New STEM-MBA program answers industry demands


February 20, 2015

In the ever-changing science and technology marketplace, employers are looking for candidates who can provide more than just specialized expertise – they want employees with both technical skills and practical business and management experience.

Marquette Business saw an opportunity in those needs, and worked with science, technology and mathematics programs across the university to develop a new STEM-MBA program. The five-year program is one of only a few nationwide and will provide students with an undergraduate degree in their chosen major and college and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Graduate School of Management.

“We’re always looking for ways to respond to employer needs, and we’ve seen a number of people coming to the MBA program with science backgrounds,” says Dr. Jeanne Simmons, associate dean of the Graduate School of Management. “We have world-class programs in arts and sciences, business and health sciences. It was natural to pair these programs together to better address the needs of our students and the marketplace.”

Under the new STEM-MBA program, undergraduates will begin graduate-level coursework toward the MBA in their senior year. In the event that students decide not to complete the fifth year and earn their MBA, the program is structured so that they may still achieve a minor in business administration.

According to Michelle Schuh, assistant dean of the College of Health Sciences, students have been increasingly interested in a hybrid program like the STEM-MBA.

“Each year, we have more and more students interested in the business and industry aspect of healthcare,” Schuh says. “Other than pursuing a business minor, we offered few opportunities for these students. Now, the STEM-MBA lets us offer those opportunities.”

Schuh outlines a number of advantages for health sciences students who wish to pursue the STEM-MBA.

First is determining the right fit. By taking MBA coursework as an undergraduate, students can make sure that is the correct path for their graduate studies.

Next is the fact that the STEM-MBA is a discipline-specific application. The accelerated track allows for the development of discipline-specific coursework and field experience that ties in with the student’s major field of study.

Cost savings is another advantage. Undergraduate students pay a flat amount of tuition once full-time status – 12 credits or more – is reached, and graduate students pay per credit. By completing up to 12 credits toward the MBA in their undergraduate career, students save 12 credits of graduate student tuition.
Finally, the time saved in the program is substantial. Students complete their graduate degree at an accelerated pace, which also places them in the work force and earning a paycheck sooner.

The STEM-MBA program also leverages existing university resources, making it cost-effective for all of the colleges involved.

“The college programs and the MBA are currently in place, so no new resources are needed,” Simmons says. “We’re offering existing courses packaged in a way that will benefit the students, the employers and the university. It’s truly a win-win.”

The STEM-MBA will be available beginning in the fall 2015 semester. In order to be considered, students need to note their interest in the program when applying to Marquette, and must formally apply to the Graduate School of management during their junior year.

“There are a number of prerequisites that students need to complete before they are able to enroll in the MBA coursework,” Schuh says. “Awareness on the student’s part, as well as talking with their advisors about a plan for the program, will be very important.”