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Pillar #2: Portfolio of programs

We will expand and balance our portfolio of programs to build synergies and enhance overall impact.

For most of our history, and like most schools, we focused almost entirely on the MBA and Executive MBA programs. Over the past few years, however, we expanded our offerings to build a small portfolio of other, highly innovative programs—from one-year MS Finance and Masters of Accountancy degrees for those just launching a career, to a Master of Management in Health Care for professionals in the field, to summer business programs for undergraduates.

Building on the success of these programs, designed to appeal to business people at various stages in a career, we are pursuing our portfolio strategy with even greater vigor. These programs enable us better to meet the wants and needs of a wider variety of students, which in turn enhances our “personal scale” advantage.

Expanding our MS Finance program.

In just ten years, our first one-year program has gone from startup to powerhouse. The MS Finance not only has benefited from our global reputation in finance but has helped reinforce it among the top firms that serve as our program partners. (As evidence, 100 percent of our graduates in the MS Finance Class of 2015 had job offers at graduation.) Given the strength of and high demand for this program (and its graduates), we are increasing the size of the program by 25 percent, from 40 students to 50. It’s an amount that will allow us to increase our reach and impact with forfeiting the personal scale that is at the heart of our brand.

Creating a new JD/MS Finance program.

In partnership with Vanderbilt University Law School, we are creating a new JD/MSF degree. The three-year program (which students complete in the same amount of time, plus one summer, that it takes to earn a law degree) will prepare students for legal careers with large financial institutions. Because finance and the law are an important intersection on the business landscape, students with an understanding of both fields will be highly sought by employers. The new degree also supports one of the larger university’s “pillar” strategies: to develop more trans-institutional initiatives that unite disciplines and expertise within the Vanderbilt community.

Expanding our Executive Development Institute.

For a number of years, the Vanderbilt Executive Development Institute has quietly done an outstanding job in providing highly focused, skill-building programs for executives and customized educational programs for organizations. This Institute, we believe, presents great opportunity for us to forge closer relationships with top companies, in both the Nashville area and far beyond. So part of our strategy to build our portfolio is to expand the reach and capacity of the institute under the leadership of its new executive director, Skip Culbertson. As one example, the EDI is piloting an approach (innovated by Professor David Owens) that combines technology-enabled distance learning with on-site program delivery.

Launching new masters’ programs targeted at key areas of demand.

We will continue expanding our portfolio with new targeted programs, leveraging what we believe has become both a strength and a distinctive feature among business schools devoted exclusively to graduate education.

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