KSU Business Ph.D. Recognized as First STEM Program in the State

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 12, 2024

Kennesaw State University’s Ph.D. in Business Administration program recently became the first business Ph.D. in Georgia to earn a STEM designation based on new U.S. Department of Homeland Security rules. The change recognizes years of effort by Ph.D. leadership to incorporate more technology and rigor into the curriculum and positions Kennesaw State as an attractive destination for international business students.

In Fall 2023, the University System of Georgia approved Kennesaw State’s application to reclassify its doctoral business program from a general business management degree to a STEM degree. The petition followed a decision from the DHS to expand its STEM designation to include degrees in business, management, marketing and related support services.  

Ph.D. in Business Administration students with a faculty member discussing an assignment
Ph.D. in Business Administration Students and Faculty

The chief benefit of the reclassification is that the DHS allows international students to stay in the U.S. for up to 24 months after earning a STEM degree. Other degree types only allow students to remain in the country for up to 12 months after graduation.

“Over the last several decades, the country has experienced a significant shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields,” said Dr. Saurabh Gupta, executive director of Kennesaw State’s Ph.D. in Business Administration program. “STEM-designated educational programs make it possible for international graduates to remain stateside longer to establish their careers and meet the demand for STEM-educated business doctoral professionals.”

In addition to helping fill the U.S.’s STEM talent gap, Gupta said that having more international students will also increase global participation in scholarly business research, something that AACSB International – the world’s largest business school accrediting body – is eager to do.

“AACSB has expressed a need for U.S. business schools to reach out internationally with their doctoral programs so that we can have good research with perspectives from all over the world and can increase the spread of scholarship-based education,” Gupta said.

International students are not the only ones who will benefit from the STEM designation. All students will see expanded access to funding as well as increased employment opportunities in higher education after graduation.

“Some grants are limited to STEM programs or to graduates of STEM programs,” said Dr. Reza Vaezi, associate professor of information systems and the Ph.D. program’s information systems discipline lead. “Also, graduates from STEM programs have a wider employment market as many institutions prefer to hire from STEM programs.”

Several changes in recent years made the Ph.D. in Business Administration’s designation as a STEM program possible, including updating the program’s curriculum in 2021 to focus heavily on analytics-driven research methods courses and launching a new degree concentration in risk and data analytics this year.

“Our Ph.D. program is dedicated to providing students with a rigorous, research-based doctoral education that teaches them to embrace innovation and prepares them for leadership positions in the classroom and the boardroom,” said Dr. Robin Cheramie, dean of the Michael J. Coles College of Business. “Earning the STEM designation is the latest example of the program adapting to meet the needs of current and future students.”

With businesses relying on technology and data science more than ever before, the line between a traditional business education and a STEM education is continually blurring. Gupta said he views the Ph.D.’s STEM classification as a necessity in the changing economy.

“My goal is always to evolve our program to be the best contemporary PhD. program in the U.S. for accomplished professionals,” Gupta said. “Now that STEM has found its way into nearly every discipline and profession, a STEM designation means our graduates know their degree is current, relevant, and impactful.”

-Patrick Harbin

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