This time next year, graduate students with business savvy and artistic talent will be able to kill two birds with one stone.

University officials announced yesterday plans to offer a dual program combining the Master of Fine Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees in Fall 2009.

Coordinated between the Ross School of Business and the School of Art and Design, the program allows for increased flexibility so students can take courses in both schools.

Though the School of Art and Design had been toying with the notion of collaborating with another school, it wasn’t until a MBA student brought up the idea of such a degree that the program became a reality, Brad Smith, associate dean for graduate education in the School of Art and Design, said.

The University one of the nation’s first schools to implement the program. New York University and Yale University offer similar joint degrees.

Smith said the new program will help business students be more competitive as they enter into the job market.

“I think the business students will learn an appreciation for the creative process,” he said. “Particularly in marketing, students will learn what affects consumers and what the visual culture is all about.”

He said the program will also benefit art students by helping them understand the commodity market in which they operate.

“They must understand the business component because that’s the world they live in,” he said.

In order to enroll in the program, students will have to apply and be accepted by both schools. Smith said the program expects to admit one to two people every year. Applications for Fall 2009 are being accepted until Jan. 1.

The program is part of a larger effort by the University to reach across campus to combine different areas of study, in addition to hiring more interdisciplinary faculty and promoting more collaboration between colleges.

Last November, President Mary Sue Coleman announced plans to hire 100 new tenure-track faculty members for interdisciplinary research.

“This kind of work has never been more important. Great universities like Michigan must transcend disciplines to in order to be truly effective in addressing societal needs,” Coleman said in a speech at the time.

In addition to the hiring push, individual schools are encouraging students to be active all over campus, not just in their own school.

David Munson, dean of the College of Engineering, has pushed for interdisciplinary study since he took the post in 2006. In an interview with the Daily last month, he said he sees a strong parallel between engineering and the arts.

In fall 2007, he and deans from other schools on campus teamed up for the Arts on Earth initiative, an annual program sponsoring multidisciplinary projects and events.

“There’s an aspect of the work that’s very creative and design-oriented,” Munson said in the interview. “But there’s another aspect of the work that’s all about refinement and optimization and making something better and better, whether it’s the design of a bridge or playing a piece by Bach.”

Most MBA students interviewed yesterday said they didn’t think offering the joint degree was necessary, but that it could be very beneficial.

Bo Liu, a second year MBA student in the Ross School of Business, said the joint degree was a much-needed program.

“I think this is very needed because in the fine arts area, they need some people who know about the arts as well as the business, so that they can really touch the economic value of the fine arts,” she said.

— Daily Staff Reporter Kyle Swanson contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.