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Why doesn't Duke have an undergraduate business program?

When I sat down with Fuqua's  Kathie Amato, assistant dean for executive MBA programs and associate dean for the Master of Management Studies program, and Deputy Dean Bill Boulding, or spoke via telephone with Fuqua Dean Blair Sheppard about the new Master of Management Studies, the question of why Duke does not have an undergraduate business  program often arose.

The University once had an undergraduate business program—it ended in 1979, the year Sheppard came to Duke.

"The reason we got out of it is a belief that business is inherently narrowing as a subject matter, and if it is the first thing you learn, you are really ill-prepared for the world you are about to enter," Sheppard said. "We believe that, we inherently believe that."

He said the creation of the Master of Management Studies program does not indicate that Duke should have an undergraduate business program.

"Is the existence of a law school evidence that we should be teaching law in undergrad—silly question," he said. "I'd say the same thing about what we're doing."

Amato drew from personal experience to help explain the lack of an undergraduate business program.

"We really like the marriage of either the strong base in the liberal arts or the strong base in the sciences... with [the Master of Management Studies program] because we really believe that when you combine those two, it is a far more powerful combination and really gives someone the benefit of what we believe is a true Duke sort of education, quite frankly," she said. "I was a religion undergraduate who immediately went to school and got an MBA. The fact that I have that very strong liberal arts, religion, philosophy background was very huge to me throughout my career."

Duke does have a broader option for students interested in business, the Markets and Management Studies Certificate program.

"If you want to go into business, business school, start a business, or work for a business, this is the way to do it," said sociology professor Lisa Keister, director of Markets and Management Studies. "The whole idea, especially at Duke, is that you have very broad liberal arts training.... That is still true in the certificate program."


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