Masters in Finance

Specialty MBAs: Faster and cheaper than the 'real thing'

July 31, 2012: 5:00 AM ET

Abridged business master's programs are growing at a time when applications to full-time MBA programs are declining at many schools.

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

By Paula Lehman

(Poets&Quants) -- Practically every 20-something has a "five-year plan," an idea of where they want to be by the end of that time and a rough idea of how they are going to get there. And, like all plans, they are never as straightforward or simple as they may initially seem.

Tyler Louie's five-year plan was as straightforward as they come. He graduated from Northwestern University in 2007 with an engineering degree and went to work for Motorola as a software engineer. He figured he'd get the experience he'd need to have a fighting chance at a top business school, keep his contacts in the technology industry, and "go from there."

It took about 20 months for Louie's plan to change.

In January 2009, Louie heard about a specialty MBA program at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and applied that April. He would be a member of the master's in management studies foundations of business program's first graduating class. A specialty MBA was, and basically remains, a nominally known degree. Yet despite having a position as a software engineer at Motorola and even a competing offer from another software company, Louie applied to the program as soon as he caught wind of it.

"It offered a good blend of what I needed to get to go where I wanted to quicker," says Louie, who is now vice president of user experience at BNY Mellon. "It did end up being an alternative to an MBA but just in terms of what I wanted to get out of it." More

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