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Building Bridges in Allston

September-October 2017

As ironworkers assembled the frame of the University’s science and engineering complex in the summer heat, bridge-building of an academic kind proceeded, too, as Harvard’s Business and Engineering and Applied Sciences schools (HBS and SEAS) anticipate their physical proximity, scheduled for 2020, by launching a joint degree program now. The two-year master’s degree in engineering, management, and design skills aims to equip students to drive innovation in new or established technology companies. Nitin Nohria and Francis Doyle III, the schools’ deans, unveiled the program in June; students will enroll in August 2018.

The schools’ faculties have been meeting to explore common research interests (see “Academic Allston, At Last,” July-August 2016, but the new degree accelerates their collaboration. Its parameters suggest the kinds of synergies the deans hope their faculties will realize. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in engineering, computer science, or a related technical field; at least two years of work experience—preferably in designing or developing technology-intensive products; and the credentials to satisfy both schools’ requirements for admission to degree programs. Students will be immersed in system engineering; complete the HBS first-year M.B.A. required curriculum; participate in classroom exercises in entrepreneurship (from assessing customer needs through design and prototyping, to marketing); take a new integrated-design course; and pursue team projects as a capstone for their degree.

In outlining this course of study, Doyle said, “our faculties have found a perfect balance” of management and technical-engineering training, yielding a program that should prepare “individuals who have the best of both” disciplines. The S.M./M.B.A. program aims to train “the next generation of leaders,” as Nohria put it, “the set of leaders the world looks to” in technology enterprises.

Read an in-depth account of the degree, its underlying pedagogies, and the schools’ developing connections in Allston, in the broader Harvard context, at harvardmag.com/hbsseasdegree-17.

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