U. of Md. alters its MBA offerings School adopts courses geared to technology


August 22, 1998|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Responding to a shift toward technology in the economy, the University of Maryland's graduate business school is adding concentrations such as electronic commerce to its traditional course work.

Starting Aug. 31, the 400 full-time MBA students at the Robert H. Smith School of Business in College Park will have the option of concentrating in business telecommunications; electronic commerce; global business and knowledge management; and logistics and supply chain management.

The additions come as the University of Maryland fights to get into the top tier of graduate business schools nationwide. Starting in January, the school will start a three-year, part-time MBA program in Baltimore as part of that effort.

The graduate school ranks in the top 50 nationwide in Business Week magazine's ranking. U.S. News & World Report puts Maryland in the 27th spot.

Explaining the new concentrations, Howard Frank, dean of the school, said business schools are going to have to keep adjusting their offerings to meet the needs of industries.

"No one knows what management organizations are going to look like in 2010," said Frank, who became dean about a year ago. "What we're trying to do with our concentrations is to build a way to adapt to organizational changes without throwing away the good stuff of the past generations."

By the good stuff, Frank means a list of core concentrations, including accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems, international business, management consulting, management science and marketing.

Frank said the additions are the outgrowth of his goal to lead the school into the 21st century, at a time when business and technology are inextricably tied together. "It's obvious that has happened," he said. "What's less obvious is what you do about it."

Frank said the school's faculty has been working on two tracks: revising the MBA curriculum and improving the preparation of students. During that process, the school consulted with HTC recruiters from companies such as Black & Decker Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp, he said.

Maryland found that it already had some of the courses that will constitute the new concentrations. "Some of it was a matter of repackaging," Frank said.

While introducing the new concentrations, the school is discouraging students from discarding the core concentrations. Ideally, Frank said, students will adopt a dual concentration approach, perhaps choosing marketing and electronic commerce.

Altering the course offerings is an endeavor that will continue for the next several years and cost about $1 million annually. "This goes deep to the heart and soul of what we're here for," Frank said.

In the late 1980s, Frank said, business schools altered their curricula every five or 10 years. He said the school might add a few concentrations next year and a few more the year after that.

Pub Date: 8/22/98

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