Business school proposes academic minor program

By Danielle Stoppelmann, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 23, 2012

For many students entering an uncertain job market, having a background in business has become increasingly attractive.

To account for the mounting interest in a business education, the Ross School of Business has been developing a minor program for the past year. The school, which has already created a core curriculum for the minor, is currently sending proposals to all of the University’s other schools and colleges for approval and it is expected to start being offered as soon as next school year.

The aim of the proposed minor is to complement a student’s degree by integrating a business education, Lynn Wooten, the associate dean of undergraduate programs at the Business School, said.

If adopted, she said the minor will target the high demand for business courses from non-business students and will be helpful for students as they pursue future degrees and various professions.

“We have such a high quality BBA program, we have great students at the University of Michigan, we wanted to have a minor program for students who don’t want to major in business, but they think their careers or interests may need to have some knowledge in business,” Wooten said.

Phil Deloria, the LSA associate dean for undergraduate education, said though he has not yet received the proposal, LSA will consider the requirements and standards set for the minor to ensure they are parallel with the curriculum set by other LSA minors.

He added that LSA will approach the proposal the same way they would any other concentration or minor, and will be open to negotiate the terms if it does not meet its standards.

“We trust our colleagues over in Ross ...There could be some negotiation, but I don’t think I’d anticipate that,” Deloria said.

In order for students to pursue a Business minor, the college they are enrolled in must first approve the proposal from the Business school. Each college’s decision is independent and departments can accept or reject the proposal without affecting another college’s ability to decide, Wooten said.

Wooten said a task force comprised of students, faculty and recruiters has been working for about a year to conduct research and develop a “rigorous core” for the proposed minor. The group also researched business minors offered at other competitive universities and peer schools across the nation.

If accepted by other colleges, Wooten said the minor is scheduled to be integrated in the 2013-14 academic year. To apply for the minor, students will have to submit an application consisting of one or two short essay questions.

For the first year, only 100 students will be accepted until the department can examine the progress of the program and determine how to proceed.

Classes for the 15 credit hour minor will be taught in the Business School by its faculty members, Wooten said. While accounting will be a requirement, students will be able to choose between finance and operations management, management and marketing, integrative strategy class and action-based learning classes.

Deloria speculated that the minor will especially interest students who feel they will benefit from having a foundation in business when looking for a job after graduation.

However, he said LSA’s consideration of the program will be based on what will best benefit students.

“Business seems to be an important thing to have in their portfolio,” Deloria said. “That sentiment is not unanimously shared across the college by either the students or faculty, but we also just want to have as many options as possible for our students. The bottom line for us is always to think what’s in the best interest of our students.”

Deloria added that LSA and the other University colleges have different teaching methodologies. While LSA is more focused on providing a broad education and using comparisons, experiments and models, pre-professional schools often organize teaching around applying skills to specific case studies.

“With a liberal arts degree, what really matters is the 120 hours, the full range of thinking, the connective stuff across those different domains that trains your mind in a certain kind of way,” Deloria said. “To have a minor as part of your LSA 120 hours, a minor in something that’s slightly different but which is part of a bigger world of thinking, (there’s) nothing wrong with that.”

Wooten noted that the minor’s core classes are not integrated with Ross students, adding that the case studies will also be more geared toward Business minor students who are focused on a diverse range of non-business related topics, including non-profits, government relations, engineering and sports management.

Ultimately, Wooten said the Business school is looking forward to seeing more students taking business classes.

“We’re excited that we can offer a systematic education experience for students who want to complement their LSA or Engineering or other school’s education,” Wooten said. “It extends the Ross brand.”

LSA freshman Spencer Chernus said he has been pre-admitted to the Business School and said he thinks introducing a minor in business to other colleges at the University will be beneficial to all students.

“I think it’s an awesome idea ... it would do wonders for education,” Chernus said. “Everyone should be exposed to a business education as well as liberal arts to some degree.”

LSA freshman Derrick Roldan said integrating the learning styles of the Business School with other programs can enhance students’ education by introducing different learning methods.

“It opens up different ways of thinking, so those different paths together would be a good thing,” Roldan said.

Engineering freshman Mark McBride said the Business minor could help students in the future when applying to jobs.

“Having a knowledge of business in the engineering world can help you land a better job in a company after school,” McBride said. “Business can relate to everyone because when you’re out of school, business is everywhere.”