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2 for 1: Colleges eye combining tech, business degrees

More programs are combining master's degrees in tech and business

By Mary K. Pratt
July 18, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A high school diploma and a good work ethic once guaranteed lifelong employment. Then a bachelor's degree and, later, graduate studies became prerequisites for top-flight jobs.
Now even that might not be enough. "It's moving toward having two graduate degrees," says Stephen Haag, chairman of the Department of Information Technology and Electronic Commerce at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business. Haag says the university's business partners, as well as students, have expressed interest in programs that teach deep technology skills along with business acumen to prepare graduates for the tasks facing IT executives today.
So in 2002, the university started enrolling students in a dual-degree program that combines a master's in business administration with a master's in IT. "You can't just be an IT specialist. You have to have the business skills to ensure long-term career success," Haag says.
In the past several years, colleges around the country have begun offering programs that pair the prestigious MBA with a master's in computer technology. Not that these dual-degree programs are dime a dozen: The Graduate Management Admission Council, a business-school association based in McLean, Va., says only about 2% of the roughly 1,400 MBA programs in the U.S. offer a dual-degree program of any kind. The council doesn't track how many of those programs offer the specific combination of an MBA and a master's in computer science.
But school administrators say employers as well as students with either IT or business backgrounds are increasingly interested in that specific duo. And while professionals on either side can pick up skills on the job, dual degrees prove they've developed knowledge in both specialties.
Pfizer Inc. in New York is one company that seeks out and hires these grads, says Justin Sowers, director of global business technology. "I like to find people with the depth of knowledge in business and a passion for technology, with the appropriate skills in both areas," he says. "It's easier to find that good balance in MS/MBA programs."
Compressed Time Frame
Students can earn their degrees in these programs more quickly than pursuing them separately because some courses in each specialty overlap. School officials say most candidates earn both degrees in just a few years. But the dual-degree programs do require extra stamina, since most require a dozen or more courses beyond a standard MBA.
Boston University, for example, requires 84 credits for its MS/MBA program, says Louis Lataif, dean of BU's School of Management. In comparison, students seeking only an MBA need 64 credits, while students who earned the master's of science in information



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