Hot business school studies offer international edge
By Marilyn Bowden
Popular courses in local business schools vary, tending to reflect the culture of the school itself, but in general, representatives say, anything that will give graduates an edge in the field international commerce is very hot right now.
The demand for graduate business degrees runs inverse to the business cycle, said J. Antonio Villamil, dean and research professor of economics at St. Thomas University's School of Business.
"Enrollment in our MBA program is at 100," he said, "which is high for us."
Because all business is global today, anything that advances that is very popular, said Anuj Mehrotra, vice dean of Graduate Business Programs at UM's School of Business Administration.
"Our Center for International Business Education & Research draws significant interest as well," he said.
The center, known by its acronym CIBER, is one of 33 created by Congress that connects the manpower and technological needs of the US business community with the international education, language training and research capacities of universities across the country.
"There's also growing interest in international study trips," Dr. Mehrotra said. "After polling our students, we find they have an interest in going to China, Spain, Israel, Germany and Peru. We are also planning for India.
"There is some interest in exchange programs as well with partners in Funan, Madrid, Barcelona and Tel Aviv. It has always been popular with undergraduates, and now it's increasing popular with MBA students.
"Even in our global MBA program, we organize a trip to Spain, and now as part of the curriculum they have to take a two-week course taught in another part of the world."
At Johnson & Wales University, the fastest-growing
concentration in the business management degree program is international business, said Leilani Baumanis, a professor in the College of Business.
"Its growth potential is exponential," she said.
Dr. Baumanis attributed its popularity to the prominent role international business plays in the local economy.
"Miami International Airport is our No. 1 economic driver," she said, "and Port of Miami is No. 2."
After the dredging and expansion of the port, she said, there will be a need for more manpower to support it — especially if the port does get an anticipated boost in business from the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Second in generating interest within the business management school, said Dr. Baumanis, is human resources — a field expected to grow in demand over the next few years.
In addition, she said, Johnson & Wales' new criminal justice program is booming, possibly helped by the popularity of the television show CSI Miami.
"A second program that is really hot is fashion merchandising management," Dr. Baumanis said.
Ties with industry have helped students get into the workforce, she said. "For example, two of our graduates with a concentration in international business have internships with Perry Ellis International, and probably will work there for a year afterwards."
At UM, Dr. Mehrotra said, healthcare management courses continue to excite interest. "Our executive MBA in healthcare has shown an increase of almost 50% increase from four years ago," he said, "and our joint MD-MBA program is also very popular."
Entrepreneurship, always a popular area of concentration among full-time MBA students, is now gaining ground as an elective in the part-time executive MBA program as well, Dr. Mehrotra said.
"If you want to get a job, major in accounting," Mr. Villamil said. Earning an MA in accounting is very hot at St. Thomas, he said. In general, "what we are finding out is that graduate school is where the strength is. People are finding out they need a higher-education degree and are coming back to school.
"Many employers are saying they are not hiring BAs, only MBAs. It's becoming important to get a foot in the door at a major or even mid-sized company."
General business degrees are becoming less popular as students look for specialization at both undergraduate and graduate levels, Mr. Villamil said — and specialization is one of St. Thomas's strengths.
For example, he said, "a combination JD and MBA program that can be finished in three years is very popular. A lot of people use their JD to enter into small business or corporations. If they go into a law practice, with an MBA it's easy to become a managing partner."
Other specialized programs that continue to fare well, Mr. Villamil said, are entrepreneurship and sports administration.
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