, all taking place in just two semesters. New concentrations in marketing and organizational leadership will be coming to the program soon, joining tracks in data analytics, finance, management, and global business.
The chief hallmark of the iMSM is its flexibility, allowing students to take as long as 60 months to complete all requirements. The highly diverse Gies iMSM was designed for practical application with 24 credit hours of core/required courses in business fundamentals and 12 credit hours of electives to allow customization of the degree. Students have opportunities for immersions (both virtual and in person) and networking opportunities with experienced professionals from across the globe. Moreover, students in the iMSM have the ability to stack a 12-credit-hour graduate certificate into the degree — for example, by completing a three-course sequence in Strategic Leadership & Management, they can apply all 12 credit hours toward the iMSM, meaning they would immediately be 33% done. The Gies iMSM’s high flexibility is matched by its impressive affordability: It costs less than $12K, about one-third the cost of the residential MSM. The program also offers a performance-based admissions track program for those who may not meet the minimum admission criteria.
Both the MSM and iMSM boast top faculty, diverse class profiles, stackability into Gies’ celebrated iMBA, and optional GMAT admissions.
STUDENT SUCCESS STORIES
After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Illinois, Kashief King is following the guidance of one of his undergrad professors and working toward his MSM at the Gies College of Business.
Like many MSM students, King didn’t have a particular career goal in mind, but he saw the value in a general management education.
“I knew I had a fifth year of eligibility that I could take, and (my) professor (Hayden) Noel recommended the MSM,” says King, a native of Trinidad & Tobago who ran track and field for Illinois. “It’s really a universal degree that is applicable to so many industries. Everyone needs leaders and managers. When I am finished with track and field, I will have the managerial knowledge to manage my money, know what to invest in, and understand what types of business I can start.”
So far, he adds, his experience in the MSM program has been exactly what he had hoped for.
“The MSM program has been great,” King says. “Everything we have learned is applicable to real life. I see myself using it today, and I’m not even finished yet. This program is so effective and so helpful putting us in a best situation to be better leaders and managers.”
Jackie Ovassapian, graduate of the Gies MSM
“I’m really not stuck in any one field. I like my job, I like what I do, but if I didn’t, I have other skills that I can take because of the MSM program and hands-on hard skills that I can put on a resume and hand to someone, or I have a lot of soft skills too that I can talk to someone, make a connection and try to move. And that all came from the MSM.
“For me, I knew, like I said, I had the theater skills and knowledge, and I had some of this human connection knowledge from psychology, but I didn’t have the business acumen, the accounting skills, anything like that, that I really needed to be where I want to be. I always knew I wanted to be in management and I didn’t have those skills. So for me, when looking at the skills I needed, the MSM put it all in front of me on a webpage.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I need that one. I need that one. I need that one. Great.’ One of the biggest things was I enjoyed going to class with my cohort because it was such a group-based program. Knowing everyone in my classes made it a lot easier to learn because we didn’t have to spend time getting to know each other. It was like, ‘Oh, Danny, I was on this project with you. Nick, I was on this project with you. Here, we already know our strengths.’ So we were kind of able to learn the way you do in a work environment, which was really nice.
“From the faculty side of things, they were really, really supportive. And I’m not just saying that. I had faculty who spent hours on the phone with me during my job search, both with offers, with interviews, good times and bad, supporting me through it, making sure I was successful at the end of the program. And I think that made all the difference in where I landed and how I feel about the program at large, because I was never on my own unless I really wanted to be.”
Kevin Davis, graduate of the Gies iMSM
“I have a background in marketing and was looking for a graduate program that would allow me to advance my skills in that discipline. But I also wanted to broaden my business knowledge across areas like organizational strategy, accounting, and process management. I researched MBA programs and graduate programs in marketing, and then I heard about the Master of Science and Management program at the University of Illinois Gies College of Business. The iMSM perfectly aligned with my interests in strategic management and gave me lots of flexibility with my demanding work schedule.
“The Gies online program was a great fit for me and exceeded my expectations in terms of the level of engagement with faculty, the strong connections with talent and peers, and the relevance of the coursework. In fact, 30 days after completing my degree, I received a promotion and I know it was a result of what I learned in the program.”
Luis Illanes, iMSM student
“I’m a senior network engineer with a company in Boston, but I work remotely from my home, Bolivia. A year ago, I was looking to further define my career path and started researching online degree programs that would help deepen my leadership skills and give me a broader sense of management relations. I knew Illinois was a great university, and I was immediately drawn to the Masters in Management program at the Gies College of Business.
“The iMSM has been a great choice for lots of reason. The curriculum is very pragmatic and relevant, and it is delivered in a highly interactive way by faculty who are experts in their field. And I could take that content, I used it immediately in my work, managing a team and advancing the organization.
“The Gies iMSM is also an extremely flexible program that can accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. In my cohort alone, there were experienced and talented managers and directors from all over the world in a variety of industries with a variety of backgrounds that broadened the experience for all of us. Finally, being a scholarship recipient was a key driver for me, and also an evidence of the college commitment to give access to high quality education.”
See the next page for a Q&A about the Illinois Gies College of Business MSM and iMSM programs with Nerissa Brown, associate dean of graduate programs and professor of accountancy.
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