Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business is making changes to its graduate business education programs to focus on opportunities for growth in its part-time MBA and specialized master’s degree offerings.

The college announced Tuesday that to better focus on those opportunities, the full-time MBA program will be phased out, subject to a presentation on Sept. 6, 2017, before the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. The move will allow the college to introduce several specialized master’s programs over the next three years while also increasing investments in Iowa MBA programs that serve working professionals—programs like the Professional MBA and the Executive MBA.

“Adapting to the market is key for growth in any organization, and we’re seeing clear shifts in what students and businesses need,” says Sarah Gardial, dean of the Tippie College of Business. “Both are expressing preferences for non-career-disrupting options for the MBA, while others are increasingly drawn to the focused education provided by master’s programs in specific subjects.”

One such specialized program launched three years ago already is paying dividends. Tippie introduced a Master of Science in Business Analytics degree in Cedar Rapids in 2014 and has quickly expanded it to Des Moines and the Quad Cities. Graduate enrollment in this program has grown 517 percent in less than three years, and courses such as Data Science and Big Data Management prepare the state’s workforce for the data economy. Due to the popular demand and increasing interest in this program, Tippie intends to add a three-semester degree option.

The college also will introduce a master’s program in finance in fall 2018 that builds on its worldwide reputation in the field. This new program emphasizes real-world experiences, including a student-managed equity portfolio and consulting projects for business clients. Also under development is a student-managed fixed-income fund—the first of its kind in any master of finance program.

Tippie is experiencing shifts in demand in its Iowa MBA programs as well, where enrollment in the part-time Professional MBA and Executive MBA programs makes up more than 91 percent of all MBA enrollment. Tippie recently introduced professional certificates, invested in new off-campus locations, and expanded its online course offerings within its Professional MBA. The college anticipates the entire Professional MBA curriculum will be available online in the future.

Sue Curry, UI interim executive vice president and provost, says these bold moves by Tippie speak to the university’s willingness to look for opportunities where others see challenges.

“The college has always been an innovator, anticipating the business education that students and employers need to thrive in a changing economy,” Curry says.

The changes will have no impact on the college’s undergraduate program. The final cohort of full-time MBA students will graduate from Tippie in May 2019. With the decision to phase out its full-time program, Tippie joins business schools such as Wake Forest University and Virginia Tech, both of which recently ended their full-time MBA programs.

“We are extremely proud of our full-time MBA, its rankings, its faculty and staff, and the incredible successes of its alumni whom we have had the honor of supporting on their career journeys,” Gardial says. “They are a credit to the university, and we look forward to their full and continued engagement in the life of the institution moving forward. This move will continue to grow the value of the Tippie brand and the reputation of the Iowa MBA.”