Coming: Souped-Up MBA

New degree to be unveiled in May; but is it worth the $450?
Lisa YoonApril 29, 2003

Finance executives looking for ways to jazz up their resumes may want to consider a new degree certification that’s being unveiled next month. MBA graduates who want to earn the spanking-new Certified Masters of Business Administration (CMBA) certification can start testing as early as May 5, 2003.

The CMBA, a cross between a CPA and an MBA, is designed to distinguish “experts” from mere B-school graduates or certified accountants.

According to AccountingWEB, slightly more than half of the MBA graduates who volunteered for an initial testing of the exam earned a passing grade, or enough to earn the designation of CMBA. The high failure rate, says Paul Muchinsky, an MBA professor who helped create the test, shows “that attaining an MBA degree does not necessarily equate with being competent in fundamental business knowledge.”

The exam is being developed by the International Certification Institute and Prometric, which is also developing the new computerized CPA exam for the accounting profession.

The idea is to help employers to distinguish top MBAs by their resumes. But no doubt there will be some critics who dismiss the new certification as another way for someone to make a buck. In this case, the Thomson Corp., is developing the exam. The test will cost $450 a pop for the executive who has everything — or every degree, at least.

New Standards for B-Schools

Speaking of MBAs: it may have just gotten easier to get one. According to the The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) approved new accreditation standards for B-schools during its annual meeting last Friday.

Under the new rules, a B-school can get accredited even if it has fewer full-time Ph.D. instructors than the AACSB’s current requirement of 75 percent of faculty. At the same time, schools will be required to prove more rigorously what students have learned.

Instead of prescribing how many doctorally trained professors a business school must have, reports the Chronicle, the new standards require schools to prove that at least three-quarters of the program is taught by faculty members who actively participate in students’ education. By that measure, a part-time instructor who advises students outside the class and serves on committees could qualify as a “participating” faculty member; an adjunct professor who just shows up to teach a class would not have that distinction.

Business schools will be reviewed every 5 years instead of every 10, says the Chronicle, but the new evaluation has 21 standards instead of 41.

Finally, B-schools will have to set goals for what they want their students to learn, and create metrics to gauge a program’s success. Apparently, the AACSB is an easy grader; it’s left each institution to decide what those goals should be — and how they should be measured.

CFOs on the Move

Ford Motor Co. vice chairman and CFO Allan Gilmour will be honored in Philadelphia during this week’s gay-themed Equality Forum, formerly known as PrideFest. Gilmour, who is openly gay, will receive the International Business Leadership Award at a dinner on Saturday. The award is an example of efforts to highlight gays in the mainstream.

Gilmour is a Ford veteran who retired from the finance chief post in 1995. He was then coaxed out of retirement last year to help the auto maker’s turnaround effort. Malcolm Lazin, Equality Forum’s executive director, said Gilmour “distinguishes himself by being open about his sexual orientation and embodies the best of workplace diversity.”

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