The Kellogg School of Management and the McCormick School of Engineering recently announced the launch of a new MBAi joint degree program that integrates technology and business management. The accelerated program runs for five quarters, including the summer.
Students will take all the core MBA courses, some of which have been modified to incorporate more technological content. Kellogg Dean Francesca Cornelli said the program also offers various electives at the intersection of technology and business management.
“We are trying to do something fully blended,” Cornelli said. “It’s not taking existing courses in Kellogg (or) taking existing courses in McCormick, it’s really creating new courses, new content and fully blended.”
Cornelli added that in the Kellogg courses, students will work with artificial intelligence and learn how it can be used in management.
McCormick Dean Julio Ottino said the McCormick courses will be more computer science-based, but the school is trying to incorporate other courses that are not computer science-based.
“The ambition is to have other courses that are not CS-based, for example robotics intersects with AI now,” Ottino said. “It would be important that the students get exposed to various technology (at) which we are the best, and that may include some variants even of synthetic biology, for example.”
During the summer quarter, students will complete a full-time, 10-week internship while taking two academic credits during the evening and on weekends. The quarter ends with an intensive immersion experience in San Francisco that consists of on-site company visits, industry networking events and case competitions.
Kellogg Prof. and director of the MBAi program Eric Anderson said while AI and analytics hold “tremendous promise,” most firms continue to struggle with delivering and scaling successful business outcomes. According to Gartner, AI and analytics projects had a failure rate of 85 percent in 2017, which continues to be very high despite any advances in AI since then.
“Businesses need to adapt to reverse this trend,” Anderson said in an interview with Business Insider. “Organizations need new decision-making processes, new culture and new organizational structures. And, making these changes requires leaders with expertise in both business and technology.”
Therefore, Anderson added, the MBAi program develops future leaders who can drive successful business outcomes through the adoption of AI-driven technology and innovation.
Ottino said at Northwestern, there is a lot of value in intersections across disciplines, and the MBAi program is probably the first “fully blended” degree of its kind.
“Combining the skills that normally you will get through an MBA and adding the skills coming from technology, we can create something significantly unique,” Ottino said. “What we want to create is more than what the world needs now, it’s what we think the world will need in the future ― it’s like shooting something to hit a moving target in the future.”
Cornelli said the MBAi program is going to target either people who have an undergraduate STEM degree or a work experience in technology. Because the program is not too lengthy, it will seek out people who are already technologically strong, whether through academics or work experiences, she added.
The MBAi program will start in September 2021 and end in December 2022. Prospective students can apply to be in the inaugural class by Oct. 21, 2020 for Round 1, Jan. 6, 2021 for Round 2, or April 7, 2021 for Round 3.
Anderson said the MBAi program will be focused on admitting the “right people,” so the size of the inaugural cohort will depend on the “compatible candidates” that apply.
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