The Inaugural Cohort of MBAxMS Students Arrives on Campus

The 20-month graduate program will prepare students to solve challenges that require engineering acumen and business savvy.

Sep 08 2023 | By Grant currin | Photo Credit: Credit: April Renae/Columbia Business School
Students conversing around a table at the official MBAxMS welcome program

The 34 students in the inaugural class will receive a Master of Business Administration and an Executive Master of Science in Engineering and Applied Science. Credit: April Renae/Columbia Business School

A new graduate program is giving aspiring leaders in business and tech the opportunity to hone their executive skills. 

The inaugural class of students in the new dual degree program, which pairs the foundational skill sets of business with those of engineering, attended an official welcome event co-hosted by Columbia Engineering Dean Shih-Fu Chang and Columbia Business School Dean Costis Maglaras

In opening remarks for the Aug. 24 event, held in Kravis Hall on Columbia Business School’s Manhattanville campus, Dean Chang said, “The defining characteristic of this program is the convergence of technology, innovation, and business to make an impact — that’s what business is really about.”

Students in the 20-month program will receive two degrees: a Master of Business Administration and an Executive Master of Science in Engineering and Applied Science. This innovative MBAxMS program is designed to prepare students to step into leadership roles that require both a rigorous technical background and competence in core business skills, including leadership, strategy, finance, economics, and marketing. 

The 34 students in the inaugural class are returning to academia after spending an average of five years in the professional world. Nearly half of the students come from the technology sector, with the rest coming from positions in healthcare, biotech, fintech, green business, consulting, and engineering. Fifty-five percent of the incoming class are international, representing 12 countries beyond the U.S.

Dean Margalas told students that developing the program has been a “labor of love,” more than four years in the making. 

“What’s clear from reading your applications is that you’re deeply interested in learning more about the incredible technologies that are being developed and are changing the world and in how they will actually be implemented at scale to have a positive impact in our economy and for society,” he said. 

In addition to taking classes such as Digital Disruption & Tech Transfer, Business Analytics, and Human-Centered Design and Innovation, the students will spend a summer pursuing an entrepreneurial venture or interning at a technology company and complete a capstone project.

Shih-Fu Chang speaking among the inaugural cohort of MBAxMS students

Columbia Engineering Dean Shih-Fu Chang welcomes the new MBAxMS class at the Aug. 24 orientation and reception. Credit: April Renae/Columbia Business School

Professor of Professional Practice Harry West, who is engineering director for the dual degree program, highlighted how current challenges in the world call for new thinking and approaches. “It’s going to require a different set of skills than has been the norm.”

Daniel Guetta, associate professor of professional practice and faculty program director for the business school shared a similar sentiment.

“The fact this program exists reflects that the world has realized how important it is to be able to code as well as to think in the large strokes, present, talk to people, and communicate,” he said. “There was never a box to slot people like us into. Hopefully this program becomes a place where people with this combined set of skills take their place in businesses around the world.”

The dual degree program, which is based in New York City, provides students with unmatched access and opportunities to work with and learn from the world’s leaders in business, technology, data, analytics, and more. This includes opportunities to learn from guest speakers, meet with in-house mentors, and pursue internship opportunities that extend beyond the summer months. With one of the largest tech and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the country, the New York City location provides a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for the Dual MBA/Executive M.S. in Engineering and Applied Science students and graduates.

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