Univ. begins joint degree program

Yale will offer a joint M.B.A. and Ph.D. degree beginning next year, University officials announced this month.

The program, which is being sponsored by the Graduate School and the School of Management, will allow students to obtain both degrees in seven years. It normally takes students two years to earn an M.B.A. and six years to earn a Ph.D.

“It will be low-key and informal, but it will be there for the special situation that merits it,” SOM Deputy Dean Stan Garstka said. “We have no agenda here to make a big statement that we’re all of a sudden going to take in Ph.D.’s, but for the few people where this is really a good fit, we will accommodate them.”

Graduate School Dean Jon Butler said he thinks the new program will be especially useful for graduate students in the sciences.

“This is important particularly in the sciences because scientists run large laboratories or work in large projects in corporations,” Butler said. “It gives them the obvious advantage of being able to move right into any kind of position that would require management training.”

Some science graduate students who attend business school after obtaining a Ph.D. are not fully prepared for careers in the sciences because they are not up to date on scientific developments after they graduate from business school, Garstka said. Garstka said he hopes the new program will address this problem, though he said he does not think it will appeal to many students because most Ph.D. candidates aspire to research or teaching positions.

Graduate students in the humanities and social sciences have showed a surprising degree of interest so far, Butler said.

“For someone interested in art history, for example, it gives them business training,” he said. “If they wanted to prepare for a career in galleries or a museum, it would give them a tremendous advantage.”

The idea for the joint degree originated with Yale graduate students who felt they benefited from a series of seven talks given by the SOM faculty about the business aspects of various academic fields, Butler said.

Graduate students who are interested in the program apply directly to the SOM and are considered for admission like other M.B.A. applicants, but they must first receive an endorsement from their departments. Although no students applied for the joint program by the SOM’s first Oct. 26 deadline, SOM Admissions Director Anne Coyle said she expects the program will receive applications by the second deadline on Jan. 11.

“Whenever a new program starts off, it takes a few years before the word gets out, so I think it remains to be seen how strong the interest level is,” Coyle said. “There was a period of time when Wall Street was eager to hire people with Ph.D.’s in physics to do derivatives. That was critical at that time, and I don’t know what the next wave will be.”

Coyle said she is confident that the graduate students who decide to pursue the joint program will succeed in SOM classes.

“Ph.D. candidates in the sciences whose first-year curriculum tends to be heavy on the quantitative side will find that our first year curriculum is similarly heavily quantitative,” she said. “If they’re doing well, we have a high degree of confidence they would do well at the School of Management.”

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