Vanderbilt Launches New Global MBA

by John A. Byrne on

Four graduate business schools in North and South America, including Vanderbilt University’s Graduate School of Business in Nashville, are partnering to offer yet another new global MBA for international executives starting in August 2011. Dubbed the “Americas MBA for Executives,” the two-year degree program provides 60 students with the opportunity to study management issues in each of the four largest economies in the Americas.

Vanderbilt officials said the program grew out of recognition that global businesses are increasingly aligning their operations around all of the Americas, not just particular regions such as Central, North and South. It also responds to a growing need among companies and students for business instruction focused more deeply around issues specific to the Americas markets, the school said.

“Free trade has opened many exciting new opportunities throughout the Americas in recent years,” says Tami Fassinger, associate dean of executive programs at the Owen School. “Since Vanderbilt’s first Executive MBA trip to Mexico City in 1997, we have watched our client (sponsoring) companies move from distinct divisions in North America and Latin America to a comprehensive Americas approach.”

Besides Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Business, participating schools include Brazil’s FIA Business School, in São Paulo, Mexico’s Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in Mexico City, and Canada’s Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business in Vancouver, B.C.

“This is a program that recognizes the growing prominence of the Americas as a cohesive economic entity,” says Colleen Collins, associate dean of graduate programs at the Beedie School. “We have brought the top scholars in cross-cultural management, global competitiveness, emerging markets and new ventures together to give students a unique perspective on international management.”

Global EMBA programs have been among the fastest growing of all the new MBA offerings by business schools in the past five years. This program will begin with each school assembling no more than 15 students to participate in the Americas MBA curriculum.

During their first year, students will remain at their home school as part of its executive or part-time MBA program. Then during the second year, students from all four schools will be grouped together in cross-cultural study teams, which will embark on a yearlong, global capstone strategy project. The teams will also rotate together to each campus to engage in class work, local business practices, cultural events, as well as have face-to-face time for their project work.

Each school, officials said, will offer programming that draws on its core strengths:

First in Canada, the Americas MBA candidates will take on cross-cultural communications, human resource management and business strategy. The study groups will also begin their yearlong capstone project here.

Next they go to Brazil, where the Americas MBA students will learn about sustainability, how global markets operate and bottom-of-the-pyramid product development.

From there it’s on to Mexico City, where the Americas MBA participants tackle the topics of international trade, and learn how to navigate the large family-owned businesses that are prevalent in the region.

The Americas MBA students will spend their final on-campus visit in the U.S. focused on launching ventures and how to nurture innovation.

While the schools all provide a similar level of academic rigor and share a common educational philosophy, each institution will determine admission and tuition requirements for its Americas MBA program applicants. Classes and coursework will be in English, though applicants with foreign language skills and international business experience will be given preference.

Upon completion of the program, students will receive a joint “Americas MBA” certificate awarded by the group of four schools, in addition to the degree conferred by their home school.

“This program is all about taking a deep dive into the Americas, which is an increasingly important market for rising executives,” Fassinger said in a statement. “The Americas certificate from four top universities, on top of an MBA from a leading university in the region, is the icing on the cake to help our Americas MBA graduates be successful in ex-pat roles anywhere in the Americas.”

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