A Program Portfolio for Business and Society

Deputy Dean David Bach explains how Yale SOM’s new Master of Management Studies in Global Business and Society advances the school’s founding mission.

July 23, 2018

Yale SOM students

This fall will see the arrival at Yale SOM of 32 students from 17 different countries to embark on the new Master of Management Studies in Global Business and Society.

With an average age of 24, these “early career” students are younger than your typical Yale MBA. Yet they have all lived, worked, and attended university in multiple countries. The students spent the past year studying in a Master of Management program at one of seven Global Network for Advanced Management schools—in Hong Kong, Paris, Madrid, Istanbul, Milan, Vancouver, or São Paolo—before coming to Yale SOM to form the inaugural class of the new Global Business and Society program. About 60% of the program’s curriculum consists of a set of advanced courses that introduce students to Yale SOM’s distinctive approach to management and prepare them for global leadership roles across sectors. The remainder of their time will be spent in electives, where they will mix with our MBAs, Master of Advanced Management students, and Yale graduate students. Working jointly with career offices at other Global Network schools and colleagues at Yale College, the Yale SOM Career Development Office is cultivating a set of career paths that will place graduates anywhere in the world in positions at the analyst or senior analyst level, more junior than the typical MBA but increasingly in demand.  

The introduction of the Global Business and Society program is the latest addition to Yale SOM’s program portfolio, which has undergone some important changes over the past six years. During its first three decades, Yale SOM offered just one degree program—a rigorous two-year, full-time general management immersion leading initially to the MPPM degree and since 2000 to the MBA. Starting in 2005, SOM introduced the MBA for Executives (EMBA), a weekend version of the same rigorous MBA program for a small group of midcareer working professionals initially only from the healthcare sector. Since 2012, however, the rate of portfolio change increased with the launch first of the one-year Master of Advanced Management (MAM); the 2014 expansion of the MBA for Executives by adding focus areas in asset management and sustainability to the existing healthcare program; the launch of the MMS in Systemic Risk in 2017; and, this fall, the introduction of the MMS in Global Business and Society. As a result of these changes, the percentage of Yale SOM students who are enrolled in the full-time MBA will have fallen from just over 90% in 2011-12 to around 75% in 2018-19.

What is the strategy behind the introduction of these new programs? What goals have the school’s faculty and the Dean’s Office been pursuing through these changes? What are the drawbacks of offering a portfolio of different degree programs rather than focusing on just one? And what’s next?

When Dean Ted Snyder arrived in New Haven in 2011, he engaged students, faculty, alumni, and boards, as well as the university’s leadership, in a conversation about the school’s scale and scope. While there was broad consensus that SOM should remain one of the smaller top U.S. business schools, it was also evident that the school would benefit from adding faculty and growing the student population. The plans for Edward P. Evans Hall already anticipated a greater footprint and, in addition to supporting a larger faculty, the enhanced student body would enable investments in first-rate student, career, and alumni services that are necessary to compete for top talent.  

One possibility would have been to realize growth via the full-time MBA, essentially to focus on scale only. However, the cyclical nature of the full-time MBA market and the growing popularity of alternatives to the traditional two-year MBA suggested that the school might be better served by a set of small, high-integrity additions with positive externalities for existing programs.

A lesson all Yale SOM students learn is that strategy is about making choices. For a mission-driven organization such as SOM, these choices must be viewed, above all, from the perspective of whether they enhance our ability to deliver on our mission to educate leaders for business and society. Any change to the program portfolio also had to strengthen our overall positioning around the three objectives of (1) being the business school most connected with its home university; (2) the most global U.S. business school; and (3) the best source for elevated leaders across all sectors and regions.

With this in mind, it is evident why specialized master’s programs popular at other business schools, in accounting, marketing, or real estate, would not have served Yale SOM well. In contrast, the MAM was designed to fit squarely with the school’s mission. MAM students have completed an MBA program at another Global Network for Advanced Management school and come to Yale for one year to take electives with our second-year MBAs and across the university. The expanded second-year class allows SOM to offer a greater diversity of electives than our peer schools, which benefits our MBA. This is also good for faculty development, as it enables faculty, particularly junior faculty, to offer courses that align with their research interests. Moreover, because all MAMs come to SOM from abroad, we now have the most globally diverse second-year classrooms among top business schools, enhancing our MBAs’ ability to lead across regions. Similarly, we have bolstered our ability to attract global recruiters, as MAMs are on average three times more likely to pursue career opportunities outside the U.S. than their MBA peers. Lastly, because on average they take twice as many non-SOM electives as our MBAs, MAMs have helped us integrate more with Yale.

Strengthening cross-Yale links was also a key goal of our second major portfolio choice: the decision to grow the EMBA program by building on the existing rigorous curriculum and biweekly classes on campus by adding focus areas in asset management and sustainability. While the healthcare track continues to engage faculty from Yale School of Medicine and Yale School of Public Health, the sustainability focus area has more deeply connected us with the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the asset management focus area features prominently Yale’s thought and practice leadership in the world of institutional investing. Curriculum development in these areas has benefited full-time MBAs, as has the presence on campus of midcareer professionals from these sectors. Moreover, healthcare, sustainability, and asset management are located squarely at the nexus of business and society, making the expanded EMBA an effective proof point for the school’s mission. (For more about our EMBA strategy, see this 2015 BizEd article.

The establishment of the Master of Management Studies (MMS) gives the Yale SOM faculty the ability to offer a set of tailored one-year programs—think of it as an MA degree for SOM. The MMS in Systemic Risk, which launched in 2017, leverages SOM’s Program on Financial Stability under the leadership of Andrew Metrick and trains professionals from central banks and financial regulators—6 students last year and 11 entering this fall. The previously mentioned MMS in Global Business and Society marks SOM’s entry into the early-career space, the fastest-growing segment in management education. By working closely with Global Network schools who have long led in this space, we bring into our community promising future leaders for business and society who are not pursuing the traditional two-year MBA route.

Are more degree programs coming? The short answer is no—there are currently no plans for additional programs under the MMS degree umbrella. However, groups of faculty have had conversations about how small, focused offerings in asset management, data analytics, or behavioral economics might contribute to the school’s mission, catalyze new curriculum development, and further enhance our ability to attract and retain the best faculty.

The introduction of new degree programs has made Yale SOM a stronger school, better positioned to deliver on its mission in a changing global management education landscape. Of course, the process has not been friction free. In the classroom, MAM and MMS students join MBAs who have already formed a close community during their first year. Students in one-year programs have to find jobs without the benefit of summer internships, upending some established CDO and recruiter routines. And fostering the integration of EMBAs, who are on campus when MBA, MAM, and MMS students usually have no classes, requires creativity and a lot of dedicated staff effort. But these are good challenges—after all, they underscore that Yale SOM, while steeped in its founding mission, is a school on the move.

David Bach
About the author

David Bach

Deputy Dean for Academic Programs and Professor in the Practice of Management