Aquinas Program No Longer Areas Largest

May 16, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Aquinas College Master of Management program is oriented to the “people side” of management — to understanding human behavior within organizations.

The focus is on broadening the leadership and management skills of people already moving up through management ranks, said Cindy Van Gelderen, interim dean of the School of Management.

“The program includes traditional business core courses such as accounting, economics and marketing,” she said, “but they’re all taught from the perspective of what information managers need to know to manage effectively.

“I think students would say the program has more of a qualitative focus.”

Van Gelderen said program concentrations are in communication, international management, marketing management and organizational development.

For students — most of whom already are in business — she said it’s an opportunity to hone their management skills in leadership, communication, group dynamics, problem solving and decision-making.

Unlike MBA programs, Van Gelderen said, Aquinas’ master’s program doesn’t include the typical business course prerequisites. Instead, candidates are required to have a minimum of two years experience in management.

She said most students actually have five to 10 years of work experience, so students benefit by cross-cultivation from the experience and expertise of fellow students. 

“It’s a dynamic program because of the people who are in the program,” Van Gelderen said. “It’s a great fit for people who need management, human resource and people skills.”

Some 200 new grad students enrolled for fall semester 2001.

Students have seven years from the date of first registration to complete the degree requirements.

If that seems to be an overly generous time allowance, Van Gelderen explained that students typically enroll in only three to six credit hours per semester. That’s because most students in the program work full time.

Aquinas offers classes evenings on campus and Saturdays on the Web.  

Sixteen full-time Aquinas faculty and 18 adjunct faculty members teach courses in the School of Management. Adjunct faculty actively working in the management field help keep the perspective fresh and the curriculum current, Van Gelderen said.

“This has been a very, very strong program. It’s been around for a while and a lot of alums recruit other students,” Van Gelderen noted.  

Ten years ago, Aquinas’s MM program was the largest graduate program around. But she noted that in the past five to 10 years, competing MBA programs have proliferated in the area.

She said enrollment is holding steady but there’s a lot more competition in the Grand Rapids marketplace. It’s not as large a program as it was 10 years ago but it’s still popular and still unique, Van Gelderen added. 

She said the MM degree can be applied to any industry.

According to Aquinas, two-thirds of students in the program are associated with business and manufacturing firms.

Other students work for a variety of organizations, including nonprofits, government and social agencies, the health professions, and education and religious institutions.   

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