A few weeks after graduating from UNLV, Philip Son is busy tuning up his car for the 1,500-mile trek from Las Vegas to Missouri. Son's Midwest move is thanks to a path opened up by his dual degree — a doctorate in dental medicine and a master’s in business administration.
He begins his career running a practice for a dentist who owns several locations, with the goal of having multiple dental offices of his own one day.
Though his path seems clear now, it wasn’t always that way. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do until my third year in college. I took some time off to do what I am passionate about, serving others in the Army Reserve,” Son said.
When he returned to UNLV, he shadowed an oral surgeon, which opened his eyes to other opportunities in the medical world. As he worked toward a career in dentistry, he realized he wanted to learn more than how to fix teeth; he was interested in learning how to run a business, too.
“I am very ambitious. As much as I want to care for patients, I also want to be an entrepreneur and eventually have my own practice with multiple dental offices,” Son said. “In order for my dream to come true, I needed to learn the fundamentals of business.”
Dual degrees provide an opportunity for students to complete two degrees at one time in subject areas that complement each other.
Two at a time
As the world awakens from the pandemic, the burst of activity happening in the UNLV MBA Programs is no accident. In just the last month, three new interdisciplinary programs have been added to the dual programs offering which will launch this fall in the areas of medicine, computer science, and civil and environmental programs. These programs are in addition to the five existing dual degrees in dentistry, law, hotel administration, management information systems, and quantitative finance. Students still have the option to choose from the general MBA or any of the six industry concentrated MBAs.
“Creativity is increased by diversity, and diversity is increased with an interdisciplinary background and inclusive teaching,” said Anjala Krishen, director of the UNLV MBA Programs and longtime marketing professor in the Lee Business School. “There are no accidents here. Following extensive research, which began in February 2020, these additional dual degree programs were initiated to increase the diversity — cognitive, ethnic, cultural, disciplinary, and so on — of our student base, and thereby increase creativity and motivation.”
Krishen has had several research papers published over the last decade on the topic. In 2013, she published work on contagious motivation in the classroom, and recently built on this work to show that creativity leads to motivation. As a precursor to creativity, her recent article in Forbes makes the case that as diversity increases, creativity increases.
The new dual programs are not the only changes that are happening in a program that has been ranked in the top 100 for part-time MBA programs by U.S. News and World Report over the last two years. Last spring, the program introduced a hybrid format that allows students to experience classes both online and in person.
"Providing a high level of flexibility and a program that embraces creativity and diversity of both our students and our curriculum are intentional decisions for our evolving MBA program,” said Gerry Sanders, dean of Lee Business School. “As professionals continue to seek to level-up in their careers, it’s ideal that we partner with other schools on campus to add a business acumen to the technical education that will ultimately allow our students to successfully reach their goals.”
The MBA Programs also recently introduced its newly formed advisory board, made up of business leaders in the Las Vegas community and beyond to advise program committees.
This fall will see the inaugural class of the Director’s MBA Advisory Board Mentoring Academy, which connects students directly to members of the board in a one-on-one mentor capacity. The academy will provide opportunities for MBA students to get the most out of their time at UNLV.
Krishen already has plans for additional dual degree offerings, face-to-face events to encourage cross-collaboration and networking with business leaders, and a continuous focus on the breadth and depth of the program offerings.
In the meantime, Son and his wife will be settling into their new life in the Midwest.
“My mentors have shared that they wished they had their MBA. It took them five or six years into their career as a dentist before they had the opportunity to learn about the business side of dentistry,” Son said. “Now that I have completed my MBA I feel very equipped to understand balance sheets and all of the things that come with running your own business.”