New program combines MBA, BA in psychology

students in classDr. Richard Skolnik recalls a student approaching him at an open house this summer, unsure whether to pursue her degree in psychology or business. With Oswego’s new combined bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in business administration, he noted she could achieve both in one program.

“A student interested in psychology can earn a psychology degree complemented with an MBA, to prepare them to use their psychology background in a business setting,” Skolnik, Oswego’s interim dean of business, said of the new program, apparently the first dual-degree offering of its kind anywhere.

Skolnik and Dr. Tom Darvill, the program’s co-coordinators, noted that the two disciplines offer substantial complementary content, and that it’s not unusual for students to have an interest in both fields.

“Anecdotally, I know a lot of students have contacted me after graduation, asking for a letter of reference because they are applying to business schools,” said Darvill, a professor of psychology.

“The uniqueness of the new program is that it compresses the two degrees,” Skolnik said. While the MBA can usually be completed in three semesters after earning a bachelor’s, this sequence allows it to be done in two semesters, or as a fifth year of college. Pursuing the combined program means nine less credits of work than doing them separately.

“We also have faculty members who come out of a psychology background in the School of Business,” Skolnik said. “And psychology does have a key role in the business world, whether in marketing, human resources or finance—especially in the emerging field of behavioral finance.”

Darvill noted that the structure of SUNY Oswego’s psychology’s program—and the critical thinking it stresses—makes it especially useful for the working world.

“We have a heavily research-based curriculum,” he explained. “They learn the scientific method, which is very helpful in the business world. It’s important, in any field, to enter with an open mind and be able to think critically, and this offers a very strong background.”

Psychology and business share other underpinning skill sets, such as the use of statistics, math and pattern recognition, he added.

In addition to boosting students’ marketability, the new program can raise the whole college’s academic profile, Skolnik said. “One advantage for SUNY Oswego to have a program like this is it will attract highly motivated, competitive students who may not otherwise come here,” he explained. “It’s a five-year program they can’t find elsewhere.”

Those applying to enter the program as freshmen must have a minimum high school average of 90 and a combined SAT score of at least 1150. Students who have completed at least 30 hours of college work can transfer into the program if they have a minimum GPA of 3.3.

Students have to apply for admission into the graduate program during their junior year, although those who complete the appropriate coursework can opt out of the program after four years with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in business.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Management team—SUNY Oswego master’s in business administration students, from left, Sweta Sanyal, Bob Pagano, Chen-Yi Chen and Sarah Pickering discuss a project in their “Marketing Management” course earlier this month. The class is among the offerings in Oswego’s new combined MBA and bachelor’s in psychology program, which may be the first dual-degree program of its kind.

(Posted: Sep 19, 2007)

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