Wisconsin School of Business MBA Programs first in country to receive STEM designation

October 6, 2016 By Peter Kerwin

Two specialized MBA programs that are part of the Wisconsin Full-Time MBA Program at the Wisconsin School of Business of the University of Wisconsin–Madison have become the first MBA programs in the country to receive a CIP code (Classification of Instructional Programs) with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) designation from the United States Department of Homeland Security.

While most STEM designations are in engineering and sciences, the operations and technology management and supply chain management specializations of the Wisconsin MBA Program were recognized for their strong STEM orientation and a focus on quantitative learning approaches.

“This designation is a direct result of enhancements we have made to these specialized programs and our specialization model of the Wisconsin MBA that provides intensive career preparation and real-world learning experiences for our MBA students,” says Enno Siemsen, professor of operations and information management and academic director of the Wisconsin School of Business’s Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management. “This designation highlights the unique capability of the Wisconsin Full-Time MBA Program to spur innovation, promote creative approaches, and generate advancements in our career specialization areas.”

Photo: Grainger Hall

Grainger Hall, home of the Wisconsin School of Business. Photo: Jeff Miller

“We’ve been recognized as the top graduate program for supply chain technology and the STEM designation certainly complements that,” adds Greg DeCroix, professor of operations and information management and academic director of the Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management at the Wisconsin School of Business. “It’s a reflection of how important we think it is for our Wisconsin MBA students to develop skills in information technology and analytics as we prepare them for supply chain leadership roles.”

The operations and technology management specialization initially centered on manufacturing and now has grown to also focus on technology, entrepreneurship and health care, while providing intensive management sciences coursework alongside a general management core curriculum. Similarly, the supply chain management specialization has built on its interdisciplinary curriculum (spanning the fields of operations and marketing) to incorporate more experiential learning related to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, data analysis, data-mining, and forecasting.

The federal government created the STEM designation program to help address a significant shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields. STEM designated educational programs make it possible for international graduates to remain stateside longer to not only establish their careers, but also help them meet employer needs for STEM-educated professionals. Graduating from a STEM-designated program allows international students to apply for an additional 24 months stay in the United States after graduation and receive training through work experience.

That two-year extension is an important benefit for both international students and employers seeking STEM-qualified employees.

“Before the designation, international students could remain in the U.S. for only a year before their visas ran out,” says Siemsen. “Adding two more years to that is a real value, taking pressure off MBA students and giving companies with global operations the chance to hire employees who can go abroad but be steeped in the company culture first.”