Friday, August 7, 2009

Changing face of U.S. workforce propels GSU’s new Executive Doctorate in Business program

As American executives grow older – and live longer – many are looking to lengthen their careers well into their golden years but find their MBA degrees only take them so far.

As a result of this trend, Georgia State University’s new Executive Doctorate in Business degree program – where the average student is age 47 -- received double the number of applications than it had actual slots in the four short months since the program was unveiled. A total of 25 percent of those accepted into the program will travel a great distance to attend classes, including from California, Connecticut, and Arkansas.

“Our target class size is 21 and we received such great response to the program, we put some on next year’s waiting list,” said Maury Kalnitz, director of the Robinson College of Business Executive Doctorate in Business program. “We enrolled 21 students with incredible backgrounds, including from Fortune 500 companies.”

The Executive Doctorate in Business at GSU is one of few programs of its type in the nation. The three-year GSU doctorate program is practitioner-focused and designed to equip executives with advanced skills they can bring back to their respective workplaces. By comparison, other doctoral programs focus on careers in academia.

“I’ve been interested in pursuing a doctorate for years but a program didn’t exist that was less than four or five years,” says Jim O’Connor, a 45-year-old from Greenville, S.C. who owns his own consulting company and begins the program later this month.

He added, “The focus of the program is very exciting to me. I plan to develop my research skills, apply those skills, build credentials and a professional network, and change the focus of my business to an environmentally sustainable one.”

Several of GSU’s top scholars in business will be teaching in the program, including Lars Mathiassen, academic director of the Executive Doctorate in Business program, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, and co-founder of the Center for Process Innovation at the Robinson College of Business; and V. Kumar, executive director of the Center for Excellence in Brand and Customer Management and the Richard and Susan Lenny Distinguished Chair in Marketing.

“It used to be that after you reached a certain age, there were no more educational opportunities,” said Kalnitz. “They may be at the top of their career ladder, but executives need to go further, to learn how to apply research methods to practical problems in ways that benefit their companies, as they remain in the workforce longer.”

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