The Four-Plus-One Business Degree Gains Ground


Every few months it seems another top business school announces a new one-year master’s program geared at attracting the most recent crop of undergraduates to their doors. Seemingly overnight, these programs have become the darling of the management education world, with schools eager to tap into a new market of liberal arts students keen for an edge in today’s competitive job market.

The University of Michigan’s Ross School started a Master of Management this summer, and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management has been piloting a Master in Management Studies.

The latest player on the scene is Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, which announced this month a program that will allow students from the university’s College of Arts and Sciences to get one of seven online and two in-residence master’s degree options from the business school in what the school is dubbing the “4+1 Integrated Master’s Program.” It is one of the most extensive and ambitious undertaking by a business school in this fast growing market, allowing Indiana University students to get a master’s in business analytics, global supply chain management and finance, to name just a few of the nine degrees that will be offered.


Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Kelley School, said she believes the program will appeal to a wide swath of students with liberal arts backgrounds, many of whom come into Kelley these days with enough high school advanced placement credits that they often end up graduating a semester or two early.

“We firmly believe that everyone needs a dose of business,” Kesner said. “Parents still want that four-year experience for students and here is a way to make that happen for them so their child can walk away with both an undergraduate and MS degree.”

But getting English and anthropology majors ready for the corporate world is no easy task, given that many of these students have little to no background in business. To compensate, many of these programs, especially the masters in management ones, have a boot camp-like mentality, primping and polishing liberal arts graduates at a lightening speed so they are ready for the corporate world. Typically, these programs are structured so that students can complete them in a year or ten months directly after college, essentially tacking another year onto their college experience. Most have some form of an internship or in-class consulting projects, allowing students to get some real-world business experience they can then put on their resume.


The Kelley School’s announcement is just the tip of the iceberg, predicts Derrick Boone, the associate dean of the MA in Management program at Wake Forest University’s School of Business, one of the first schools to launch one of these programs back in 2006.

“I think we will see more of these types of program coming up because the average age of the GMAT has gone down and the MBA is a mature market,” Boone said. “These programs seem to be the sweet spot between the level of training that companies want new hire to have right after undergraduate and the amount of time student are willing to commit to building those skills.”

At Wake Forest, the MA in Management gives students a whirlwind immersion into business fundamentals, teaching them everything from the basics of finance and management to how to dress properly for business meetings and write a marketing plan. Students are expected to adhere to a business casual dress code on campus on Monday through Thursday, and must wear business professional clothes for guest lectures or networking events. The program has been so successful that the school is considering adding another master’s program to its roster, one that will focus on business analytics, Boone said.

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