Students collaborating.

New MS in Management Program First of Its Kind in Upper Midwest

The Opus College of Business has announced a new Master of Science in Management (MSM), the first of its kind program in the Upper Midwest. Designed for current students and recent graduates from non-business disciplines, this 10-month hybrid program integrates students’ unique undergraduate interests with essential business and management knowledge, creating a pathway to accelerate their early careers.

With the inaugural cohort set to begin in fall 2024, students from liberal arts and STEM majors will have the opportunity to build on their disciplinary knowledge with foundational business expertise, making them even more valuable in today’s job market.

Building a bridge between specialized knowledge and business acumen

The new program was developed in response to the changing needs of today’s business world. More than ever, employers are seeking high-potential, entry-level job candidates who not only excel in their core disciplines but also have a grasp of business dynamics.

“Most companies don’t educate you on business terms and mechanics,” said a Twin Cities hiring manager. “Employees today need a knowledge of both technical skills for day-to-day work and an understanding of corporate strategy.”

A recent survey among St. Thomas non-business students revealed significant interest in the new program, citing greater opportunities for career prospects. A mechanical engineering student viewed it as a steppingstone for his future career at a medical device company, while a liberal arts student saw the opportunity to advance their management and leadership skills for higher postgraduate earnings.

Collaborative learning with real-world relevance

With a balanced mix of online and face-to-face classes, the MSM curriculum is structured to be both flexible and deeply engaging. Beyond theory, students will immerse themselves in realistic business simulations, real-world case studies and hands-on projects.

“This integrated curriculum was specifically designed with liberal arts and STEM students in mind. It provides a multidisciplinary set of courses that begins by teaching students foundational business concepts and progressively guides them toward practical business applications, emphasizing critical thinking, creative problem-solving and ethical business considerations,” said Julia Van Etten, MBA, academic lead, MS in Management.

Beginning in their senior year, students can start the program by enrolling in asynchronous online courses in business fundamentals. Students will gain a solid understanding of basic business operations and the terminology needed to communicate effectively in a business setting.

In one engaging simulation, for instance, students step into the shoes of a coffee shop owner, making critical decisions that affect profits, customer experiences, team morale, and employee well-being. With VR headsets, students plunge into the details of managing their virtual coffee shop, gaining insights through hands-on experimentation. Professors provide guidance, both before and after each simulation, ensuring students can directly apply their classroom knowledge in a real-time, gamified VR environment.

This immersive style of learning fosters skills like adaptability, creativity and collaboration - qualities sought after in the current job market. The overarching goal is to empower students with the skills needed to establish and operate a thriving and profitable business while making ethical and sustainable choices.

Following a weeklong business presence workshop in early September, students will dive into cohort-based core courses that underscore teamwork, inclusive leadership, and ethical and data-driven decision-making. The spring semester focuses on real-world applications, including a business consulting project for a local organization. To round out their education, students can choose from electives that align with their individual interests.

Complementing the academic journey, the MSM program ensures students are well prepared for the next steps in their careers, offering career workshops, coaching, and connections with alumni and industry professionals to build a strong support network. This facet ensures students are not just academically enriched but are also well prepared to successfully navigate the competitive job market.

“This pioneering program reflects the University of St. Thomas’ ongoing commitment to meeting the changing needs of our students and the companies that will hire them,” said Opus College of Business Dean Laura Dunham. “Students coming out of this program will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to follow their passions and make immediate impact in whatever field they choose to pursue.”

The program will begin recruiting this fall, with the first cohort starting in September 2024. Students in their senior undergraduate year can get a head start with online business fundamental courses available in spring or summer. The application is now open, with information sessions starting in October.