Stanford B-School Launches Computer Science Program

Photograph by Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

For B-school applicants who want to indulge their inner geek—or the other way around—Stanford University has just announced a joint degree program that pairs a standard-issue MBA with an MS in computer science.

The program, which will get underway in 2014, is designed for applicants with an undergraduate degree or a work background in computer science or quantitative subjects such as engineering or mathematics. It will prepare graduates to start their own companies and for careers in a wide range of industries and roles that require in-depth knowledge of technology.

Madhav Rajan, a senior associate dean at the B-school, said the idea for the program came from students, many of whom have been taking a computer science course, CS106A, as they prepare to launch their own companies or pursue careers in technology. “We were finding that a lot of our MBAs realized they need to know computer science if they want to work in technology companies,” Rajan says. “Understanding technology at more than a superficial level is more of a critical skill now.”

Getting into the program won’t be easy. Applicants must be accepted to both the MBA program at Stanford Graduate School of Business, which admitted only 7 percent of applicants last year, and the MS in computer science at the Stanford School of Engineering, where the admit rate was 15 percent. That means applicants must take the GMAT for the B-school and the GRE for the engineering school.

It won’t be cheap, either. Barbara Buell, a spokesperson for the business school, says tuition and fees for the full three-year program—one year less than it would take to earn the two degrees back to back—will total about $165,000.

Completion of the joint program requires a combined total of 129 academic units, including 84 at the business school and 45 in the computer science department. Twenty-one of the 45 units in computer science must be in one of 10 specializations, which include areas such as artificial intelligence, computer and network security, and human-computer interaction.

Students will spend one year in the B-school, one year at the engineering school, and one year at both, and they will have opportunities to work two summer internships.

Rajan says the size of the program has not been determined. Current business students will be allowed to apply to the engineering school and take part in the joint program if admitted. The deadline for applying to the engineering school for fall 2014 admission is Dec. 10. The B-school application deadlines are Oct. 2, Jan. 8, and April 2.

MBA students can now enroll in a number of joint degree programs at Stanford, including those in law, medicine, and education. If you do manage to get into the computer science program ,you won’t be alone: About one in six MBA students now pursue joint degrees.

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