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Specialty degrees are a fast-growing segment of graduate business education, targeting undergraduates who lack the academic prerequisites or work experience (or both) typically required for a traditional master of business administration program.

The latest example is a new master of management in finance, offered by McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal. The 12-month program is aimed at undergraduates who have a degree in science, arts, engineering or other disciplines, who have an affinity for numbers and are contemplating a career in banking or other branches of the financial services industry.

"We toyed with various formats and then stumbled on the idea to have a short master's for people who most likely have a non-business background, like engineering," says Jan Ericsson, an associate professor of finance and a co-developer of the new degree with Adolfo De Motta, also an associate professor of finance at Desautels.

Prof. Ericsson says the master program is a way for non-business students eyeing a career in finance to short-circuit their entry into the field, though likely at a lower level than if they had entered with several years of past work experience and an MBA.

May 1 is the deadline for applications to the program, approved last month by the Quebec government. The school says interest is already running high. Prof. Ericsson says Desautels has received about 70 applications in the past two weeks for an expected first cohort of about 25 students who begin the program this summer.

"It seems like we have struck a nerve with the idea of this program for people who don't already have a background in finance," says Prof. Ericsson.

Hands-on experience is a key feature of the program, with students expected to work as analysts at Desautels Capital Management Inc., a student-run investment management firm (Prof. Ericsson is the academic director) that manages more than $3.5-million in equity and fixed income for external investors.

Employment report adds to a school's profile

The postgraduation employment track record of a business school is one tool for prospective MBA students to evaluate when they're deciding where to study. The size of a school, its mix of domestic and international students and its curriculum focus all factor into a decision on where to go for a graduate degree.

The University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, with a 2015 class of 350, issued its postgraduation employment report this week (adding to reports from several other schools released in January).

Of full-time graduates at Rotman, 76 per cent who were seeking jobs found employment within three months after earning their degree, with 85 per cent of the class doing so by six months. The mean base salary was $88,385, with signing bonuses between $3,000 and $60,000.

Recognitions, rankings and other bragging rights

– In June, the University of Manitoba's Asper School of Business in Winnipeg will honour Prem Watsa, chairman and chief executive officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., as the 2016 recipient of the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award. Winners typically spend time with business students at several events tied to the annual award, including an informal question-and-answer session on the life of an entrepreneur.

– Alain Verbeke, the McCaig Research Chair in Management at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, has been appointed the incoming editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Business Studies for a two-year term starting in 2017.

– York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto ranked first in Canada for the 10th year in a row – and 24th in the world – for "best global MBA" as measured by CNN Expansion, a Latin American business media outlet that looks at several criteria, including academic quality and return on investment.

– AACSB International, a U.S.-based accrediting body for business schools around the world, recognized HEC Montréal for innovative business education, citing the school's experiential business history course that features a 12-day, 500-kilometre cycling trip for students to learn about Quebec's industrial history.

Long-time department becomes a school at Trois-Rivières

Since its founding in 1969, l'Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières has provided business degree programs through its department of management science. Last October, from these departmental roots, the university announced the creation of a new school of management.

The school has almost 3,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs, with 40 professors and about 60 lecturers. "The diversity of disciplines in the field of management science, the continuous increase in student numbers and variety of programs offered are the main elements that led us to this organizational change," school dean Saïd Zouiten said in an e-mail response to questions.

The Trois-Rivières program has had a long-time focus on small and medium-sized companies, entrepreneurship and project management, but now plans to add health and sustainable development topics, according to Dr. Zouiten, who was appointed dean last year.

He anticipates further growth in student enrolment, given the school's ambitions to expand partnerships with the local business community. About 90 per cent of students come from Quebec, with the balance recruited from France and francophone Africa.

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