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Updated 2:15 PM December 9, 2008




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Dual degree blends business acumen, creative insight

The art of business and the business of art have come together in a new post-graduate degree.

As a strategic and timely solution to the ongoing challenge of preparing students to thrive in the complex 21st-century job market, the dual graduate degree program joins a rigorous business curriculum with an immersion in the conceptualization, development and distribution of creative work, University leaders say.

The four-year program awards participating graduate students two degrees upon completion of their studies — a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA). One of the first MFA/MBA programs in the United States, it coordinates curriculum between the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and School of Art & Design (A&D).

Applications for Fall 2009 admission into the program are now being accepted and are due Jan 1.

Teaching business fundamentals to art and design students and encouraging business students to investigate the context and methodologies of creative work is an uncommon, but exceedingly timely, hybrid of academic disciplines in a multidisciplinary world where innovation is essential.

"Market pressures and commercial realities have a profound impact on creative work in art and design," A&D Dean Bryan Rogers says. "Yet study in economics, marketing and accounting isn't available through standard MFA programs."

"The new program", says Brad Smith, associate dean for graduate education at A&D, "provides students critical entrepreneurial and management skills along with a thorough analysis of advertising and marketing models. It gives students a deeper understanding of how creative work is conceived, produced and distributed."

In a culture immersed in visual images, multi-media and branding, creativity is an indispensable component of business success. For business students, in addition to combining intensive training in real-life business consulting and traditional coursework, the MBA program aims at a deeper understanding of the cultural currents that shape marketplace sensibilities. The dual degree program expands business students' traditional coursework to include a study of perception, design processes and visual media culture.

"Business students must learn to be innovative in responding to challenges, and creative in solving problems," says Valerie Suslow, associate dean at the Ross School. "Learning design principles and understanding the evolution of creative work gives business students insight into marketing, product design and organizational behavior."

Design increasingly is integrated into business strategy, Suslow says. "Designers benefit when they are fluent in basic business fundamentals that haven't been part of the traditional design education or career path," she says. "Graduates with the dual degree will be prepared to operate effectively within the growing number of organizations that require significant cross-functional collaboration."

The dual degree program requires one year less of study than pursuing the two degrees independently.

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