MSiM: Giving non-business grads the business

MSiM class presentation Zoom meeting image

People who earned an undergraduate degree in a field other than business have traditionally had few options to get a post-graduate business education. They could return to school to earn another degree in a business major. Or, they could earn a graduate degree – the Master of Business Administration – either through a full-time or part-time program.

But in the fall of 2020, the Farmer School of Business debuted a new program – the Master of Science in Business Management, a program specifically designed for non-business majors like Bea Newberry, a 2020 American studies graduate with an entrepreneurship minor. “I still had that itch for the hard skills of business. How could I get that, especially during a time where I'm just starting my career?” she said. “I got an email from the MSM program directors, a very friendly one that said, ‘Hey, we see you're interested in the MBA, but we have this other program.’  They let me know that it actually met my needs a lot better, even if that biggest need was the fact that it was going to be people my age and people without a business background.”

Eric Sampsel graduated from Ohio State in 2018 with a degree in political science and government. He didn’t know much about Miami or the Farmer School – but his brother Reed, a psychology and marketing major in Oxford, certainly did. “While I was looking for grad schools, he had mentioned that he had seen some materials about the MSiM, and after connecting with the program managers, I thought it'd be a really great fit for me to continue my education.”

It was a bit of pandemic serendipity that brought 2020 Miami kinesiology graduate Olivia Hajjar to the MSiM program. “I was going through job interviews last year, and the day that I found out that all of my interviews were canceled was the same day that MSiM sent me their first email saying, ‘Check out the MSiM program. It has a lot to offer.’ And so I thought, ‘This is too coincidental to not look into.’”

The program is divided into three parts:

  • The first and largest part is the preparation component, where students build a foundation of knowledge of the functional areas of business through classes in game theory, accounting, information systems and analytics, supply chain, marketing, finance, and management.
  • The practice component is where students facilitate the application of the foundational knowledge from the core classes via fast paced immersion in business analytics, digital branding and marketing, creativity, leadership, ethical thinking and team effectiveness. 
  • Finally, in the execution component, the students spend the last six weeks of the program doing a consulting capstone project for a real-life client.

“I really didn't know like what I was getting myself into, but from the academic curriculum to the professional development and all the guidance I got on establishing where I needed to go in my career, it was a really wonderful year and a really great opportunity,” Sampsel remarked. “Especially with the COVID year, it was the perfect time to step away.”

“While I had minimal business experience through my entrepreneurship minor, it still felt like I was getting a high level overview of a lot of business topics throughout the year. So I ended up coming out with so many different skills that I never thought I would have going in,” Hajjar said. “We even played around with some coding software platforms that I never thought that I would ever learn how to use. So it was really great to be able to add that to my resume.”

The consulting project client was, a technology platform that delivers leadership and team coaching insights using automated "nudges" in the flow of work through integration with organizations' existing platforms. The class was tasked with delivering research and recommendations on several areas where Cloverleaf was interested in better understanding the market, including creating a taxonomy of soft and hard skills and understanding how to better integrate with performance management platforms.

“There were three teams, and I was on team three. What we did throughout the process was gather as many insights as we could from talking to people. So we were doing in-depth interviews, and we sent out surveys in order to make an informed recommendation for Cloverleaf. We recommended that they incorporate more of a leadership opportunity within their platform,” Hajjar recalled.

“We did a lot of research, secondary and primary, into how that the company could provide more value to their customers, increase revenue and cut costs,” Sampsel said. “There was a lot thrown at us, so we were awfully busy, but I think all three groups brought something different to the table and delivered something that was really valuable to the client.”

Darrin Murriner, CEO and co-founder of, said working with the students was a great experience. “Cloverleaf gave the teams of students a difficult assignment to investigate the market for some product extensions and a clear pathway to commercialization. The student teams provided an exceptional end product that we are and will continue to incorporate as we build out our product strategy over the next 1-2 years. The faculty advisors provided incredible oversight and day-to-day support and the students’ talent was on full display. We would gladly work with the school, the program, and its students again.”

Now with the inaugural year of the program behind them, the students are taking their newly-learned skills for a spin in the working world. “I think that I have learned material to bring to my boss, but not in a way that you're trying to teach in a lunch-and-learn, or saying ‘Let me take over all the finances,’” Newberry said. “It's sitting in a meeting and saying, ‘I understand a lot more of this now.’ That's the confidence that you can feel from doing this program.”

“I'm excited to see where it supplements my career. I know that going in, I'm probably going to learn even more and in an entry-level position in whatever industry I end up going into, but I've just seen how my undergraduate degree has come in handy in times that I never thought it would. So I'm very excited to see how all of this business knowledge will help me forge my future in consulting, which is what I'd like to go into,” Hajjar remarked. “Having Cloverleaf specifically as a consulting project and being able to go in with that experience is great.”