Filling a Gap with Cornell’s New Tech MBA

In Tuesday’s post, we took a look at how the top business schools may not be preparing MBA students with the IT skills they’ll need to manage tomorrow’s companies. That won’t be the case with participants enrolled in a new one-year tech MBA program offered by Cornell University’s Johnson School which is designed to bridge the gap between management and tech skills.

According to the school, students enrolled in the MBA program at Cornell NYC Tech are immersed in New York City’s tech ecosystem, where they’ll continuously work on projects with global business and startup ventures. Participants complete course work in the foundational disciplines of business, with an emphasis on the skills and knowledge needed to create business value in the digital economy.

Courses will include design thinking, global venturing, leading innovation, big data opportunities, and managing technology disruptions, among others. “The goal is to produce leaders for the digital economy,” Doug Stayman, the associate dean of MBA programs at Johnson, tells Business Insider. Startups may not feel comfortable hiring the average MBA, fearing that his or her skills aren’t suited for the culture and work of their companies.

“Organizations desperately need people who are true leaders but also understand the business needs and the technical needs,” Stayman adds.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Cornell consulted with startups and tech companies such as LinkedIn Corp. and Deloitte Services LP for advice on what to teach. By asking employers about the skill sets they need but are having trouble finding, Stayman tells the WSJ the proposed curriculum will include courses on software development, and leadership instruction will have a special focus on persuasion.

Graduates  of the MBA at Cornell Tech aren’t meant to work exclusively for startups though. Stayman envisions the certification as a way to help the business-minded cross into tech, as well as give students an inroad to traditional management jobs.

Applicants to the program, which is expected to run in the low $90,000s, must hold a degree in science or technology, have three to five years of relevant work experience, and submit GRE or GMAT scores.

Soumitra Dutta, dean of Johnson, explained the degree this way when announcing it last summer: “We’re creating a program that addresses the fact that technology has changed the way business is done. It’s not about adding technology courses to an existing MBA, but about developing a new education and learning experience for business leaders in the digital economy.”


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