The New Face of the MS Degree


Well, as all of you are (hopefully) aware, about two weeks ago, the administration announced changes to yet another program here at Thunderbird–the MS in Global Finance and MS in Global Marketing programs. Riding the coattails of the MBA changes, we should have known this was coming. In Rebecca Henriksen’s email sent to the student body on February 19th (and an addendum from Dr. Fong a few days later), they both outlined that the program changes would include a shorter total credit hours for the degree noting trends in the graduate masters degree markets as well as a sizable change in they way that the programs will deal with internships.

The striking change to these programs will be the fact that it will take students 34 credits of full-time study to complete the degree. This is a sizable change from the 45-51 credits our current MS students are taking. In the Town Hall (MS Revisions slides), led by Dr. Fong on February 26th, he noted the reason for this change was to align our program with other notable Masters programs from Columbia, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt, among others. Our current program was one that actually had one of the highest credit hours needed to graduate.

The timeline of the program will be another major change in the program. The current MS-Fin and MS-Mkt programs enroll in Fall and last four trimesters with one summer trimester dedicated to an internship. Under this new program, students will enroll in the Fall and graduate in May. Gone are the days of the traditional internships for these students. Instead, these students will be pursuing a Winterim focused in their areas designed to mimic a TEM Lab in which they will have hands on internship roles over the course of approximately six weeks. This will allow the students to be fully immersed in finance or marketing work with outside partner companies.

The change in program timeline was mostly to cater to the May company recruiting schedules, notes Guy Groff. Many of the December grades are immensely shorthanded as most companies are not on their normal recruiting schedules during this time. The students are faulted for doing nothing. This will allow the MS-Fin and MS-Mkt students to align with the MBAs on graduation schedules.

Courtesy: Michael Reardon

The two programs will be much more highly focused in the finance and marketing areas with a decrease in the amount of cross-functional courses than they had before. Careful analysis of the programs led to the discovery that the MS-Global Management and the MS-Fin and MS-Mkt programs were too similar. The finance and marketing degrees needed to position themselves away from the global management degree. Another added benefit will be the option for concentration within the two programs, which the MS-GM degree doesn’t currently allow. MS-Fin students will now be able to concentrate in either Corporate Finance, Financial Consulting and Entrepreneurship, or Investments and Portfolio Management. MS-Mkt students may concentrate in wither Brand Management, Business Development and Sales, or Marketing Research and Analytics.

Overall, these programs seemed, to me, the result of some careful analysis and feedback of, not only other top business school programs, but also of student feedback. I can say that I often wondered what the value was between the MS-GM, MS-Fin, and MS-Mkt degrees while I was pursuing my MS-GM degree. Under my degree, I could just as easy ‘create’ a finance or marketing degree by taking electives in those areas. Now, the programs have developed their own essence–a pièce de résistance if you will. One cool thing, not only will you be able to matriculate from the MS degrees to the MBA program now (as yours truly has done), but you may now matriculate the other way. Should an MBA finish their degree and hope to hone their degree by coupling in with a finance or marketing degree, they may now continue on to receive their MS in that area.

I’d have to say the administration was spot on with regard to some of these changes. If you disagree, comment below! I’d love to hear your take on it.


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