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School of Business phases out low enrollment majors, rebrands concentrations into new majors

The+new+majors+%E2%80%94+which+were+approved+by+the+New+York+State+Education+Department+in+Fall+2023+%E2%80%94+are+all+areas+of+focus+that+could+previously+be+declared+as+concentrations+within+the+business+administration+major+which+is+now+being+sunsetted.+This+means+that+any+students+currently+enrolled+in+the+major+may+choose+to+finish+it%2C+but+the+major+will+no+longer+be+offered+to+incoming+students.
Ray Milburn
The new majors — which were approved by the New York State Education Department in Fall 2023 — are all areas of focus that could previously be declared as concentrations within the business administration major which is now being sunsetted. This means that any students currently enrolled in the major may choose to finish it, but the major will no longer be offered to incoming students.

Beginning Fall 2024, the Ithaca College School of Business will be offering five new majors: Bachelor of Science in business analytics, B.S. in finance, B.S. in marketing, B.S. in sports management and B.S. in strategic leadership. The change comes as an effort to simplify the school’s previous major system, which was still on the three-credit model that the college has been moving away from.

The new majors — which were approved by the New York State Education Department in Fall 2023 — are all areas of focus that could previously be declared as concentrations within the business administration major which is now being sunsetted. This means that any students currently enrolled in the major may choose to finish it, but the major will no longer be offered to incoming students. The same process will be applied to majors that have only a small number of students enrolled in them, including the international business, corporate accounting and sport marketing concentrations.

Michael Johnson-Cramer, dean of the School of Business, said the change is more of a natural progression than people think.

“What we had to do was essentially propose the new degree titles as completely new programs, which is why I think then the word got around that there were all these new programs, but it [integrates] very naturally,” Johnson-Cramer said.

Johnson-Cramer said the idea for the change came from a desire to update the current system, in order to make things simpler for students once they begin searching for jobs.

“We had a very convoluted structure that, I think if I had to dig into the history of it, traces back multiple deans and multiple generations,” Johnson-Cramer said. “The language of how we were expecting students to describe themselves had gotten out of alignment with what the marketplace expects them to say. So the big reason was to simplify things.”

Johnson-Cramer also said the new system will look different for incoming and current students based on their catalog year. He said advisors in the School of Business have also been working with rising sophomores and juniors to figure out if they want to continue with their current requirements or switch to the new requirement system, depending on what works best for them.

“Seniors just stay with the original requirements from their catalog year, and all of the first years will be under the new curriculum,” Johnson-Cramer said. “And we’ve actually worked with the other two classes, the rising sophomores and rising juniors, to make a good decision. We made an overall commitment that nothing we did as part of this curriculum review would hurt anybody.”

Johnson-Cramer also said that while nothing is yet official, he is looking into ways to implement more minors into the School of Business in addition to the seven that are currently being offered, not including pre-MBA. He said these minors will hopefully allow students from other schools, like the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Roy H. Park School of Communications, to expand their knowledge on the business side of their field.

“It might not look like a typical business administration minor, it might be something more specific and more experiential which will be cool,” Johnson-Cramer said. “We’ll see what comes out of that process.”

For incoming students who are unsure of which major to choose, the Business Pathways program offers a chance for them to decide what aspects of business appeal to their interests. With the new majors, students will have a broader selection to choose from.

Dawn Kline, associate dean of the School of Business, works as the main coordinator for the Business Pathways program. She said the program is a good way to help integrate students into the School of Business, no matter what major they decide to pursue.

“Students who are interested in business can still come in, start taking the business core, join professional clubs, start taking business classes and then decide what they want their focus to be,” Kline said.

Kline also said the changes will not only make it easier for current students to explain their academic focus to future employers, they will also make the new system easier to explain to potential incoming students.

“I think it will be easier for us to talk with prospective students and their families, and for tour guides to talk about the School of Business offerings by just saying we have these majors,” Kline said. “It will really highlight the specializations that were already in place but buried a little bit.”

As for faculty, Kline said that while these changes will make a big difference for students, professors in the School of Business will not be seeing any new additions to their workloads.

“We’ve made a couple of hires, but there are no new positions,” Kline said. “We’ve had a couple of faculty retire or move on to other institutions, so we’ve been able to hire replacements, but it’s essentially just repackaging what we currently offer.”

Despite the changes being made for the sake of clarity, some students still have reservations about the change. One of these students is first-year student Angel Pandey, whose international business studies major has been sunsetted.

Pandey said the major is what drew her to the School of Business in the first place when she was deciding between pursuing public relations at the Park School and pursuing public relations at the School of Business.

“I came across the international business studies major, and I think it fits really well with what I wanted, since I wanted a bit of global perspective and a bit of cultural exposure,” Pandey said. “I thought this program would provide me with opportunities for cultural, emotional understanding through language courses, since one of the requirements is taking six credits in a foreign language.”

Pandey said she is unsure if the new system will be simpler to navigate than the old one.

“Honestly, I think the concentration system was better, because it was easier for us to decide,” Pandey said. “I haven’t really talked to a lot of students, but I know some of my friends are still struggling with declaring a concentration.”

Pandey also said she worries that the new system will mean students will be boxed into one focus as soon as they enter the School of Business, rather than having more time to decide what their concentration will be.

“With this system, I think students have to pick what kind of major they want to go with right away,” Pandey said. “Like, if you want to apply to the accounting major, you have to straight up apply to accounting. But before that, we could just apply to the School of Business and later declare our concentration.”

Despite these reservations, Johnson-Cramer said the new system and new majors will benefit students by allowing them to focus on their desired area of study earlier in their college career than was previously allowed, which will make their time at the college more beneficial overall.

“I think the old structure really pushed some things back so that senior year was full of cool stuff, and there were some pretty long periods where you were taking a lot of requirements,” Johnson-Cramer said. “There’s been a real sort of rethinking, and I really like where we ended up in terms of future majors and also the overall program.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article mentioned that international business, corporate accounting and sport marketing were majors. This has been corrected to reflect that international business, corporate accounting and sport marketing were concentrations, not majors.

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Ray Milburn
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    Michael Johnson-CramerApr 3, 2024 at 3:05 pm

    Nice story, Taylor. One clarification… Students entering in Fall 2024 will also be able to major in our excellent BS in Accounting program. It was always a major not a concentration, so the rebranding (as you called it) didn’t affect it. In fact, we believe that Accounting is the School’s oldest major, and it leads to amazing careers in every area of business. We’re excited to welcome a cohort of aspiring accountants in Fall 2024! Thanks.

    PS There’s a difference between the Accounting major and the “Business Administration major with a concentration in Corporate Accounting”, which the article mentions. If that seems quirky, then you see exactly why we made some changes.

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