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In his State of the School address at last fall’s reunion, Dean Nohria laid out his vision for HBS organized in what we can call the Five I’s: curriculum innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion (making the HBS experience more of a level playing field for women and ethnic minorities), and integration with the University.

In working on this last goal, HBS will be building on past accomplishments, for an extensive network of relationships already exists between the School and other parts of the University. At any one time, many HBS professors are collaborating with professors from other graduate schools on research in interdisciplinary fields. They are also teaching courses that attract the interest of graduate students from other schools. And the Harvard Innovation Lab that HBS will fund, to be housed in the former WGBH building on Western Avenue, will serve all of Harvard University, both graduate students and undergrads. But the most substantial examples of integration with the University are HBS’s joint-degree programs.

HBS offers students five joint-degree programs in collaboration with four different graduate schools. The four-year JD/MBA with the Harvard Law School was set up in 1969. The five-year MD/MBA with the Harvard Medical School was begun in 2005. The MBA/MPP (Master of Public Policy) and MBA/MPA-ID (Master of Public Administration, International Development) are both three-year programs with the Harvard Kennedy School that were begun in 2007. And the five-year DMD/MBA with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine began in 2009.

I was surprised to have found some evidence that already in the 1930s, HBS was offering a joint degree (or a joint course of study) with the Harvard Engineering School. At least, I assume that is what was referred to when the 1931–32 HBS yearbook listed three students (with their photos) who were “taking the Five-Year Combined Program in Engineering and Business Administration.” The 1932–33 yearbook listed nine such men; the 1933–34 yearbook, eight. After no one being named in the 1934–35 yearbook, the next two yearbooks listed only one person each. Apparently the program was abandoned due to lack of interest. (Later, in 1940, according to Jeff Cruikshank’s A Delicate Experiment, a history of HBS from 1908 to 1945, Professor George P. Baker “successfully argued that the School should collaborate with Harvard’s engineering department to offer a short-lived ‘Master in Engineering Administration’ degree program, graduates of which would be trained ‘for work in the air transport industry.’”)

When Charles Eliot became president of Harvard University in 1869, it had five graduate schools: Medicine, Divinity, Law, Engineering, and Dentistry. Over the years, HBS has offered joint degree programs (or joint courses of study) with four of those schools. Do you suppose an MDiv/MBA is in the offing?

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