Olin introduces STEM option for full-time MBA

A breathtaking run of upgrades and enhancements to the WashU Olin Business School full-time MBA program has seen the addition of a six-week, overseas global immersion, a dual-degree option with a specialized masters and an accelerated, 14-month option for the MBA degree.

Now, Olin takes another step forward by adding the option to earn a STEM-designated MBA. The STEM MBA option was approved on April 21. It covers MBA alumni retroactively to the class of 2019, all current students and students going forward.

The designation refers to the level of proficiency a degree offers students in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering or mathematics—and the application of those disciplines in a business context.

Vidur Bhatnagar

“Having a stem designation is increasingly being preferred by many employers especially in the tech industry,” said Vidur Bhatnagar, MBA ’21, who is excited to add this option to his MBA. “This opens up more opportunities for WashU students and will definitely increase engagement and interest of employers towards hiring internationals.”

Aparna Kancherla

Dr. Aparna Kancherla, MBA ’21, said she had considered other business schools that already had a STEM MBA option, but chose WashU Olin because of its rigorous academics, strong rankings and global immersion experience.

“We are already studying subjects like data analytics,” she said. “Now having the STEM option will help me to get recognized as a professional who uses the data-driven approach to develop strategies.”

Further affirmation for WashU Olin’s rigor

For WashU Olin, the STEM designation aligns fully with the values-based, data-driven mindset that is a core pillar of the school’s strategy for developing students.

“This designation formally acknowledges the WashU MBA as a rigorous program, driving students to apply a data-driven mindset to business decisions,” said Olin Dean Mark P. Taylor. “Even more, they use that mindset in the context of their personal, organizational and community values.”

Jennifer Whitten, associate dean and director of Olin’s Weston Career Center, said the new option will be attractive to students destined for high-tech industries.

“The advantage is, and there’s even GMAC data about this, many of the jobs out there now require a data skillset,” she said. “They want people who have the quantitative background as well as the leadership skills.”

For international students, the STEM-designated MBA also creates employment options in the United States because they can apply for a 24-month visa extension for optional practical training. 

Mostly covered in the core curriculum

Olin leadership applied for the STEM designation after an analysis of 152 existing courses showed that at least 70% of them rated highly as “data-driven” entries into the curriculum. Curriculum leaders have designated 79 core and elective courses that would satisfy requirements toward a STEM-designated degree. Those include courses such as Quantitative Risk Management, Economics of the Organization and Pricing Strategies.

At least half of a student’s required 67 credits—33.5 credits or more—would have to come from that group of 79 courses in order to earn the STEM MBA. As it turns out, the required classes in the full-time MBA program add up to 28.5 credits worth of STEM-designated coursework.

Even with that, WashU Olin leadership intentionally decided to make the STEM designation an option for students, rather than a requirement. Some students may see themselves heading for careers in the humanities or a nonprofit, where the need to “heavy up” on data may not be as important.

WashU Olin had previously secured STEM-designation for its specialized master’s degrees in supply chain management, quantitative finance, wealth asset management and business analytics—which includes six tracks: customer analytics, financial technology analytics, healthcare analytics, accounting analytics, talent analytics and supply chain analytics.

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