Farmer School adding two graduate programs

The landscape of business is constantly changing, and the need for graduate-level business education is changing as well. A CarringtonCrisp survey in 2018 found that for the first time since the survey began eight years prior, more students were considering a one-year business graduate program rather than a traditional two-year MBA program.

“Students aren't always willing to give up two years of potential earnings, but they are more willing to do that for one year to see the benefit on the other side in terms of increased starting salary, better opportunities, a bigger market for the skills that they'll have,” director of graduate programs Lindsey Holden explained.

Miami University and the Farmer School of Business continue to be ranked among the nation’s best schools for their commitment to undergraduate teaching. Part of the Farmer School’s commitment includes helping provide students with the opportunity to earn specialized graduate degrees tailored to help them fit the current market needs in business.

In 2020, the Farmer School is planning to double its graduate school options, adding a master’s of business analytics and a master’s of management to the existing accounting and economics advanced degrees. “The benefit of these types of programs is that they are going to give students the opportunity to continue to receive the support in the classroom from the faculty that Miami is known for, but also give them an advanced tool set that's going to allow them to be more competitive in the marketplace,” Holden said.

A Graduate Management Admission Council survey in 2018 found that nearly one in five students considering a business master’s degree were seeking one in data analytics. “There's a market for it. There's a huge dearth in the job market for analytics skills. And there are a lot of students who graduate from across campus who struggle to find employment at the level or compensation they desire,” Information Systems and Analytics department chair Skip Benamati explained.

“So we created a program that those students could step into for two extra semesters and leave further credentialed and enabled to not only be a psychologist or a biologist or a sports management executive or fashion designer, but they can also have strong data skills to apply in whatever discipline they choose,” Benamati said.

The new program has both the extra year option and the 3+1 option that allows students to complete their senior year and their graduate degree at the same time, similar to Economics and Accounting. “It's interesting that some of our ISA students are actually going to do it, students that are in our minor or our IS students who didn't get the double major, but now because they can leave with a master's in four years, they're doing it,” Benamati noted. “That may help keep more students here for longer. Students that can graduate early might instead stick around.”

The other graduate degree under development is meant to bring business skills to students who don't have a business degree – in response to employer demand for employees with these exact abilities. The proposed Master of Science in Management would be a one-year program with an embedded certificate in business management. While on the surface it may sound like an MBA program, Farmer School Associate Dean for Curriculum Barnali Gupta says the new program has a different audience. "It's positioned for a very different audience than the MBA program,” she explained. "It's a program that gets students' careers started."

Unlike MBA programs, the MS in Management is designed for students who have little or no work experience. "We want to make sure that students are either just out of school or out of school very recently," Gupta noted. "We want them to have the experience of being in school very recently, bring that experience into the classroom and then layer all of these other skills and knowledge upon it."

Gupta said the needed skill sets will be conveyed through three modules. "We've designed this program to deliver the core competencies in business in the preparation module, the hands-on experiential learning in the practice module, then actually execute with a real client in the execute module," she explained.

Gupta said the program will be "a first to market, certainly in our area and with our peers," and is designed initially to have 30 students per cohort. "The very attractive part of this program is it doesn't matter what your major is. We want to respond to market needs for students to have core business skill sets," Gupta said. "The program will include history majors, sociology majors, art and psychology majors, for example. We will leverage core critical thinking skills from the liberal arts foundation of our graduates and add value with a trifecta of essential business skills, business knowledge and hands-on experiential learning.”