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June 23, 2010

Denise Schoenbachler
Denise Schoenbachler

NIU approves MBA collaboration
with French university

DeKalb, Ill. — The NIU Board of Trustees today approved a new fast-track MBA program that will allow students to earn not only a master’s of business administration from NIU, but also a master’s degree in international management from the University Montesquieu Bordeaux IV, School of Management, in France – all within 12 months.

The program will be the first double degree MBA offering in the Chicago area, and NIU is the first university in the U.S. to partner with this institution.

“This is much richer than an exchange program, or study abroad opportunity,” said Denise Schoenbachler, dean of the NIU College of Business, explaining that the dual-degree program was developed cooperatively by faculty at the two schools to create a single, unified program that shares not just students, but faculty and administrators. 

“It is a seamless collaboration with the University of Bordeaux, incorporating the strengths of both schools and providing students with a unique experience. The two degrees earned by graduates will provide them with the skills needed to excel in the multi-national corporations of today’s global marketplace,” Schoenbachler explained.

Enrollment in the program is expected to be around 25, with 20 percent of the students coming from France.

While the program is aimed at younger students (an average age of about 25 is anticipated) it will be modeled after NIU’s successful Executive MBA program, which is aimed at individuals who typically have a decade or more of business experience.

Employing that model, students will be divided into teams and will work closely throughout the semester, taking classes together and collaborating on projects and presentations. Students will also spend part of each week traveling to corporations throughout Chicago to shadow executives and to learn first-hand about international business. The class also includes a four-month capstone project that will require each team to study a problem presented by a corporation and suggest solutions.

For three weeks in November, and again in March, the class will travel to Bordeaux to study under French professors and meet with executives in that country.

Unlike NIU’s other MBA programs, the class will meet five days a week, with classes during the day. It is also unique in that the program will be based at the university’s flagship campus in DeKalb.

“Because of the full-time, day-time nature of this program we felt that these students needed a campus experience,” explained Schoenbachler. “It will provide them more opportunities to interact with faculty and become part of the culture at NIU and in the College of Business.”

While Wednesday’s action officially launched the program, it has already drawn substantial interest. More than 20 qualified applicants have already contacted the university seeking admission into the program. Inquiries have come not just from Illinois, but also Alabama, South Carolina, Massachusetts and Indiana. More than a dozen students in France have sought applications for the program.

“That level of interest is amazing because we haven’t even begun to market this program. We have made mention of it at some open house events, and the rest has been all word of mouth,” said Paul Prabhaker, the associate dean in the NIU College of Business who oversees graduate programs. “Students are very excited about the innovative nature of this program – both the international component and the extensive opportunities to interact with business professionals.”

The board gave its unanimous approval to the fee request required to finalize the program, setting hourly fees at the same level as tuition. The cost of the program, including travel to and from France, and lodging while in Bordeaux, is expected to be less than other AACSB accredited Chicago area MBA programs, which offer only a single degree and no international travel.

NIU President John Peters said that he is excited to watch the program unfold and believes it may open up new opportunities across campus.

“This is an exciting new model for globalizing education,” Peters said. “The level of collaboration between NIU and the University of Bordeaux on this program truly sets it apart. It provides a blueprint for creating rich, new international experiences for our students.”

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Media Contact: Joe King, NIU Media Relations and Internal Communications
Phone: 815-753-4299
Email: joking@niu.edu