For the first time in LMU history, the Master of Business Administration program will be introducing a significantly revised curriculum. To be enacted fall of 2015, the change will allow students to complete the program in just 24 months rather than giving students a maximum 5-year deadline to complete their degree.
Students currently in the MBA Program will continue with the old curriculum, but all incoming students will be enrolled in the new curriculum.
The two-calendar-year program will be split into two sections. The first year will be structured as a cohort, or core classes, and the second year will let students choose from a variety of courses so they can take electives and choose an emphasis.
The change also calls for adding an introductory orientation that will take place over two weekends, as well as skill workshops that will take place on select Saturdays.
An international component will also be required, allowing students to travel to places like Bonn, Germany, and countries in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. The tuition in total will cost $86,500.
According to Bill Semos, interim associate dean of the MBA Program and director of the European Union Study Program, the new plan was initiated as a result of the lack of positive publicity about the LMU MBA degree and steady decline in enrollment. Semos said, “It has been over 30 years since the last change to the program.”
David Stewart, co-chair of the committee and the president’s professor of marketing, then added that LMU’s program “needed to incorporate elements that were present in some of the competitors’ programs. Competitors were active in modifying and modernizing their programs, but LMU was not responsive to those things for a long time.”
To resolve this issue, Stewart headed an extensive research project by talking to prospective students and asking how LMU could improve the program. Utilizing the information gathered, they created the new program.
However, the changes made will not completely replace the current program. The program will be keeping many of the benefits that set LMU apart from competitors, such as keeping small class sizes that give students access to individual attention from faculty and staff.
The program will also embody the Jesuit philosophy of the education of the whole person.
“We’re not just trying to train a manager,” said Stewart. “The idea here is to not only get management skills and knowledge but also a perspective of contributing to the larger society of understanding the need for personal growth and strong grounding in ethical decision-making.”
The restructuring of classes in time and content will allow for the creation of a better sense of community. The cohort will be organized so that students will take the same classes with the same people for their first academic year.
The Saturday workshops “will focus in developing what they call in business, soft skills, which are things like written communication, verbal communication, ethical reasoning and various leadership skills,” said Stewart. “More time will be focused on career development and planning, which many competing schools do not provide.”
The new study abroad requirement will also give students a better perspective on what it means to work in a globalized industry. “It’s not just enough to require that students to take a course in international business,” said Stewart. “Students need to get on the ground in another country to see how business is done. These are not tourist types of trips. We’ll take students, and they’ll talk to business people, we’ll bring government officials in, we’ll tour plants, there will be a project of some kind that will have a global dimension to it.”
Semos also said the new program will “increase the marketability and value proposition of the program.”
According to LMU’s MBA its website, the program was ranked number six in the country, number three in the west and number two in Los Angeles by the 2013 Bloomberg Businessweek — and the rankings will only rise as the program changes.
Natalie Drdek, communications manager of the College of Business Administration, said, “The new program will offer a more well-rounded MBA experience by incorporating skills that are most in-demand in the workforce such as team building, leadership, communications and international proficiency.”
The MBA program is not exclusive to business undergraduates. “They don’t have to come from an undergraduate business major; in fact, we almost prefer you not be. Be broad. Get some breadth. Learn something about the world,” said Stewart.