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MBA/ME Joint Degree Program

The Darden Graduate School of Business Administration
The School of Graduate Engineering and Applied Science

Program Objective

Positions of leadership in firms pursuing technologically-based competitive strategies call for managers (graduates) who have been thoroughly grounded in the technical practices of an engineering field and in the social, political, and organizational practices of the field of business administration. Graduates of the MBA/ME program will be prepared to face both the managerial and technological challenges associated with innovation and technical activities throughout the business firm. The MBA/ME joint-degree program creates an opportunity for graduate students to acquire breadth of understanding and added flexibility needed to operate effectively at the interface between the commercial and technical units of modern industry and society.


The MBA/ME program is administered by the MBA/ME Program Committee. This is a two-person appointed committee, with one member from the Darden faculty and one member from the School of Engineering and Applied Science faculty. This committee is responsible for reviewing applications, helping to coordinate the curricula for the students, and resolving problems that might arise.


A student must apply and be admitted to both the Darden school and the Engineering School as a degree applicant through each school's normal admissions process. A joint-degree program application is not considered at this point. Once admission is secured to both schools, a separate application is then made to the MBA/ME Program Committee for admission to the MBA/ME program. Admission to both schools does not guarantee admission to the MBA/ME program.

Degree Requirements
Program Hours and the Directed Study
Students in the MBA/ME program are required to complete 24 hours of course work for the Master of Engineering degree in the U.Va. School of Engineering and 69 hours of course work for the Master of Business Administration degree in the Darden School. Normally, the ME degree requires 30 course hours and the MBA requires 78 course hours. The requirements are compared with regular degree requirements in Table 1.

Table 1. Comparison of Proposed Joint MBA/ME Degree Requirements
Separate Hours Joint Length Separate Hours Joint Hours
MBA DARDEN 4 semesters 78 69
ME Engineering 2 semesters, 1 summer 30 24
Total 6 semesters, 1 summer 5 semesters, 1 summer 108 93

Overall, the schools anticipate that the joint degree will be obtained in approximately one semester less than the time required for the two degrees separately. If a student drops out of either part of the joint-degree program, he/she will be required to complete the normal degree requirements to obtain a single degree in either the School of Engineering or Darden. Two typical MBA/ME programs of credit hours are given in Table 2 for illustration.

Table 2. Example Joint-Degree Programs of Credit Hours
Darden (MBA) Engineering (ME) Darden (MBA) Engineering (ME)
Semester 1 22.5 --- 22.5 ---
Semester 2 22.5 --- 22.5 ---
Summer 1 --- 6 Job Job
Semester 3 6 6 6 6
Semester 4 6 9 9 6
Summer 2 Job Job --- 6
Semester 5 12 3 9 6
Total Hours 69 24 69 24

MBA students in the joint-degree program are expected to use their elective courses to provide depth in the areas that reflect their joint-degree educational objectives and career interests. For example, MBA students might select electives in international business, marketing, operations/technology, quantitative analysis, and organizational behavior. The Darden Directed Study (3 credit hours) will normally be combined with the U.Va. Engineering course requirement of a 3-credit-hour project in the ME program. This combined 6-hours requirement will be jointly supervised by a Darden and a U.Va. Engineering faculty member. Exceptions to a joint project have to be approved by the MBA/ME Program Committee.

Of the 24 hours in U.Va. Engineering, 21 hours will be normal course work and 3 hours will be a project course taken in an appropriately numbered course. A minimum of 12 hours of course work must be taken in the major department, with a maximum of 6 hours at the 500 level. None of the 24 hours may include a course taken in the Darden School. The project must have one advisor from U.Va. Engineering and another from the Darden School.

  1. Program-of-Study Approval
    Each student must submit a program of study to the MBA/ME Program Committee that outlines how the degree requirements of each school will be met. The student must also present a rationale regarding how the student's joint-degree educational objective will be achieved with the planned set of courses and their particular sequence. A coordinated set of courses developed and justified on the basis of specific educational objectives for each joint-degree applicant can be expected to produce a more meaningful educational experience for highly motivated students than would two separate, sequential programs.
  2. Joint Direct Study/Research Project Requirement
    The jointly supervised, directed research project (3 credit hours in each program) should be designed to place the student into a technologically intensive setting to carry out a project that could not normally be approached and effectively completed by a student enrolled and pursuing non-coordinated, independent projects in the two schools.
  3. Classroom Teaching Opportunities
    MBA/ME candidates should inform the instructors of their courses of their enrollment in the joint program. Faculty are encouraged to use opportunities in the classroom to draw on these specialized student interests and resources.

Sample Engineering School Focus Areas
As an example, students interested in the joint-degree program might focus their engineering studies in Systems and Information Engineering. Students interested in focusing their engineering studies in a different department should consult the graduate program director in that department.

The Department of Systems and Information Engineering offers the Master of Engineering degree for students interested in:

  • the development of mathematical models and computer-based systems such as intelligent decision systems, decision-aiding systems, decision-support systems, and expert systems;
  • systems, decision and risk analyses of large-scale complex problems involving multiple decision-makers, conflicting objectives, and strategic implications; and
  • engineering management.
Opportunities for specialization exist in areas of concentration, such as:
  • intelligent decision systems
  • telecommunications
  • environmental systems
  • systems management

MBA / ME Joint Degree: Educational Emphasis and Synergies
Educational synergies will be created in three areas by a coordinated set of courses:

  1. Communications/Persuasion Abilities
    Interfunctional communications and persuasion skills are critical at the interfaces of marketing, research and development, engineering, and manufacturing - particularly for carrying out successful innovation. The program fosters these skills by requiring students to operate back and forth across the boundaries of the engineering/business schools' student bodies and faculties. The program will more rapidly and effectively develop students' abilities to communicate and argue persuasively with the distinctive sets of professionals and managers in the technical and nontechnical (commercial) areas of business.
  2. Flexibility and Responsiveness
    Requiring students in the program to participate in a jointly supervised project requires a student to develop and exercise a set of learning and project-management skills that take into account the different problem-solving skills and perspectives of two faculties and two disciplines simultaneously - an important skill in technology management.

In addition to these overall educational synergies arising from the joint-degree experience, each student will be influenced by specific course linkages across the courses in the two schools. Example programs of study are shown in the following tables in order to display the types of pedagogical course structures that could be created within the joint-program framework.

Table 3 Joint MBA/ME Program of Study: Example 1
Educational Emphasis: A working understanding of decision sciences with a particular emphasis on managing the innovation process (for new products and processes) from idea generation to commercial exploitation; dealing systematically with risk assessment and change management associated with innovation decisions.

Hours Darden Course Required Engineering Courses Core Hours
45.0 First year Introduction to Systems (SYS 601) 3.0
4.5 Business policy Math Programming (SYS 603) 3.0
1.5 Business & Political Econ II Stochastic Systems (SYS 605) 3.0
3.0 Directed Study Project Course (SYS 895) 3.0

Electives Electives
3.0 Risk Analysis (SYS 650) Multi-Objective Decisions (SYS 754) 3.0
1.5 Sustainable Innovation & Entrepreneurship Systems Integration (SYS 602) 3.0
1.5 Creating the Future Total Quality Engineering (SYS 674) 3.0
3.0 Decision Analysis (SYS 614) Risk Analysis (SYS 650) 3.0
Total Hours 24.0
1.5 Bargaining and Negotiation
1.5 Optimization Models for Management
1.5 Starting New Ventures
Total Hours: 69.0

Table 4
Joint MBA/ME Program of Study: Example 2

Educational Emphasis: Design application of knowledge-based systems and decision-support systems focusing principally on improving the planning, evaluation, and control of information technologies in knowledge-worker areas (services and manufacturing).

Hours Darden Course Required Engineering Courses Core Hours
45.0 First year Intro. to Systems Engineering (SYS 601) 3.0
4.5 Business Policy Math Programming (SYS 603) 3.0
1.5 Business & Political Econ II Stochastic Systems (SYS 605) 3.0
3.0 Directed Study Project Course (SYS 895) 3.0

Electives Electives
3.0 Decision analysis (SYS 614) Software Engineering (CS 685) 3.0
1.5 Management of Service Ops Cognitive systems Engineering (SYS 623) 3.0
1.5 Problems in Data Analysis Database Systems (CS 662) 3.0
3.0 Data Mining (SYS 618) Total Hours 24.0
3.0 Strategic Costing
1.5 Quality Management
1.5 Improving Asset Utilization
Total Hours: 69.0

For more information regarding graduate studies at U.Va., please see the U.Va. Graduate Record.