Major Development

Former business concentrations officially become majors

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Gerald Hubbard Smalls, associate professor of accounting, says the new majors will make it easier for students to get hired.

The pathway leading students from USC Upstate to fulfilling careers in business recently got a lot wider.

At the start of the fall 2020 semester, the university’s George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics (JCBE) introduced six new majors: accounting; economics/finance; entrepreneurship and innovation; logistics and supply chain management; management; and marketing. These majors previously were offered only as concentrations.

It’s a change that has been brewing for the past few years as USC Upstate and JCBE leaders have sought to respond to requests to not only expand the 20-year-old business school’s offerings, but to determine the next stage in its growth and development.

“We previously offered one degree—a Bachelor of Science in business administration,” says Mohamed Djerdjouri, dean of JCBE. “Within that degree we had six concentrations. These concentrations didn’t appear on your diploma. If employers wanted to know more about you, they’d have to dig into your transcript. That’s not ideal for job candidates or companies.”

“I really commend the students who reached out to us,” Djerdjouri adds. “I remember one student in particular who sent me a letter. He said, ‘Essentially, I’m an accounting major and no one knows it.’ This change has many positives. The impact is going to be huge. It’s going to allow us to do so much more.”

Djerdjouri said the approval process for the separate majors took about a year. December 2020 graduates are the first to earn the new degrees. The expansion had no impact on tuition costs, led to no JCBE faculty or administration changes and did not alter curricular requirements, officials say.

“We are thrilled about this,” says Donette Stewart, USC Upstate’s vice chancellor for enrollment services. “It gives students an opportunity to have a major in a specialty that best suits their career aspirations and makes them even more attractive to businesses that are looking for employees with specialized skills and abilities.”

Stewart praises Djerdouri for moving the project forward, adding that it could be the dean’s “single most important contribution to the university.”

“This sets our business college apart,” she says. “It makes us more competitive with other universities across the state and makes us more attractive to students who are serious about pursuing exciting, dynamic careers in business … And to be able to provide these majors in a region that is experiencing significant economic and population growth is truly exciting.”

Gerald Hubbard Smalls, associate professor of accounting at the JCBE, said he is confident the new majors will help the college recruit more students. He is particularly enthusiastic about what it means for the college’s ability to innovate and set students on a path to successful, rewarding careers.

“I think this helps us on the front end with recruitment, but it especially helps us on the back end, when we’re working with recruiters to get our students hired,” Smalls says. “From a teaching standpoint, we’ll be able to offer more. The companies we work with really like our students. This will ease the vetting process because they already know they’re getting an employee who is qualified to step into the job they’re needed for.”

According to Djerdjouri, JCBE faculty members are already working to deepen the academic experience for students. That work includes the development of new concentrations within each major.

He says students could also strategically select their courses to earn dual degrees, making them even more attractive to potential employers.

“There are so many opportunities for students to focus on one or more areas they’re interested in or have an aptitude for,” says Brian Brady, a JCBE instructor and director of the college’s new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI).

The new majors will have a direct impact on CEI, Brady says, as the center will encourage students to pursue not only the entrepreneurship and innovation major and minor, but also other programs available through JCBE aimed at creating successful entrepreneurs and business leaders for the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

“I think this really helps to make (students) more marketable in their job search,” he says. “For instance, I might have a student majoring in marketing and they could have a concentration in social media, which is growing exponentially. It really makes us responsive to the needs of our students and the demands of the job market. It also strengthens our connection to the community and raises the profiles of both the Upstate and the JCBE.”

Among the benefits of the new degrees:

  • Students will be better able to market themselves in specific career paths.
  • Student diplomas will show their major where their concentration did not appear previously.
  • JCBE will develop specializations within majors. For example, the logistics and supply chain management major could have a distribution track and a procurement track, or the marketing major could have a social media marketing concentration.
  • An improvement in the recruitment of students focused on a specific career path.
  • Students will be able to earn dual majors within the business college.
  • Business students will be able to earn minors within the business college.
  • JCBE can refine and improve the focus of each major’s curriculum, improving its relevance and rigor to match students’ career interests.

“The ability to earn a double major in the business world is amazing for students and employers, and very unique for our region and state,” Stewart says. “Another thing I love about JCBE is that it has done a tremendous job throughout the years of hiring professors and instructors who have had successful careers in the ‘real world.’ You’re learning from someone who has done it. It really breathes life into what you’re learning in the textbook.”

B.S. in Business Administration, Accounting

Prepares individuals to practice the profession of accounting and to perform related business functions. Includes instruction in accounting principles and theory, financial accounting, managerial accounting, cost accounting, budget control, tax accounting, legal aspects of accounting, auditing, reporting procedures, statement analysis, planning and consulting, business information systems, accounting research methods, professional standards and ethics, etc.

B.S. in Business Administration, Economics/Finance

Focuses on the application of economic principles to the analysis of the organization and operation of business enterprises. Includes instruction in monetary theory, banking and financial systems, theory of competition, pricing theory, wage and salary/incentive theory, analysis of markets and applications of econometrics and quantitative methods to the study of particular businesses and business problems.

B.S. in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

A program that generally prepares individuals to perform development, marketing and management functions associated with owning and operating a business.

B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing

A program that generally prepares individuals to undertake and manage the process of developing consumer audiences and moving products from producers to consumers. Includes instruction in buyer behavior and dynamics, principle of marketing research, demand analysis, cost-volume and profit relationships, pricing theory, marketing campaign and strategic planning, market segments, advertising methods, sales operations and management, consumer relations, retailing, and applications to specific products and markets.

B.S. in Business Administration, Management

A program that generally prepares individuals to plan, organize, direct, and control the functions and processes of a firm or organization. Includes instruction in management theory, human resources management and behavior, accounting and other quantitative methods, purchasing and logistics, organization and production, marketing and business decision-making.

B.S. in Business Administration, Supply Chain and Logistics

A program that prepares individuals to manage and coordinate all logistical functions in an enterprise ranging from acquisitions to receiving and handling, through internal allocation of resources to operations units, to the handling and delivery of output. Includes instruction in acquisitions and purchasing, inventory control, storage and handling, just-in-time manufacturing, logistics planning, shipping and delivery management, etc.