October 5, 2009 12:02 am

Finishing touches

Boats in a harbour

Given the proliferation of graduate business degrees, it would be easy to think that there was already something for everyone.

But what about those arts and science graduates who are looking to acquire business skills but lack the relevant experience? Traditional MBA programmes rarely cater for them, which is why the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver launched their masters of management programme last year.

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IN Masters in Management

The programme, at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, offers an introduction to core business knowledge — from marketing and human resources to corporate structure and financial terminology. While the institution calls it an early career masters, some view the programme as a type of finishing school.

Callum Ng was nearing the end of his undergraduate philosophy degree at UBC and was considering graduate studies in philosophy or creative writing. But, he says, he chose the masters of management programme because he hoped it would help him shape some of his own business ideas. Now, he is setting up a marketing and advertising company.

The schedule is intense. Students take five courses per five-week cycle, with a week’s break between each. The first group completed the programme in eight months but the school is giving future students 9-12 months to better balance the workload. Unlike the MBA, subjects are taught individually, and brought together when students are asked to devise a solution to a question suggested by a chief executive.

Surveys by UBC showed that employers want new hires to be trained in more than just their core function, be that an engineer who can grasp marketing or an arts graduate who can put together a business plan. Complete job figures have yet to come in, but according to Wendy Ma, UBC’s assistant dean and director of MBA programmes, the first graduates have already found jobs in business sectors, joined management trainee programmes or started their own businesses. The masters of management model comes from Europe, where it is more common to incorporate a year of graduate study at the end of an undergraduate degree.

While only 8 per cent of UBC’s first masters of management class were international students, it hopes admissions will match those of the university’s MBA programme, where more than half are from overseas.

www.sauder.ubc.ca

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