Published on 2016/03/23

Differentiation Through Diversification: Dual Degrees in the Business Education Market

The EvoLLLution | Differentiation Through Diversification: Dual Degrees in the Business Education Market
International dual-degree programs provide business schools the opportunity to really stand out to employers and, by extension, prospective students, but there are significant challenges in managing these unique programs.

The global business education marketplace is immensely competitive at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Institutions in the United States, Canada and Europe are all working to differentiate themselves and their offerings, and students are spoilt for choice. At Brock University’s Goodman School of Business, leaders have launched a dual-degree program with three European business schools to provide a unique opportunity to prospective undergraduate students. In this interview, Diane Miller reflects on the reasoning behind launching these programs and shares her thoughts on some of the challenges involved in managing such an undertaking.

The EvoLLLution (Evo): Why did the Goodman School decide to launch the Co-Op International Dual Degree BA Program?

Diane Miller (DM): It was part of a process to find ways to increase the international scope of our students and faculty. We recognized that in order to be successful, both newly minted business graduates and our faculty needed to have a more global understanding of business. So we began by increasing the international exchanges for students and faculty, adding master’s programs to attract international students and then adding the dual degree.

Evo: What did it take to forge partnerships with the NEOMA Business School, the EBS Business School and Dublin City University to get this program off the ground?

DM: EBS was our first partner. The program got its start by a chance meeting of our then-Dean Martin Kusy and the Dean of EBS, Axel Schumacher, at a student competition in Rouen School of Business in France. Dual degrees are popular in Europe and the Dean of EBS suggested the two schools should start discussions of international exchanges and possibly a dual-degree program. It took several years to map the courses and programs for the two schools in order to determine course equivalencies and degree requirements. The agreement to run the program was signed in April 2008 and the first students arrived at Brock from EBS in January 2009.

Our newest partners NEOMA and DCU approached us in 2012 to propose that we work together to create dual-degree options for both of their schools. They already had partners in the U.S. so it was relatively easy to modify those programs to work for Brock.

Evo: How do you expect the Co-op Dual Degree program to differentiate the Goodman School of Business in Canada’s competitive business school landscape?

DM: The program maximally integrates critical components of a business education and beyond.

First, co-op helps this to stand out. Co-op programs are the most desirable business education programs as they combine both education and work opportunities together, allowing students to graduate with a year or more of relevant work experience and making the student highly desirable to employers. Additionally, dual-degree students have worked for employers in two different countries, so they gain skills and experience that move them well beyond the normal graduate.

Besides learning the skills required for a successful business career such as marketing, finance, accounting, etc., these students also learn language skills which can assist them in obtaining careers on the international stage. They acquire high levels of skills that may be less obvious such as flexibility, adaptability and problem solving, as they maneuver through very different cultures and school systems.

The graduates of the dual-degree program differentiate themselves.

Evo: From an administrative perspective, what do you expect to be some of the most significant differences between managing this program and managing a more traditional Business Administration BA program?

DM: There are a number of challenges not seen in a regular program. We have to manage systems and programs for each of our partner schools that can be significantly different from our own. We have to map courses to ensure that students are able to obtain a degree from both of the universities that they are attending. We also have to monitor changes in programs at each of the partner schools.

There are challenges of assisting and tracking students who are coming and going and ensuring that they have the knowledge of the schools that they are attending to be able to maneuver their way through what can be significant differences in classroom content, grading systems and management.

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Key Takeaways

  • International dual-degree programs help business schools stand out by creating highly qualified graduates with diverse and rich experience, which employers notice and appreciate.
  • Managing international dual-degree programs is a significant challenge given that institutions must keep a handle on all the moving parts at not just one, but two institutions separated by an ocean.
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