Since launching an online MBA program two years ago, Arizona State University continues to make headlines in the arena. The school’s online MBA program offers specializations in finance, international business, marketing or supply chain management.
Associate Professor Thomas Bates is chair of the finance department at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He is also a Dean’s Council of 100 Distinguished Scholar at the school, which has both undergraduate and MBA programs ranked Top 30 in the nation. Bates’ research centers on corporate finance, valuation, corporate governance, executive compensation, mergers and other related areas. According to Bates, full-time students graduating from the full-time program are finding success after graduation, as the program boasts a near 100% job placement within three months of graduation. Here’s a look at what the program does to create hirable MBAs:
Q: How has the finance field changed over the last 5-10 years? What do students need to know today that they didn’t a decade ago?
Bates: “The fundamental concepts of finance have not changed appreciably over the last decade; students still need to know the basics of risk and return. However, the financial markets have become increasingly complex for corporate financial managers and other market participants. One source of complexity has been the rapid internationalization of financial markets. A second is the increasing use of complex financial instruments. Both have led to greater counterparty risk and debatably greater volatility in financial markets. Students today spend a lot more class time understanding and quantifying these sources of risk, and thinking about how to eliminate or hedge unnecessary exposures in trading positions or a corporate balance sheet.”
Q: What is on the horizon that MBA students need to be ready for? How does a MBA education help prepare students for those changes?
Bates: “Every student needs to be able to adapt to changes in the economic or regulatory environment in a way that builds value for a client or organization. This means that MBA students need to work on building a strong skill set of broad business and analytical fundamentals. These fundamentals will also help the students adapt to changes in their employment options. Most career success requires individuals to utilize their abilities in managing others in their organization, as well as personally adapting to changes in their own job expectations and responsibility. In addition, students should work on building strong skill sets that are transferable across organizations. The MBA should provide a depth of analytical skills for the students, as well as provide an opportunity to hone their abilities as managers and leaders in organizations. At the W. P. Carey School of Business, we recently introduced a professional development and engagement program that infuses peer and leadership reviews throughout the entire online MBA program.”
Q: If a student was looking at a master’s in finance, and a MBA with a finance emphasis or concentration, what would your advice be?
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Bates: “A master’s in finance is a very different degree than the MBA. The MBA degree will give you a broad exposure to a set of management basics – finance, marketing, accounting, among others. This MBA core coursework, combined with a specialization in finance, allows the graduate to practice financial decision-making in a variety of settings, including corporations, investment banks, and other commercial and not-for-profit organizations.
“The master’s in finance degree is much different in that it typically provides students with more technical coursework dedicated to finance with prerequisite material limited to accounting and economics. Thus, the degree provides a broader and deeper exposure to material in finance, while providing no or limited exposure to topics in general management.
“The master’s in finance degree coursework is often more quantitative than that offered in the MBA, and graduates are typically employed in more complex analytical roles after graduation.”
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets