GW Business School to Require Minors
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 15:02
In a new effort to make its students more competitive after completing their undergraduate studies, the George Washington University School of Business, beginning next fall, will require all undergraduate business students to complete a non-business minor prior to graduation.
While business schools are known for teaching skills applicable to real-world working environments, universities with business programs are increasingly acknowledging the value of a more complete learning experience through a variety of liberal arts course offerings.
The George Washington University School of Business Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou reiterated these sentiments.
“Employers indicate that B-schools too often produce students who are too narrowly focused and lack the broad knowledge, skills, and values that companies and organizations desire,” she said. “More and more schools are working on strengthening the students’ liberal arts education, and our minor requirement goes in that direction.”
She indicated that the key goal for the new policy is to allow students to explore and better prepare them for the workplace. The GWU School of Business is currently ranked 71st in the country, according to Businessweek.
“The changes should make it easier for students to double concentrate, double minor, study abroad or try out different options before they select their minor outside of the B-school,” Bajeux-Besnainou said. “As GW develops more interdisciplinary minors, it will provide even more options to students.”
She went on to say that some of the most valuable skills for any student, including critical thinking, communication, and global and ethical awareness, are in fact cornerstones for many business programs.
GW’s peer institutions have expressed interest in the program.
“I am starting to get emails from other schools asking for more details about our new curriculum,” Bajeux-Besnainou said.
Although Georgetown does not have a mandatory interdisciplinary minor for its undergraduate business school students, there are liberal arts requirements for all students in the McDonough School of Business. Students are required to take 17 non-business courses in a variety of areas including math, economics, humanities, history or government and theology. Additionally, students have five free electives, allowing them to double major within the business school or complete a liberal arts minor.
Amy Fine, an Adjunct Professor of Business Law in the McDonough School of Business, discussed the strengths of a liberal arts education.
“I think the [GWU] program is a great idea,” Fine said. “My view is that a liberal arts program will give you so much background, so much critical thinking, that combined with business, you can get out of school and think your way through anything that you would need to do.”
Norean Sharpe, the Senior Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Programs at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, stated that the students at Georgetown are provided with ample exposure in areas outside of business and suggested that the GWU was encouraging the same.
“They most likely wanted to provide a broader educational perspective for the students,” Sharpe said when asked why George Washington may have decided to implement this change. “Along with the depth of a student’s major, they may have wanted to ensure breadth in their academic careers.”
Sharpe added that nearly 30 percent of business students at Georgetown minor in the College.
“I think that with all of our required general education courses in the College, our elective courses in a business major — and with the opportunity to minor in the College, it is a terrific opportunity to explore both business and liberal arts,” she said. “The students get a broad perspective, in addition to leaving with a very marketable skill set.”
Students reacted positively to the program.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity GW gave me to explore areas of study outside of business, and it seems that this new program will only further the school’s goal of helping students find other interests,” Sean Viscount (MSB ’16), a transfer student from GW School of Business, said. “Without this experience, I would not have realized my interest in astronomy, and I am now looking at ways to combine these interests upon graduation.”