Let me turn that question around — How will business education help me in my career? I started this post while sitting at a powerful conference hosted by UCLA for leaders of part-time MBA programs. While the title of the conference is focused on part-time MBA degrees, the discussion was much broader. Topics included one year Master of Science degrees, certificates, partnerships for company specific programs, and more. Our discussion shouldn’t be about an MBA, or which major to have as an undergraduate, but rather how we can best create a mosaic of education.
No Silver Bullet
There is no silver bullet — that is, whether you’re talking about a degree or a new piece of software, no single human, organizational, or technological shift will have the same impact as a more coordinated, cross-dimensional, approach. A mosaic metaphor acknowledges the many beautiful ways an education can be designed.
Students, schools, and employers are all coming to grips with how experience, non-business undergraduate degrees, just-in-time learning (often online from less formal providers), certificates, specialized master’s of science degrees, and full-on MBA degrees fit together, and how they fit together over time. In this figure, I’ve drawn one version of what this might look like. You may see that it starts with an upside-down version of a “T-shaped” education.
Mosaic of Education
As an associate dean of Santa Clara University’s business school, I like to talk about “the right education at the right time,” as I layout this idea of a mosaic of education. Career trajectories are no longer a case of lining up an undergraduate degree, working for a bit, completing a graduate degree along the same trajectory, and sailing off on a single tack. Modern careers are about change. Many of the jobs our students will have yet to be invented. We need to support education on learning to learn, learning to predict change, and managing change. We also need to work with organizations to better evaluate needs and skills when even the “permanent” workforce is transient.
We offer the tools to create this mosaic. We are developing a “4+1” program where our undergraduates can start working on their Master of Science degree while finishing their undergraduate degree (even if that undergraduate degree isn’t from the business school). We have a variety of one year Masters of Science degrees (Finance, Business Analytics, Supply Chain Management), and are considering more. Our Executive Development Center offers company specific and industry specific short courses.
Imagine a world where a student begins their education at the undergraduate level, but with more flexibility in their area of study. At the end of a fifth year they may have studied abroad, completed several internships, and gone deep with a specialized Masters of Science. We don’t lose track of those students as they graduate. Instead we keep them enrolled. Not in a formal degree program, but in a career development program. As appropriate, perhaps by watching their LinkedIn accounts, we reach out with suggestions for educational programs, ours or other’s. Maybe we go the other way; we stay in touch with the employers and trigger suggestions for programs to offer on their campus, ours, or online.
Some students may end up with multiple Master of Science degrees. The MS in Business Analytics of today may lead to an MS in Human/Artificial Intelligence Organizations. Down the road, following more of the short-term updates noted above, they may be ready to take advantage of the integration offered by an MBA degree.
Something to think about for the new year: preparing people for this environment needs to start in high school, with both students and parents. How can we do this? Please click on, Comment, below to share your thoughts.