This article is sponsored by University of Delaware and was reviewed before publication.
For MBA candidate Dipti Dighe, the rigorous curriculum and internship opportunities with companies such as JP Morgan and Sallie Mae drew her to University of Delaware’s Lerner College of Business and Economics. But it was an on-campus event that sealed the deal.
“I attended an open house and got to talk with all of the professors in the program for a long time,” she said. “They were sincerely eager to know about me. That’s when I knew this was my school.”
A software developer for almost a decade, Dighe wanted to shift gears towards the business management side of the industry, putting her aptitude for analytics front and center. Getting a taste of the professors’ practical experience convinced her Lerner could help get her there.
The school’s senior associate dean for academic programs and professor of management information systems, Jack Baroudi, worked in the technology industry for 10 years prior to teaching.
“When you have both academic and practical experience, it enriches what you bring to the classroom; how you approach teaching, present material and lead projects,” Baroudi said. “Most of our faculty brings that more robust experience into their classrooms.”
The value of real-world skill building became even clearer when Baroudi outlined the most common reasons people choose to go back to school for an MBA.
“Many students are coming from industry into grad school,” he said. “They come to us from an existing organization where they want to accelerate their career or move into new roles. Others are looking to move to a new firm or to change careers from engineering to management. We coach the students, then let them make the decision that’s best for them.”
To help guide students, Lerner has an active career counseling program, as well as a very large executive mentorship program — about 200 execs who have 10 to 20 years experience under their belt.
“The students have many opportunities in front of them when they graduate from Lerner,” said Baroudi.
Perhaps the biggest feature that sets Lerner’s MBA program apart is the ability for students to tailor their studies. Every student takes 29 core credits which build the foundation of their business education. Then, they can choose a major (15 credits) — as Dighe has done with business analytics — or chose one (or two, for the ambitious) of a number of concentrations (nine credits) from accounting to strategic leadership. The deep dive into a major or concentration gives students a richer, more focused understanding of their chosen specialty.
Further customization includes the ability to take graduate classes outside of the business school — statistics is a popular one — and to attend classes either on campus, online or a hybrid of both.
Leading the strategic direction of the business analytics major is Adam Fleischhacker, associate professor of operations management. His priority, he said, is to build a modern program that prepares students to participate in new and growing areas of the industry, as well as to become leaders who understand people as much as they do data.
“Your understanding of business and technology can’t be separate from your ability to communicate with all of the different types of people in your organization,” said Fleischhacker. “The most effective MBAs in analytics are the ones who bring the real world to the computational world and then bring computational insights back to the real world to effect change.”
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