Diversity marks Smeal's Master in Management and Organizational Leadership

As 22-year-old Neha Sharma has navigated the early stages of classes in the Smeal College of Business’ new Master in Management and Organizational Leadership, conversations and observations have fostered a prevailing thought.

“It’s diversity,” said Sharma, who graduated from Penn State in May with an information sciences and technology major and a supply chain management minor. “I think the diversity among the group has shown me what I can look for in a work environment. Seeing how people can come together and learn and be creative and have shared interests has impressed me.”

The Management and Organizational Leadership Program from Smeal is designed for recently graduated baccalaureate students from STEM-related, non-business disciplines. It is modeled after the first year of the internationally ranked Penn State Smeal MBA Program and is taught by the same faculty as the MBA.

Diverse perspectives abound in a program where roughly 25 percent of the students represent minority groups, or are female, or are non-U.S. citizens. Nearly a dozen languages are spoken among the 36 students who began when the fall semester started in late August.

“Our management and organizational leadership master’s is designed to bolster leadership, communication, and business skills of STEM students, so we knew we would attract a wide variety of majors,” said Michael Waldhier, director of admissions. “However, we are delighted that the diversity extends beyond undergraduate education.”

Eight majors are represented in the initial class, including: agribusiness, communications, criminology, economics, engineering, information sciences and technology, labor relations, and science.

“With a STEM background, as a basic undergrad you can go into a lab technician spot or any kind of entry-level position like that,” said Joseph Woodson, who double majored in biochemistry and Spanish at Penn State. “With this kind of business background, especially since it’s focusing on management and organizational leadership, it will fast-track you to a management position. I see myself eventually being a lab manager at a pharmaceutical company.”

Sharma said she’s weighing three career paths: consulting, project management, or analytics. She said the skills learned in the courses she will take over the next year will help in any of them.

“This will help me connect my technical skills with business. I didn’t have the experience I needed to look for those kinds of positions. This will help me bridge those two,” she said.

More information about the Management and Organizational Leadership Program and an overview of the application process can be found online. Specific questions can be directed to or 814-863-0474.

Last Updated October 23, 2017