NYU Stern Launches Two New One-Year MBAs: Tech and Fashion & Luxury

by on May 15th, 2017

INSEAD, watch out. New York University Stern School of Business is getting into the one-year MBA game—and leveraging its New York City location in a major way. Stern announced yesterday that it will launch two new May-to-May MBA programs, one in tech and a second in fashion and luxury. In just 12 months, students in these programs will complete a foundational business core, a specialty area core, and electives. Along the way, they will work on real-life business projects for companies in tech or fashion and luxury respectively, gaining the experience and building the relationships that will land them jobs when they’re done.

Accelerated MBA programs that require less time out of the workforce and carry a lower tuition price tag to boot have enjoyed broad appeal throughout Europe for years. INSEAD’s 10-month program—offered across campuses in France, Abu Dhabi and Singapore—topped the Financial Times ranking for the second consecutive time this year, buoyed in great part by the quicker return on investment it can offer to students thanks to its accelerated timeline.

U.S. business schools, meanwhile, have been slower to go the one-year route. Especially for careers in consulting and finance, the summer internship between the first and second years of a two-year program has been an important part of landing a job post-graduation. And for people looking to make a career change—or to explore that possibility—two academic years with experiential learning over the intervening summer has given them the runway to do so.

But if you know without question that you want to pursue tech or fashion and luxury when you graduate, Stern’s new programs are worth considering. Each program is expected to welcome an initial cohort of roughly 30 students in May 2018, with applications due next fall. Students will complete 51 credits over the course of 12 months, graduating with a Stern MBA in one year. Tuition, though not finalized, is expected to fall in the $95,000 range, according to Stern Dean Peter Henry.

A Potential Game Changer for the New Economy?

The new programs were developed to address market needs in close consultation with industry, said Henry. “We want to make sure there are choices in the marketplace for students,” he told Clear Admit. “For most students, the two-year MBA will continue to be the program of choice,” he said. “But for students who are certain they want to go into tech or fashion and luxury, we wanted to figure out a way for them to get to their degree more quickly—and offer a different kind of experience.”

It’s also a bid to remain relevant in a changing economy. Henry came to Stern in 2010 in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and a new economy renaissance has been underway ever since. Silicon Alley, just blocks from Stern, has emerged as an epicenter for tech just as Wall Street has long been the epicenter for finance.

“We have been arguably the most important provider of talent for Wall Street for the past 50 years,” Henry said. “As citizens of this ecosystem, we felt we had an obligation to figure out how we can be as important to Silicon Alley over the next 50 years as we have been to Wall Street over the past 50 years.”

Stern’s downtown New York location—within blocks of both Silicon Alley and the Fashion District—puts the school in regular conversation with leaders in both tech and fashion and luxury. To inform the process of creating these new programs, Stern assembled power-packed advisory boards filled with business leaders from each industry. One includes top brass from Amazon, Google’s parent company Alphabet, PayPal, Microsoft, and other tech titans as well as heads of technology for old economy giants like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. The other is made up of heads of fashion, including Gilt Groupe Founder Alexis Maybank; Simon Collins, founder of the Fashion Culture Design Unconference and former dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons; and SWW Creative President and CEO Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

A New Type of Talent Is Needed

The message from both these groups is that a new type of talent is needed. “From big tech to small tech to startups, what we hear is, ‘We can’t find enough tech talent,’” Henry said. “There is a shortage of tech talent relative to demand.” And as the distinction between tech companies and companies run by tech grows ever blurrier, the need for graduates equally conversant in tech and business grows greater.

“In our line of work, there is an acute need for people who understand both business and technology,” said Don Callahan, Citigroup head of technology and operations, who is a member of Stern’s new Tech MBA Advisory Board. “To realize the full potential of the rapidly growing fintech industry, we need to equip future business leaders with the skills necessary to drive innovation and impact at scale,” added PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman, also an advisory board member.

“We have the same kind of interest being expressed to us by the denizens of the fashion industry,” continued Henry. “There is an important need that has not been met—they are looking for people who have an appreciation and deep knowledge of fashion, but also a business background. There is a marriage that needs to happen, if you will, between the creative and analytical side.”

“The world is filled with promising designers who start labels that fail because they lack the business acumen to transform their innovations into viable businesses,” said Fashion Lab Advisory Board Member Collins. “By developing business talent that understands the creative side, NYU Stern will help close this gap by encouraging the kind of collaboration upon which successful brands are built.”

New Format Creates Different Avenues to Post-MBA Jobs

“The traditional path of MBA students toward careers in investment banking and consulting have been based on a model of internships as a hiring tool,” Raghu Sundaram, Stern vice dean for MBA programs and online learning, told Clear Admit. “But in tech and fashion and luxury, hiring is not predicated on the internship model.” Stern’s approach with these new one-year MBA programs is to create a different avenue. “We are not only responding to the changing nature of the job market, but also to the changing nature of the skill requirements of certain parts of the economy,” he said.

Over the summer, students in the new programs will complete a foundational business core with courses in subjects like finance, accounting, marketing, economics, and strategy. With some exceptions—more advanced data analytics courses for Tech MBA students, for example—students in both one-year programs will sit together for the business core. In the fall, they’ll complete a specialty core. For Tech MBA students, this will be a choice of three master’s level computer sciences courses like software engineering, tech product management, and emerging technologies. Fashion & Luxury MBA students will choose from courses like retail strategy, retail analytics, and luxury management. Electives will fill the spring semester. Last but not least, a fourth core of the new program will be an experiential learning component, putting students to work on real problems for real companies.

Stern Solutions—School’s Branded Approach to Experiential Learning

You’d be hard pressed to find a business school that doesn’t tout the fact that it provides its students with ample experiential learning opportunities through projects involving work with real businesses. In reality, that is the whole basis of the summer internship. And this interplay between the students and the companies gives both an opportunity to try one another on. Many top schools have layered in additional experiential learning opportunities throughout the curriculum as well.

“We have been doing experiential learning in a really powerful way for the last 15 years,” said Henry, noting that the school’s proximity to the finance industry—and now the burgeoning new economy—makes experiential learning a part of its DNA. Through a range of industry-specific immersions, courses, and projects, Stern’s approach has been to match students with faculty to work with companies ranging from the Union Square Hospitality Group to Jet Blue to ABC News. Student participation in these types of projects has increased by more than 130 percent in the past two years, the school reports.

But with the launch of these new one-year MBA programs, Stern needed to figure out a way to embed experiential learning in real time throughout the one-year experience. In response, the school is looking to brand its approach to experiential learning—calling it “Stern Solutions”—lace it through the new programs, and actively market it as a competitive advantage.

Once students have completed the summer semester business core, they will work on two company projects, one in the fall and one in the spring. Working as part of three- to five-member teams, students will help companies address a business issue over the course of each semester. In this way, the Stern Solutions projects function in much the same way traditional summer internships do in two-year MBA programs. “They give students the ability to get to know companies and vice versa,” said Sundaram. Unlike summer internships, though, students in the Stern program will receive academic credit for these experiential learning stints—not pay. Each will count as a regular three-credit course, Sundaram said.

In addition, students in each program will participate in two, week-long immersions. For the Tech MBA program, the first one will take place in New York in August and the second, in Silicon Valley in January. Featuring classes in the morning and company visits in the afternoon—likely with a paper due at the end—the immersions will be intense, warned Sundaram. “They will not be tourism,” he said for emphasis. For the Fashion & Luxury MBA, the first immersion week will be in New York. The location of the second has not yet been finalized but will be either Paris or Milan.

In addition to baking in these various experiential learning opportunities, Stern was strategic in assembling its advisory boards to consist of preeminent leaders in each industry. “We are hoping that their input and advice will make students in these programs attractive to employers,” Sundaram said. “And we hope to deepen those relationships significantly in a way that will have a positive feedback on the two-year program.”

Tech and Fashion & Luxury Were Natural Choices for Stern

Student interest, the depth of existing Stern faculty, and the school’s location made it a no-brainer to focus on tech and fashion and luxury, say both Henry and Sundaram. In each instance, the new programs build upon ways that Stern has already been innovating.

Tech is already the school’s third largest area of placement, behind consulting and finance. One in every 10 Stern grads went into tech last year, up from just six percent two years earlier. That is less than many top business schools—HBS last year sent 19 percent, Stanford sent 33 percent, and Berkeley’s Haas School sent 39 percent—but it is more than uptown neighbor Columbia Business School’s seven percent. And presumably this new degree will only increase the school’s ability to place graduates in tech jobs. It also plays to one of Stern’s strengths. Though best known for its finance faculty, Stern has one of the largest collections of computer science and data scientists of any leading business school, said Sundaram. “Tech was a natural choice,” he said. The Tech MBA was preceded by the launch of a fintech MBA specialization last fall, likewise intended to leverage existing faculty strength and Silicon Alley proximity.

Where fashion and luxury is concerned, the new program also builds on forays the school has already made into the space. In 2009, the school launched a luxury marketing specialization for two-year MBA students, and the NYU Stern Fashion Lab, a central hub for industry-related projects and networking, is now being created to serve all Stern students. The school currently sends between three and four percent of its two-year MBA grads into the industry, and the fashion and luxury page on its website is among its most often visited, according to Sundaram. The Fashion & Luxury MBA is the first of its kind in the United States—and, especially amid technological disruption, those in the industry have increasingly viewed adding business-savvy professionals to their creative staff as a competitive advantage.

“NYU Stern Fashion Lab will be a nexus for fashion brands, retailers, and media to come together with students, faculty, designers, technologists, and entrepreneurs during this time of incredible disruption and will play a valuable role in the Fashion & Luxury MBA student experience,” said Fashion Lab Co-Founder Joseph Ferrara, a member of the Fashion & Luxury MBA Advisory Board who has also led multiple major supply chain companies serving the branded apparel market.

So How Do You Apply?

We thought you’d never ask. At present, the school is planning an application form that is similar to the two-year MBA program’s. The profile of students they will be looking for is similar in many ways to the two-year program, with a few key differences, explained Sundaram. Work experience, average age, competitive GPA and GMAT scores all will be the same, but applicants to the Tech MBA must demonstrate a substantial technological background. “If not computer science majors, we would like them at least to be STEM majors with a decent coding background,” he said. The curriculum, developed in partnership with NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, is designed to prepare students to propel their careers in product management, fintech, and tech entrepreneurship.

The application process will begin a little bit sooner than the two-year program, with Round 1 applications due by September 15th. A second round will likely carry a mid-November deadline, and there may or may not be a third round, according to Sundaram.

In Henry’s mind, the addition of these two new programs is a logical extension of Stern’s approach to learning. “We state our mission pretty simply. We are a school that specializes in producing people and ideas who can turn challenges into opportunities,” he said. “These one-year programs are another manifestation of that mission statement.”

“There is a burgeoning space and a demand for a new type of talent, and we saw this as an opportunity to fill a market need,” he continued. The proof, of course, will be in how the market responds and how well Stern does at placing these new one-year MBA grads into jobs.

Learn more about NYU Stern’s new one-year Tech MBA and Fashion & Luxury MBA.

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