New Dean Speaks His Mind

David Schmittlein, former Wharton professor and recently appointed dean of MIT Sloan, shared with Financial Times this week a plethora of maverick views regarding management education. “The future of management education is not the future of the MBA,” Schmittlein tells FT, adding, “I would like to be the first North American school that gets this.”

MIT Sloan is one of the top U.S. business schools, offering a small undergraduate program as well as the full-time, one-year Sloan Fellows program aimed at experienced managers. Schmittlein believes there should be an appropriate program for managers at every point in their careers, noting in the article that “We will be driven by growth in the number of programs [we offer], not by a bigger MBA.”

In keeping with tradition across the pond, Sloan’s new dean intends to launch a one-year masters program in management for those who have just finished their undergraduate work. The school has already announced that it will launch a specialized masters degree in finance and more specialized masters may soon appear on the horizon.

Schmittlein tells FT he believes the MBA will form a critical tool for people in their late 20s who want to change careers. With this in mind, the school is reducing the core of the MBA–the first part of the program that all students study together–to a single semester. In doing so, Sloan will be able to offer more focused elective tracks to suit students’ individual needs. Reducing the MBA to a one-year program is not the solution, however, since Schmittlein says an MBA takes two years to earn because people want to accomplish a thoughtful career transition.

Prominent on Schmittlein’s agenda is boosting the school of management’s visibility and making sure the world knows what in particular is great about Sloan. Interdepartmental offerings, such as joint courses with engineering or medicine, is an important area in which MIT Sloan has excelled. “Our graduates are close to graduates from other departments,” Schmittlein tells FT. “The school needs to be relevant to them at different times.” The university’s much-copied MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, in which students from all departments work together on business ideas, is the most noteworthy example of this philosophy.

With about 100 faculty and 400 MBA students, MIT Sloan is less than half the size of Wharton or Harvard. The new dean expects the number of faculty and programs, though not the number of students on the full-time MBA program, to grow. “We’re just above being too small and we’re not close to being too big,” Schmittlein says.

Stay tuned for further examination of one-year vs. two-year programs on Friday.

To hear voices from the frontlines, check out the MIT Sloan student blogs, or Dean Schmittlein’s blog.

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