Inside The Unique Dual-Degree Program That Transcends The U.S.-Mexico Border

Last month, more than two dozen CETYS Universidad students graduated at the University of San Diego through the CETYS MBA Double Degree program. Another graduation ceremony in Mexico is scheduled for later this month. Courtesy photo

The U.S.-Mexico border is often associated with lawlessness and violence. It’s an exaggerated picture that is often amplified by politically motivated media. Now two business schools — one on either side of the border — are working to change that image, and last month they marked an important milestone.

Twenty-seven Mexican business school students spent last Saturday (May 27) collecting a pair of graduate degrees — an MBA and a Master’s of Science in Global Leadership — on the campus of the University of San Diego. Graduates of the MBA Double Degree program at CETYS Universidad, a not-for-profit higher education institution in Baja California, Mexico, received their degrees at the location of the program’s other half, the Knauss School of Business; others are choosing to graduate at CETYS’ Mexicali and Tijuana locations in June.

Rebeca B. Sánchez, dual-degree coordinator and CETYS professor, says having the option to choose where to officially graduate exemplifies the spirit of the program, which was launched to provide a “cross-border experience” and opportunity for people on both sides to better understand each other, both socially and professionally.


When developing the program, Sánchez tells Poets&Quants, border relations were at the forefront of their minds. Both CETYS campuses are in Baja California, the Mexican peninsula just south of the American state of California, where Tijuana is the largest city and Mexicali is the capital. Those unfamiliar with the region might not know that many in the area already have a bi-national mentality: Sánchez says it’s not uncommon to live in the U.S. but work in Mexico, and vice versa.

With the two countries in such close proximity, the CETYS program is trying to provide the resources to capitalize on that intersectionality from a business mindset.

CETYS was founded in 1961. The MBA Double Degree is two-year program that consists of 16 courses costing around $35,000 per year. One course in the program orchestrates an optional, week-long international trip that is not included in the total cost, where Spain, Italy, England and Japan round out the list of past-years’ excursions. Prospective students can choose between six concentrations: Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Upper Management, Finance, Human Resources, and Finance Supply Chain.

All of the classes are taught at CETYS’ campus locations in either Tijuana or Mexicali – whichever location is up for the student to pick. However, the program’s capstone course requires MBAs to present their final projects on the University of San Diego’s campus. USD professors travel to teach classes in person, but students also have the option to attend courses online. The program is meant for anyone – whether they have a business background or not – from any country, but its geared toward working professionals. Sánchez says in total the degree is meant to be flexible with about 50% of  material taught online and 50% given in-person.

“Besides the flexibility, the courses are taught at night, from about 6 p.m. to 9 or 10 p.m., because I would say about 95% of the students work,” she says.


Graduate Jonathan Dávila at the ceremony May 27 at the University of San Diego. Program Director Rebeca B. Sánchez says networking is a strong quality of the double-degree program. Courtesy photo

The degree is offered completely in English, and for students looking to apply they must first enroll in and accomplish a semester at CETYS (which stands for Center for Technical and Higher Education) before enrolling in the dual program with USD. Applications to the university are accepted every semester, and for more on further requirements visit the website here.

What’s the benefit of having degrees from different places? Sanchez says it’s really about culminating a global perspective in not just business practices but among different culture. She says there’s a real opportunity for students broaden their networking base.

“It has been tremendously helpful for the students. They get to know each other, work with each other in teams, make presentations, do assignments together… even [taking] the international trips that they have within in this double degree,” she says.

Offering multiple points of view is exactly what the program it about, she says. Much of the cohorts have been students from varied backgrounds, with experience across all kinds of professional fields including law, economics, and engineering.

Both schools are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and share similar mindsets, Sánchez says, and both are private universities. CETYS offers even more plurality in programming, in a triple-MBA degree offered through a collaboration among schools in Austria and Taiwan in an 18-month program.

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