The growth of the Tech Sector in USA and Europe has highlighted the charm of possessing both a technical education and an MBA, especially for Indian applicants with a strong mathematics and/or scientific background. There are a number of ways of combining one’s technical know how with a general management education, varying widely in timing and scope according to one’s dedication to a career in technology. While the top ranked MBA programs are assumed to offer the most innovative and responsive programs to new technological advances, this is not always the case. Much depends on how well the B-school can effectively leverage other resources, both within and outside the university, holistically. The most basic option for combining a technical education with an MBA is a dual degree program with the engineering department.
DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS WITH THE ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT
The most time-intensive and dedicated approach to obtaining a technical education is via a “dual degree” with the Engineering Department of the University. Keep in mind that many B-schools are actually part of a larger university that may include 30,000-50,000 people in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional school ranks, including those at the Engineering School. Smaller Asian B-schools that are not a part of a larger University such as IIM, obviously cannot offer this option. The most traditional dual degree programs within the “B-school Universe” have been the Business-Law Degree (MBA/JD), but the growth of the Technological Sector has meant a build-out of opportunities for students opting for a joint MBA/MSE (Master’s of Science in Engineering). In order to obtain the dual degree, students must apply, and be accepted to both departments and complete both programs in 20-36 months. Obviously, in order to get accepted to the Engineering Department, the candidate must already possess a strong background in Mathematics and Science, but work experience in Engineering isn’t necessary.
Not all of these joint degree programs are created uniformly. While approximately half of the “Top 20 US Business Schools” offer a specific joint MBA/MSE degree, the length of the program depends to a large extent on how well the Engineering curriculum and Business School curriculum are integrated. For instance, some B-Schools will take into account credits of courses taken outside the Business School, in essence, “double-counting” these courses, while others do not. An Operations Management class taken at the B-school would more likely be credited than a class on Organizational Behavior. Consider that Columbia University offers a joint MBA/MSE in 21 months; MIT Sloan offers a joint MBA/MSE in 24 months; University of Michigan offers a joint MBA/MSE in 30 months; and Dartmouth Amos Tuck requires a minimum of 36 months to complete the MBA/Master’s in Engineering. Of course, there are also other options that are less time-intensive, such as the Master’s of Science (MS) in Management of Technology, which is a 12-month degree program offered by MIT Sloan. Note that even though this program is offered by a business school and includes the word “management,” graduates receive an MS degree, not an MBA.
In essence, Dual Degree Programs offer tremendous opportunities and exposure for students who are dedicated and can follow a rigorous academic curriculum. These programs will give the students the ultimate push they need to shine brightly throughout their career in a management role in a Tech Company. The strong management skills with the much required technical education as a backbone will give the candidate an edge over the others.
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