New NIU MBA includes study in Spain

The ENAE Business School in Murcia, SpainBusiness moves faster and blurs borders now more than at any time in history.

To keep pace, companies are looking for employees who bring a unique set of skills to the workplace, one that Northern Illinois University College of Business Fast-Track MBA programs are designed to provide. The program provides students with the full MBA curriculum, and incorporates six weeks of study abroad so that students learn about business in the international marketplace.

At the conclusion of the 12-month program, students graduate with two advanced business degrees – an MBA from NIU and a master’s degree in international management from a partner university in Europe.

The program kicked off three years ago when NIU established a partnership with IAE, the Bordeaux University School of Management, in Bordeaux, France. A second track was recently added, this one in partnership with the ENAE Business School in Murcia, Spain.

Applications for the new offering, which begins meeting in January, are currently being accepted. As part of the partnership agreement, about 25 percent of the students enrolled in the program come from the partner universities in Europe.

Denise Schoenbachler

Denise Schoenbachler

“We have created an exceptional program that sets our graduates apart,” said Denise Schoenbachler, dean of NIU’s College of Business. “It provides students with unique experiences, under the leadership of some of our best faculty, students learn about business in other cultures and do so in a short time frame. It’s a rigorous program, the demands of which simulate what students will face in the business world.”

The program begins with two seven-week modules in DeKalb, guiding students (not all of whom have undergraduate business degrees) through an accelerated boot camp of business basics, covering accountancy, management, finance and information systems. The coursework covered earns credits toward both the NIU degree and that of the partner university.

Days are long, with six-to-eight hours of classroom work Monday through Thursday, and evenings filled with readings, papers and group projects. Due to the nature of the work, all students live on or near campus. Fridays offer a break from the grind as students travel to businesses in Chicago and the suburbs to learn from actual practitioners.

About midway through the program, students head to Europe.

The new program in Spain is structured such that students will spend nearly all of their time traveling to businesses and learning directly from businesspeople.

“It will give them a chance to see firsthand the issues that European Union companies are wrestling with, rather than read it in the news,” said Paul Prabhaker, assistant dean of the NIU College of Business. “For instance, this first cohort will meet with bankers who are dealing with one of the biggest banking crises in Europe right now.”

The cycle is repeated in the second semester.

A close-up photo of the flag of SpainStudents also receive support from a career coach, attend business seminars on topics such as presentation skills and business writing, and are assigned an e-mentor – an experienced businessperson who helps guide them and answers questions.

The experience students get is very attractive to businesses looking to hire individuals to work overseas, Prabhaker said: “It equips graduates with tools and specific knowledge that puts them ahead of the curve.”

That advantage has helped the program, which is the only international dual degree MBA program in the region, attain nearly a 100 percent job placement rate for graduates. The cost for the program is $40,000, about a third of some Chicago area MBA programs that do not include overseas travel.

Interested students are invited to an informational meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in Room 210 of Barsema Hall. For more details, call (866) NIU-MBA1 or email mba@niu.edu.

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