M.B.A. programs have long been the bread and butter for local business schools.

That’s changing as local schools are adding non-M.B.A. specialty master degree programs to meet demand from companies for more specialized managerial and data analysis skills.

The trend is reflected in the Business Journal’s coverage of higher education this week, which adds an inaugural list of business schools offering specialized master degree programs. Three other annual lists of higher education institutions serving Los Angeles County – M.B.A. programs, the largest colleges and universities and largest community colleges – remain part of our coverage (see lists on pages 10, 18, 24 and 26).

Master of Science degree programs have proliferated at business schools over the last five years. They are more narrowly focused on specific fields than the relatively broad-based curriculum for Master of Business Administration – or M.B.A. – programs. The most common M.S. programs now are in data analytics, applied finance, global business and supply chain management.

The M.S. programs tend to be shorter – one year versus two years for the typical M.B.A. – and, as a result, less expensive. They also appear to be in high demand at companies that now put a premium on data analytics and other specific skill sets.

A recent survey by the Reston, Va.-based nonprofit Graduate Management Admission Council, which oversees the GMAT test that’s widely used by graduate business programs as a key measure of applicants, found that 52 percent of companies planned to hire Master of Data Analytics graduates this year.

That’s up from 35 percent last year, and local business schools have rushed to capitalize on the trend.

Twelve business schools made it onto this week’s inaugural list of Master of Science degree programs, which is ranked by number of graduates this year.

The list is led by the USC Marshall School of Business, which has 1,075 full-time students enrolled in seven Master of Science degree programs, which combined for 664 graduates this past spring.

The Marshall School started offering M.S. programs in accounting and business taxation 10 years ago, but they remained a minor focus for several years, according to Rex Kovacevich, assistant vice dean for graduate programs.

But rising demand from students, companies and even faculty members writing letters of recommendation for students to attend M.S. programs at other schools prompted the Marshall School to ramp up its offerings, Kovacevich said. First came global supply management in 2013, then four more in 2014 on the way to the current total of seven.


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