The MBA and Beyond

San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, Sept. 4th, 2007

The MBA And Beyond Graduate study programs meet broader student needs ranging from real estate to international business with plenty in between

By Liz Swain

Don't jump into an MBA curriculum without first researching areas of study more applicable to your career goals, advises USD's Kurt Gering. (photo/

The traditional MBA is the most popular graduate business degree, but it's not the only degree option for people seeking career advancement. The executive MBA (EMBA) is designed for managers and executives. Some business schools require a specific amount of management experience to join an EMBA program, although most are not industry specific. Some master's degrees are focused, with specializations such as human resources, accountancy, real estate and biotech. These offerings may reflect a region's industries and employment trends. At times, the criteria include holding a current passport.

With degree choices that include a doctorate in business administration, how does a businessperson chart the best educational plan?

"It's really important to evaluate programs," advises Kurt Gering, director of USD's master of executive leadership program. Logistics such as scheduling are important. So are career goals. Is the objective to rise to the top in a field like supply chain management or branch into other areas?

"Obviously, the MBA is the traditional route," Gering says.  However, with the incredible shift in the marketplace, a more specialized degree could be beneficial, he notes. In addition to specialized coursework, there's the benefit of classmates with similar experiences and challenges.

USD's graduate business programs include the MBA, international master of business administration (IMBA), accountancy and financial management, executive leadership, global leadership, real estate, supply chain management and taxation. Programs can be combined for dual degrees.

Gering says enrollment in the different programs is pretty even with classes of 20 to 25 students. The university maintains the class size by scheduling more start times for programs like the global, executive and accountancy degrees.

UCSD's Rady School of Management has the Flex MBA for working professionals and a full-time MBA.  Rady's emphasis on science and technology is reflected in the school's program tracks: communications, information technology and life and health sciences. "The focus is on innovation and reaching the marketplace," says JoAnne Starr, assistant dean of MBA programs.

"Applications for SDSU's MBA program for this fall are up 15 percent," says David Ely, associate dean for the business school's graduate division. Increases were also seen in applications for the MS in business and graduate accountancy programs.

Ely says the rise in grad school applications is part of a campuswide trend at SDSU. The largest increase has been in MBA applications. Last year, there were 85 to 90 new MBA students. SDSU expanded the number of cohorts and expects 50 more students this year.

Ely says he doesn't know what sparked the interest in graduate business education, but surmises that with the tepid economy, people may have decided to return to school.

SDSU's Karen Courtney oversees the school's successful EMBA and sports MBA degree programs, which are beginning their 18th and fourth classes, respectively, this year. (photo/ SDSU's graduate business programs include the EMBA and sports MBA. "The business school is currently recruiting its 18th EMBA class, and the fourth sports MBA cohort begins in January 2008," says Karen Courtney, director of executive and specialized programs.

Keller Graduate School of Management offers the MBA and graduate degrees in accounting and financial management, human resource management, public administration, project management, information systems management and network and communications management. "The MBA is the most popular degree followed by the accounting and financial management degree with the CPA emphasis," says Madeleine Gervais, San Diego dean.

Chapman University has graduate degrees in human resources and organizational leadership.

National University's graduate business degrees include the MBA, MA in human resource management, MA in management and MS in organizational leadership. "Registration in the HR degree during the 2006-2007 school year is 42 percent higher than the previous year," says Wali Mondal, interim dean of the School of Business and Management. During that time, MA management registration grew 18 percent and increased 14 percent for the organizational leadership degree.

"I believe there are two reasons why our HR program did well," says Mondal. "We revised the program last year. Secondly, many students were already working in HR positions with a bachelor's degree. They enrolled in the master's program to advance in their career. I think the same reasoning applies to other programs."

Wali Mondal, interim dean of National University's School of Business and Management, saw enrollment for NU's human resource management MA jump 42 percent last year. (photo/

National's graduate business curricula consist of core courses and electives. Students may use electives for an area of specialization (AOS), which generally consists of four courses. The AOS for the HR degree are organizational development and change management, and organizational leadership. For the MA in management, organizational leadership is an AOS.

At Alliant International University's San Diego campus, the MBA and international MBA are offered through the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management. The university also has a doctor of business administration program. "Some say the DBA is the MBA of the future," says associate dean Fred Phillips. "The job market is saturated with MBAs, and new grads will want a credential that stands out. Many DBA programs cater to the needs of working professionals who attend grad school part-time. The DBA can prepare a professional for a research-oriented career, a management career in industry, government, and nonprofits (or) a career in academics."

USC began holding EMBA classes locally in August 2006. Instruction for the traditional MBA includes the international emphasis that is part of the university's mission, says Cherie Scricca, associate dean for the Marshall School of Business. Coursework for business students includes an educational trip to a Pacific Rim country. San Diego students in the first cohort will go to Shanghai, where USC has a campus. For Shanghai students, the university requirement brings a trip to Korea. While at their home campus, students study the economy of the country they'll visit. There are class projects. Representatives from host country businesses may give presentations.

University of Redlands offers an MBA and an MA in management. "The graduate management degree at Redlands and other universities is helpful for people promoted from a technical position to management," says Keith Roberts, business school associate dean.

"CSU San Marcos's MBA concentrates on general management," says Keith Butler, director of operations for the College of Business Administration. However, Butler says that more than 25 percent of coursework in the revised MBA program allows students to choose a focus. This fall, each course includes a one-unit project completed outside the classroom.

Point Loma Nazarene University also offers the traditional MBA. Students follow the general MBA track or branch into the finance or organizational management track, says Bruce Schooling, dean of the Fermanian School of Business. There's a quantitative core for all MBA students, with qualitative courses for the tracks.

Another advocate of the traditional MBA is Michael Reilly, chair of the College of Business at University of Phoenix in San Diego. Most (employers) look for people who can analyze trends and provide some commentary as well as make decisions. "That's what's in the bread-and-butter MBA," he says.

Although that perspective is reflected in Phoenix's MBA, the university in October will provide some choices within the required 11 core courses. While all students take a finance course, some may take one with an industry orientation like hospital accounting. If the student completes five industry-oriented courses, this is designated as an emphasis on the transcript.

Phoenix has an online EMBA, and the university this fall launches a graduate accountancy program. The university will also offer graduate degrees in public administration and human resources.

SDSU has two new programs that will start in fall 2008 or in 2009. Students in the global entrepreneurship MBA program will attend classes at SDSU and in China, India and the Middle East. Also in the works is an EMBA in life sciences. SDSU's Courtney says the 22-week program could consist of online study and two week-long residency sessions at SDSU and locations including Washington, D.C.

UCSD is mulling a joint Ph.D./MBA degree that connects the university with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Starr says that students from Scripps will start the doctorate program. During the middle of those studies, they will go to Rady for the MBA.

As business school options continue to expand, Gering of USD reminds prospective students to shop around. Evaluate what you want.



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