3 faculty and 3 alumni talk about 3 grad programs that take learning to the next level.
Although each has pursued a unique path, three current professors and three alumni of Michigan Technological University’s School of Business and Economics all agree on a sure-fire way to add value to a quality undergraduate education: MTU graduate school.
The most obvious gain is financial—on average, people who hold a Master’s degree tend to have higher incomes and lower unemployment rates than those with a Bachelor’s degree. Graduate degrees also allow students to hone in on an area of expertise and deepen their knowledge and experience while gaining a broader, more global point of view. Although each program has a distinct focus, all are aligned with Michigan Tech’s mission to inspire students, advance knowledge, and innovate to create a sustainable, just, and prosperous world.
We visited with the professors and alumni to discuss the benefits of the SBE’s graduate degree programs: Master’s of Science in Accounting, Master’s of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics, and the Tech MBA® program.
MBAs aren’t just for business majors any more. Research conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, a non-profit organization of leading graduate management schools around the world, recommends that students pursue graduate management studies for leadership and managerial skills building, global awareness, improved earning potential, and the capacity to make a social impact.
Michigan Tech’s MBA program continues to expand. The current program focuses on technology and innovation management–teaching students how to develop, deploy, and implement new technologies at organizational levels. In order to meet the demands of the market the SBE continues to evaluate their MBA program and find ways to support MTU’s STEM based undergrad students. An MBA combined with a B.S. in a STEM field is a powerful combination.
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Dr. Latha Poonamallee, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, and Founding Director of Michigan Tech’s Center for Social Innovation. She sees GMAC’s findings reflected in the university’s MBA program. “Our program focuses on developing skills in effective decision-making and managerial competencies such as ethical leadership, excellent business communication skills, and management of technology.” Another program strength is the incorporation of real-world elements. She adds, “We use a variety of innovative and field-oriented teaching methodologies including case studies, real life consulting projects, and computer-based simulations.”
"My MBA has allowed me to learn and understand medicine through a different lens and appreciate the bigger picture of health care."
Dr. Andrea (Taglione) Bouman ’12 (MBA), 16’ (MD) knew she wanted a career in medicine, but acknowledged the power of an MBA. She explains, “My MBA has allowed me to learn and understand medicine through a different lens and appreciate the bigger picture of health care. I feel this has had a significant impact in the way I understand medicine and how I see myself as a clinician.”
Dr. Bouman and Dr. Poonamallee agree that an MBA broadens a student’s perspective beyond the confines of a specialization.
As its student body—and the global market—continue to diversify, Michigan Tech’s SBE graduate programs are keeping pace, arming students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
Masters of Science in Accounting
Accounting is known as the “language of business.” That’s one reason why Joel Tuoriniemi, Professor of Practice in Accounting and Director of the MS in Accounting program, believes “there is literally no undergraduate major that would not benefit from studying accounting.” As part of its foundation, SBE offers finance and economics students an excellent path to becoming a Certified Public Accountant. Alumnus Troy Hecht ’15, who works at Deloitte and Touche LLP as an Audit Senior Assistant, states, “My education has given me the opportunity to apply for and pass the CPA exams. It made sense to pursue an MS…the additional credits put me over the required threshold and added to the base of knowledge I gained from my undergrad studies.”
"One of the things that makes our MSA program unique is we work with students to develop a path of study that aligns with their interests."
But Professor Tuoriniemi is quick to note that the program offers much more. Increasing numbers of students are seeing the value of an accounting education in launching businesses, fast tracking their management careers, or as a springboard into PhD programs. He explains, “Finance majors develop a keen understanding of financial statement analysis to assist in valuations; information systems majors learn the importance of integrating applications and business needs to develop reporting that is both understandable to the end users and a provides a critical tool in decision making; math majors sharpen big data analytics skills to refine models and better interpret results.” He notes that in addition to the traditional CPA exam, MTU graduates are prepared to pursue certifications as financial analysts, fraud examiners, control specialists, and risk analysts.
"My education has given me the opportunity to apply for and pass the CPA exams."
Even engineers are coming on board. Through the MS in Accounting program, students are able to complement their STEM education and differentiate themselves by demonstrating an understanding of concepts in production costing, capital budgeting, and lean management. They are able to earn certifications in management accounting and cost estimating, which give them an edge over job search competitors. As Professor Tuoriniemi says, “It’s a great thing to be able to sit in an interview with a potential employer and convey that not only can you design a great product, you also possess a skill set to help make sure the company is profitable in doing so.”
Masters of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics
The SBE’s Assistant Professor of Economics, Dr. Latika Gupta, describes applied natural resource economics as “the study of the economic and business aspects of natural resource management and use.” As such, Michigan Tech’s MS degree encompasses a wide array of studies, including business, economics, forestry, geology, engineering, social sciences, and technical communications. Its real-world applications range from public policy analysis to environmental issues. The degree program is flexible so students can design a course of study to fit their areas of interest, while providing a solid foundation in economics.
"It made me a better person to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself."
Alumnus Brian Keith Frame ’85, earned a position at Nukem, Inc. right after he graduated from MTU. He’s been there ever since. “I started as a Market Research Analyst and advanced over the years (to) my current position as Executive Vice President. Regarding doors opened, great experiences, interesting people and cool projects—I could go on for a long time.” His work has taken him across the U.S. and around the globe, to Canada, Australia, Europe, and most memorably, the former Soviet Union. He has found real-world applications for the knowledge he gained at Michigan Tech. He recalls, “I took a GeoStatistics class at MTU and my final project was to calculate the reserve/resource estimate of a set of data provided for a uranium deposit in Wyoming. Little did I know I would get a job in the nuclear fuel industry. Also my thesis was a system dynamics computer model of the U.S. zinc industry, which helped in preparing me to evaluate other metals markets, especially uranium.”
"The degree forces students to use logic, thought and improve problem-solving skills which have universal applications."
Dr. Gupta sees applications for an economics degree in a variety of other fields and industries as well, especially those that require “extensive reading, research, skill in synthesizing large amounts of information and logical thinking; knowledge of history, politics, finance, human behavior, and diverse cultures.” She notes that graduates of the program have taken jobs in departments of government at the international, national and state level. They have worked on Wall Street, in the oil industry, with consulting firms, and with engineering firms.
The University has a goal to grow Master’s programs and SBE is proud to contribute to that growth. SBE strives to add value in developing well rounded students with a strong skill set, including those in STEM areas.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.