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Friday, May 24, 2024

UC Davis to introduce new business major in fall 2025

The selective major will only be open to incoming first years and will open to other students in fall 2027

 

By VINCE BASADA — campus@theaggie.org

 

On March 14, UC Davis announced that the curriculum for a new business major has been approved and will be available starting in fall 2025. The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree will join both the economics and managerial economics majors to complete the three Business Economics Cluster paths. 

The new major will feature four specializations: accounting, finance, marketing and business analysis and management and strategy. Students will be allowed up to two specializations, though they will not be eligible to declare a minor offered by the Graduate School of Management (GSM). The degree will require 108 to 109 units, slightly more than the managerial economics major’s unit requirement. 

The major was brought to fruition by the Joint Working Group for the Creation of the Business Major, which spanned three different academic departments. Its six-member team included Professors Joseph Chen and Hollis Skaife from the GSM, Giovanni Peri and Derek Stimel from the Department of Economics and Stephen Boucher and Jeffrey Williams from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 

Peri spoke on how the group worked to create a major that is distinct from existing ones.

“One important thing was for [the departments involved] to create a new business major but also maintain and value the major that we [already] offer and create something which is differentiated from that,” Peri said.

The new business major will share many prerequisites and courses with existing degrees in the cluster, but will emphasize preparing students to work in the industry rather than larger economic theory.

The Joint Working Group hopes that approximately 150 incoming first-year students will enroll in the major in its fall 2025 debut. Transfers, both from external institutions and by UC Davis students who wish to switch into the major, will not be allowed to declare until 2027. 

Additionally, the major will be selective, meaning that students will have to complete the prerequisites for the major in order to be eligible to switch. The goal is to eventually have a graduating class of approximately 300 students from the major each year, according to Skaife.

Skaife noted that it’s unlikely that any student currently enrolled at UC Davis will be able to obtain a business degree. 

“I would encourage [those students] to reach out and take a look at the minors that we offer [at the GSM], because they, too, are going to provide [a] solid business education,” Skaife said. “It’s just that, unfortunately, [these students] arrived in Davis too soon to take advantage of the business major.”

 

The announcement has raised some questions regarding the future of the managerial economics degree in particular, given the significant overlap in focus between it and the approved business degree. 

Simulations done in the analysis for the working group revealed that managerial economics, more so than economics, will experience displacement from students leaving for the business major, according to Williams. 

“About 90 students in [managerial economics] take the accounting minor, and about 30 or 40 in [the economics major] take it,” Williams said. “If we could go into the future, those people would probably end up in the new business major.” 

Matthew Schwartz, a managerial economics major and technology management minor, is the vice president of the Managerial Economics Society (MES), the only official club associated with the managerial economics major.

“It’s hard to determine the impact of this development based on the current information available, but it’s easy to assume this would lead to decreased enrollment in the Managerial Economics major,” Schwartz said via email. “I’m confident that [MES] will be able to continue its existence, while making some adjustments to accommodate students in the new major.”

Despite these predictions, Williams said that the working group hopes that the Business Economics Cluster majors will complement each other, rather than create a “hierarchy,” and allow students to specialize in the degree that best suits them.

He also noted that while students — and with them, funding — may shift following the introduction of the business degree, Provost Mary Croughan guaranteed the hiring of five new positions to help support the degree while limiting the total number of students in the program, so as not to take away from existing majors.

Another group that has reacted to the announcement is the Economic and Business Student Association (EBSA), the largest business club on campus which runs quarterly case competitions for undergraduates from all majors.

EBSA President Annie Ding, a second-year double major in economics and design, believes that while there will likely be a shift toward the business major, it will take time given that the major is unranked and unfamiliar to recruiters.

“I think [only] after maybe five, 10 years or after [will] we see how the business major actually grows and [whether] people actually see success out of taking [it],” Ding said.

Ding also offered advice for current students. 

“It’s important, if you want to market yourself more similarly to someone who has the background of a business major, to pursue [accounting and business-related minors] as well as pursue opportunities through clubs on campus like EBSA,” Ding noted.

EBSA Vice President Ashley Knauss, a second-year economics major, said that the new major will be beneficial for major diversity and discussion within clubs like EBSA. 

“With the format of our club — with case competition members [that] are put onto teams — anytime […] there’s [a] diversity of majors within the teams, [there are] going to be new perspectives and new knowledge […] that helps the team,” Knauss said.

While EBSA leaders believe that the major will bring these and other positive changes for students and give them more opportunities to pursue and explore their interests, they said that they feel the most important factor is experience.

“When you apply for jobs, no one submits their degree,” Ojas Batra, a second-year managerial economics major and EBSA co-director of program development, said. “We submit our resume.”

Batra then spoke more on the importance of experience in business.

“Looking at it from an industry perspective, if you look at numbers, MBA enrollments are going down,” Batra said. “That’s your go-to business degree, and people are enrolling less and less in even some of the top MBA programs in the country. That’s because they’ve realized that the return on investment on those programs or even the return of investment on an undergraduate business degree might not be the same as just going out to the industry and getting to work.”

Still, the working group emphasizes that the business major will bring in new attention and students, as well as career training, fairs and opportunities. They also note that while there is still some work to be done in the time between now and the major’s official launch, they are confident in its future at UC Davis.

“Building a new major at UC Davis is a complicated thing,” Peri said. “The fact that [everyone] from the Provost all the way down to the individual professors in each unit all supported it shows the commitment that the university [put into] this business degree.”

 

Written by: Vince Basada campus@theaggie.org

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