The “MBV” at USC’s Marshall School of Business helps troops transition into civilian life and helps bridge the gap between battlefield and boardroom.
California-based Marshall is one of several US business schools targeting military veterans. A survey of 22,000 US students by educational network Military MBA found the percentage of military leaders enrolled in MBA programs nearly doubled over two years to 8%.
Jana Stern, associate director of admissions at the W.P Carey School of Business, said: “In the wake of recent government spending cuts we have seen members from all branches and levels of military service turn to higher education.”
Military budget cuts and the withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan will push 1.5 million service members to enter the civilian workforce through to 2019, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. An MBA can make the transition easier.
Jason Perocho, a former US Navy pilot on the MBA at Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, said the program has been “invaluable”. “An MBA allows an individual with a military background to translate their leadership skills into effective tools of management,” he said.
Nicole Hartings, director of graduate student engagement at W.P Carey, said MBA programs help veterans to communicate transferable skills in a way that civilian employers understand.
Since 2001, more than 200,000 more US veterans are looking for a job, with last year’s unemployment rate for American veterans at 4.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Isser Gallogly, assistant dean of MBA admissions at NYU Stern, said: “Military veterans typically bring strong interpersonal skills, discipline, focus, and the ability to solve problems in high-pressure situations. These are all skills which are tremendously valuable to any future career.”
Government legislation known as the G.I Bill has made it easier for veterans to obtain MBA degrees by providing financial support for education. The G.I Bill has provided financial support to 773,000 veterans and their families, amounting to more than $20 billion in funding, according to data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Online programs are attracting the most veterans. Veterans and members of the US military make up 25% of candidates enrolled in UNC’s online MBA courses. At Indiana University, they account for 15% to 20% of each graduating online class.
Many US business schools have military and veterans’ clubs. MIT’s Sloan School of Management and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management both run Veterans Associations.
Graduates often share their experiences of business school and that can spur other veterans to enrol, said Stacey Rudnick, director of MBA career management at McCombs School of Business in Texas. About 8% of the business school’s full-time MBA class come from the military.
David Simmons, MBA admissions director at the UK’s Cranfield School of Management, said peer learning is a key part of the MBA experience. Cranfield runs the Executive MBA (Defence), which is designed for military officers, civil service personnel and defence industry executives.
Dan Coben, assistant director of the graduate career centre at W.P Carey, said MBA graduates with military backgrounds are often in demand for project management and supply chain management roles, as well as in the financial services industry.
There are ultimately a wide range of careers available. Sara Neher, dean of admissions at Virginia’s Darden School, said: “We have military alumni in technology, operations, general management, consulting and finance – including at JP Morgan, McKinsey and Amazon.”
About 90 veterans have graduated from the MBV program since Marshall launched it two years ago. The one-year course consists of two semesters, with all-day classes held every other Friday and Saturday. It costs $49,700.