Vinicius Rosario, a graduate student in Missouri State University's MBA program, prepares to take notes Friday while working a shift in the program's office at Glass Hall. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

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Vinicius Rosario has mixed feelings about an upcoming class in international financial analysis.

On one hand, the graduate student is excited to gain knowledge that will boost a number of his career options. On the other hand, he knows the class will be no cake walk. 

“When you talk about finance across the globe, there is different legislation, different bureaucracy about countries and how their companies report inventory,” Rosario said. “I know it’s going to be a challenge.” 

The class is part of a new graduate program that places a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) focus on a master’s of business administration at Missouri State University. 

Most of the obstacles to offering the new degree have been cleared. Under development for about two years and approved by the Missouri State University Board of Governors in January, it last month received final approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, as well as the Higher Learning Commission. 

Elizabeth Rozell

Associate Dean Elizabeth Rozell, director of the MBA program at MSU, said demand for this pairing is high across the nation, and Missouri State is the first public institution in the state to offer it.

Rozell said it equips traditional STEM students with an additional component that emphasizes their marketability, and makes them attractive candidates in the private sector.

“Those students are already familiar with science, engineering, tech and math concepts, and they are comfortable in that space,” Rozell said. “With this, they are exposed to current marketing strategies, management and leadership principles, some accounting, some finance. They get exposed to general business concepts that core STEM majors don’t have.” 

MBA would help STEM scholars in America's boardrooms

Ultimately, the degree would help someone with a science background better ascend corporate ladders into management positions, Rozell said.

“Maybe someone who is a practicing engineer for several years wants to manage a group of engineers, they would need an MBA background or principles from such a program to be able to know how to do it,” Rozell said.

Rosario said it opens up a world of opportunities for his future. Before the program, he didn’t have a plan for a career after graduation. But from alternative power to artificial intelligence, he has seen technology fields open up more and more.

The master's of business administration program at Missouri State Univeristy operates in Glass Hall. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

Another key aspect deals with the country’s interest in boosting STEM-related careers. A designation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security allows international students extensions on student visas — students can get a 24-month extension of an F-1 student visa for practical training after graduation. Final approval from the department for MSU is pending. 

STEM MBA caught in national political debates

The federal department’s Optional Practical Training program adds a facet to the nation’s immigration debate. It was established as a way to attract international students and help strengthen the U.S. economy and national security. 

Congressional Republicans have criticized the Department of Homeland Security, blaming it for how it handles immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was impeached in April by the House, but the Senate dismissed the charges — largely along party lines, in both cases. 

About 50 of Missouri State University’s 450 students in the MBA program have shown interest, Rozell said. That number, posted before any marketing of the program, demonstrates its demand, she said. 

Rosario said that extension will lead to a better reception from potential employers, who will know that he has a much more accommodating visa. But it is also a big deal to the native of Sao Paolo, Brazil. 

“It’s a huge deal for us international students and our employers,” Rosario said. “They know they can count on us for three years without any visa requirement or sponsorship … I’ll be able to extend my stay.”

Rozell anticipates that Missouri State University will again be a trailblazer, like she said the school was in 2012 when it offered its MBA program fully online. 

“Now, that is a really crowded space. Lots of schools have done that,” Rozell said. “I’m hoping that is what is going to happen with our STEM MBA, because we’re early. I expect that we’ll have even more Missouri schools try to do this.”


Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or jhadsall@hauxeda.com. More by Joe Hadsall