The Bachelor of Science in Business and Global Affairs degree, a new interdisciplinary undergraduate program created jointly by the School of Foreign Service and the McDonough School of Business, will focus on the intersection of public and private spheres of influence.
The BSBGA curriculum will be composed of core requirements taken within both the SFS and the MSB. The program will also include four specially-designed courses and three international experiences that students must complete during their junior and senior years that are unique to the program, separating it from the already existing global business major.
Administrators from both the MSB and the SFS believe that the program represents the culmination of a long-held desire to bridge the gap between the two schools. The new joint degree represents a capstone of previously established programs, according to SFS Dean Joel Hellman.
“We have, increasingly, on the business school side and ours, been recognizing the interaction between the policy of international affairs and business,” Hellman said in an interview with The Hoya. “This is meant to go way beyond what we were doing in the past and building on that.”
The strength of both Georgetown’s business and international relations schools, alongside their location in the heart of American government, incubates academics who consider both the private and public sectors, according to MSB Dean Paul Almeida.
“I was a little surprised when I came here that there was not a richer interaction between the schools, because most of the world’s challenges and solutions lie at the intersection of business, policy and international relations,” Almeida said in an interview with The Hoya.
The BSBGA is also a method of capitalizing on Georgetown’s existing assets, according to Almeida.
“This is something the world needs. This is something that plays to our strengths,” Almeida said. “The challenges and solutions of the world are always interdisciplinary in nature. It’s just that schools are not. So this was an easy and smart thing to do.”
Students have shown strong support for the interdisciplinary program and Georgetown expedited the decision-making process on the degree as a result, according to professor J. Bradford Jensen, director of the BSBGA program. Since the first committee met in the fall of 2017 to explore the option of deeper SFS-MSB collaboration, the joint degree has moved with remarkable speed, Jensen said.
“It may seem like a long time, that this started two years ago, but in academic time, this thing has moved very fast,” Jensen said in an interview with The Hoya. “They put together this ambitious proposal to do this undergraduate curriculum that draws on the core from both schools.”
The new joint degree is specific in the methodology of custom courses and international engagements within the program. Students are required to complete international experiences during their junior year spring break, at the end of their junior year and during their senior year winter break, but are also permitted to spend a semester abroad. These aspects of the program distinguish the degree from others at Georgetown, Hellman said.
“It’s not some SFS degree with finance and accounting, and it’s not an MSB degree with a little comparative politics,” Hellman said. “It’s really trying to get students to think differently about the tools available to solve problems.”
The first cohort will be restricted to 20 SFS students and 20 MSB students, or students in other schools applying to transfer into the SFS or MSB. Students can apply for the BSBGA in April, at the end of their freshman year.
Before applying, students must take the BGAF Signature Course 1 this spring, the first of the BSBGA’s special four-course curriculum that will focus on global markets and politics. Freshmen will be able to register for the course and all students will be placed in a lottery should registration exceed the course cap, according to Jensen.
Applying to the BSBGA is not intended to be a competitive process, and Hellman hopes to expand the number of seats available in future years to meet student demand, he said.
“One of the things that we decided when we were talking to students and faculty was that we don’t want to make this into yet another competition,” Hellman said.
Jensen also said that a student’s GPA plays a secondary role to a student’s fit.
“What we’re merely trying to do is find the students for whom this best fits their interests and who will be best suited to this kind of a program,” Jensen said. “Ultimately, we want this to become big enough so that anyone who wants to be able to do this can do it.”
Even for students who are uninterested in the program, there’s still reason to be excited about the BSBGA. According to Almeida, the benefits of the program’s potential success apply to the entire university.
“The idea is to elevate Georgetown to the next level in everyone’s eyes,” Almeida said. “We want to signal to the academic world that in some areas, Georgetown is the best, and you should be here.”