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At Mason, Studying Business Is No Minor Matter

By Jason Jacks on January 3, 2012

When it comes to picking a minor, Mason is all business–literally, as the program is by far the most popular among students.

According to data from Mason’s Office of Institutional Research and Reporting, 342 students were declared as minors in the School of Management’s business program at the start of the 2011 academic year, nearly double that of the second-place minor, psychology.

Alison O’Brien

When told of the program’s lofty perch, Alison O’Brien, the School of Management’s associate dean of undergraduate programs, smiled and nodded as if to say “tell me something I don’t already know.”

“We’ve seen a steady increase in students over the last several years,” says O’Brien, adding the school has had to bring in more adjunct professors and add classes to accommodate the crush of students.

To earn a minor in business, students must take four required courses: MSOM 300 Managing Financial Resources, MSOM 301 Managing People and Organizations, MSOM 302 Managing Information in a Global Environment, and MSOM 303 Marketing in a Global Economy. In addition, students must take one elective, giving them 15 credits to complete the program.

Many, if not all of these courses, will be offered through distance learning starting next fall.

So why are so many students minoring in business? According to Shelly Canterbury, coordinator of the minor in business, one answer is quite obvious: the gloomy economy.

She gave the hypothetical example of student who longs for a degree in art or music. But when the parents, who are acutely aware of how tough the job market is right now, catch wind of this, they may persuade their son or daughter to pair the degree with a minor in business so as to improve the student’s employability after graduation or to give the student the tools to start a company.

“Everything that you do translates into business,” Canterbury explains.

Sport management major Kristen Zimmerman

Case in point is sports management, which junior Kristen Zimmerman is majoring in. She is also one the 342 students currently minoring in business. She wants to obtain a managerial position in sports someday, a job, she says, that requires a strong background in business.

“I like that the business minor gives a general background in business and encompasses a broad spectrum of topics,” she says, adding that faculty in the sports management program recommended the business minor to her.

Jackie Peterson is a senior who is pairing her major in art with a minor in business. In terms of her career prospects, she says, she hopes the money management and people skills she is acquiring in the minor will give her “more opportunities” in the future.

“I like the idea of possibly opening my own small business one day,” she says. “And if not that then a business minor will help me communicate with the corporate world associated with graphic design. Everything I’ve learned in these [business] courses can be directly applied to my future career endeavors.”

The way both of these students are going about reaching their goals, according to O’Brien, falls right in line with the theme at the School of Management: “Pursue your passion but be smart about it.”

And when pursuing your passion, O’Brien adds, having an educational training in such business pillars as finance and management can only help.

“Everybody needs business skills,” O’Brien says. “They’re valuable no matter your major.”

As of the start of the fall 2011 semester, 2,364 students were signed up for a minor. Here’s how the programs stack up in terms of enrollment:

Business 342
Psychology 161
Information Technology 120
Economics 83
Spanish 80
Art and Visual Technology 70
Communication               69
History 55
Conflict Analysis and Resolution 52
Global Affairs 52
Criminology, Law and Society 45
Tourism and Events Management 45
Japanese Studies 41
English 39
Legal Studies 34
Mathematics 32
Theater                32
Biology 31
French 31
Music 31
Chinese               28
Women and Gender Studies 28
Art History 27
Chemistry 27
Computer Science 26
Dance 26
Electronic Journalism 26
Sport Communication 26

Source: Office of Institutional Research and Reporting


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