Wealth or Waste?
Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 2:51 PM PDT
An article appeared in the April 5th edition of the Wall Street Journal - "Wealth or Waste? Rethinking the Value of a Business Major." The article claims "faculty members, school administrators, and corporate recruiters are questioning the value of a business degree at the undergraduate level."
Where are these faculty, administrators, and recruiters?? I have yet to run into them! The article says the biggest complaint is that "undergraduate (business) degrees focus too much on the nuts and bolts of finance and accounting and don't develop enough critical thinking and problems solving skills…"
Message to Melissa Korn, the writer, and all the faculty, administrators, and recruiters that she apparently knows that I don't - not all undergraduate business programs are alike!!
Let's take the business program at Seattle University and other Jesuit schools like us. Our business students take the same university core curriculum that other students on campus take. That means the same history, philosophy, theology,science classes that psychology, political science, and math majors are supposed to take. This means 60 of the 180 credit hours required for graduation, excluding the economics and statistics and business ethics courses they take that are offered in the business school.
So, to the extent you think that critical thinking and problem solving skills are only gained outside the business curriculum, Albers students are covered. But, I am not willing to admit that the business curriculum does not contribute to these skills. Quite to the contrary! Our students see plenty of real world projects, case studies, and writing assignments in business courses that, among other things, develop their critical thinking and problem solving capabilities.
The author says schools are "taking the hint," and responding accordingly. For example, George Washington University is turning to their psychology and philosophy departments to teach business ethics. Um, excuse me, but the Albers School has three business ethics professors with PhD's in philosophy. We love our colleagues in psychology and philosophy, but we don't need to run to them for help to teach business ethics, nor do we need to add a business ethics course to our curriculum - it's already there.
Ironically, in the April 5th edition of our student newspaper, The Spectator, there was an article about the current job market for students. A main point of the article was that the good news about the job market is misleading, because it is business (and engineering) students who are getting all the job offers!
This is the ultimate test! What does the market want? Right now the market is saying it wants to hire talented and well-prepared students from the Albers School! If you check out the Albers Career Center, you will see that there are many companies interested in our students. If our students lacked critical thinking and problem solving skills, the Albers Career Center would be very quiet right now.
I can't speak to what happens in every business school, but it is time for the Wall Street Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other "experts" to stop treating undergraduate business education as a flawed homogenous experience.