At Stanford, business and education go hand in hand

Stanford College of Business

Historically, business schools have focused on making a profit. At Stanford, a unique program challenges this idea. The Joint Master / MBA in Education and Business Administration is a collaboration between the Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the Graduate School of Business (GSB) – and it is an “unlikely” collaboration that requires two very different fields to join forces. and thrive.

Michael Kirst, an honorary professor at GSE and a former professor (courtesy) at Stanford GSB, led the launch of the program in 1969. He continued to lead it for more than 30 years. In an interview with Stanford GSE News, he followed the development of the program.

“The story of this program is truly a story of perseverance and change,” Kirst said. “It took a lot of will on the part of both schools to make it happen in the first place – and to make changes with the development of the district and with the development of students’ interests. And it’s still thriving. “


The joint program allows students to complete both a master’s and an MBA in just two years. Students take a full course at both GSB and GSE, in addition to a summer internship or self-study.

At first glance, business schools have many different values ​​than educational schools. Business students are trained to maximize profits and shareholder value, while education students are trained to focus on social responsibility and civic leadership.

“There’s usually not much affinity and interaction between education and business schools,” says Kirst. “Ed schools often have reservations about business and its motives for profit, and business schools have reservations about the quality of educational schools. Traditionally, there have not been very close ties between the two, and in general this is still the case. “

When the joint program began, Stanford GSB had an ambitious vision. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, then-GSB Dean Arjay Miller wanted to shift education to B-School to focus on both social responsibility and corporate interests. His decision? Start a public administration program at GSB. A strong partnership with the educational school fits in with where they are [GSB] they were going, ”says Kirst. “And building a program with the business school really expanded what we were able to provide on our own.”

When the joint educational program officially started, it was originally created as a master’s degree in educational administration (MEA) before being changed to a joint master’s / MBA program. The switch was a significant change that helped graduates look more attractive to potential employers in education, from charter schools to start-ups.

“If [employers] he could find someone with an MBA and a master’s degree in education, that was gold, ”says Kirst.

With all the differences between business and education, it seems that Stanford has finally managed to find some common ground.

“Business and education are different but interconnected, and life in both has allowed me to see that there are solutions that are not unique to any sector,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, who graduated from the program in 1995 and is now CEO. of Futuro Health, he says. “If you are going to restructure education, you need to be able to overcome these two worlds.”

This is a type of connecting two worlds that is not very common in many schools. In fact, according to GSE Honorary Professor Deborah Stipek, that’s exactly what Stanford, Stanford, is doing.

“One thing I’ve always experienced at Stanford is the culture of collaboration between different schools and departments,” said Stipeck, who was also dean of GSE from 2001 to 2014. “I think that’s one of the reasons Stanford can do it where not many other universities would do – even if they tried, and most did not.

Sources: Stanford Graduate School of Education, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Next page: How to spend your first year in business school.

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