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Posted 4.20.06

CLEVELAND - When Alexander DiCaprio receives his Master’s of Science in Management (MSM) degree next month from Case’s Weatherhead School of Management, he will most likely go on to work in a marketing position for a hi-tech firm. It’s quite a change for the 23-year-old native of Lansdowne, PA, who wasn’t sure what he would do with his life after receiving his B.A. from Case in 2005

DiCaprio and 13 other students are the first graduates of the Weatherhead School’s MSM program for the liberal arts, a one-year degree program designed to give liberal arts graduates a background in business.

“Coming in to the MSM program I didn’t know where I was going or how I would get there,” DiCaprio recalls. “But the program really focused me. I found I really enjoyed marketing. I got a marketing internship with Flashline (a Cleveland-based software company), and I’m talking with some other computer companies about marketing positions when I graduate.”

For Andrea Porter of Silver Spring, MD, the MSM-liberal arts program has helped pave the way for a full-time position in her chosen field of political fundraising. While a student at The College of Wooster, she landed an internship in the office of Montana Senator Max Baucus, working in fundraising. “A lot of the people we dealt with were executives from major corporations,” she says. “I was studying political science, and I felt like I had to get a better understanding of the business world.”

After graduating from the MSM-liberal arts program, Porter will take a position with a political action committee raising funds for Baucus’s next campaign.

Students in the nine-month program take courses in economics, statistics, finance, operations management and business strategy, as well as several electives. They also take part in an “action learning” program in which they work on projects at area companies and organizations. All their classes are taken with MBA students.

Graduates of the program may also return to the Weatherhead School for an MBA after at least one year of work experience.

Albert DiFranco, director of the MSM-liberal arts program, explained that the MSM program has existed for many years, but until this year only offered specialties in operations research and supply chain management.

DiFranco said reaction to the program from both faculty and the liberal arts students has been very positive. “The students are doing a lot of word-of-mouth advertising back to the undergraduate schools they came from,” he said. Partly as a result, the program will expand next year to between 25 and 30 students. In addition, the program is expanding its pool of “partner schools,” undergraduate colleges which are promoting the program to their students.

Allison Duly, who grew up in Avon Lake, Ohio, graduated from Denison University with degrees in economics and Spanish and had little knowldege of the business world. “I feel like I have a much better grasp of how companies operate, how all the parts fit together,” she said. She also enjoyed sharing classes with MBA students, who were generally older and had work experience. “We brought a different perspective coming right out of undergraduate school. I think it helped everyone,” she says.

Duly says her goal is to find a job that will enable her to work abroad.

For Safia Al-Kharsa, a native of Saudi Arabia and graduate of Smith College, the MSM program represented an opportunity to strengthen her quantitative skills. “Most of the courses I took in college were qualitative subjects and I wanted to learn more about subjects like finance and accounting,” she says. “I also like the flexibility that the program provides. With the business background, I feel like there are lots of different directions I can go.”

Visit the MSM website for more information on this program.

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