Owen Graduate School of Management

The Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management is the graduate business school of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1969, Owen awards eight degrees: a standard 2-year Master of Business Administration (MBA), an Executive MBA, an Americas Executive MBA, a Master of Finance, a Master of Accountancy, a Master of Accountancy-Valuation, a Health Care MBA, and a Master of Management in Health Care, as well as a large variety of joint professional and MBA degree programs. Owen is renowned for its Health Care MBA, a unique program that provides students an in-depth educational experience tailored to the health care industry.[3] Owen also offers non-degree programs for undergraduates and executives.

Owen Graduate School of Management
Owen GSM logo.svg
Endowment$277 million (April 30, 2013)[1]
DeanM. Eric Johnson
Academic staff
49 (May '13)[2]
Postgraduates577 (May '13)[2]
Location, ,
CampusUrban, 330 acres

The student to faculty ratio is about 9 to 1, with 577 students and 49 full-time faculty members.[2] The school's 8,304 living MBA alumni are found throughout the U.S. and around the world.[4]

Owen's two-year MBA program is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the nation by major publications. In 2016, Owen was ranked #22 in U.S. News & World Report's rankings.[5] Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the full-time MBA program #30 in 2014.[6]

The school is named for Ralph “Peck” Owen and his wife, Lulu Hampton Owen. Ralph Owen, a Vanderbilt alumnus (’28), was a founder of Equitable Securities Corporation in Nashville, and he became the chairman of the American Express Company.[7]


Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management has been in operation since 1969, but the university's first proposal for a business education program came from its Board of Trust (BOT) in 1881. They called it the Commercial College Department. No program was established then, however, and it was the mid-1950s before a program of business administration was offered in the Department of Economics.[8] With the economic growth in Nashville and Middle Tennessee at that time, local businessmen, many of whom were Vanderbilt alumni and BOT members, recognized the need for a formal business education program to train leaders for the area. They were concerned that too many aspiring young businessmen would attend schools in other parts of the country and then remain in those regions.

Exterior of Owen Graduate School
Interior of Owen Graduate School

Progress was slow in seeing the need fulfilled; the idea was conceived during the administration of Chancellor Harvie Branscomb (1946–63) but did not come to fruition until the administration of Chancellor G. Alexander Heard (1963–82). The BOT passed the school's founding resolution on May 5, 1967, and operations as the Graduate School of Management began in September 1969 with twelve faculty members and six students.[8] Classes met in a renovated funeral home, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. David K. Wilson; he was one of those concerned Nashville businessmen, a Vanderbilt alum (’41), and a Vanderbilt BOT member.[9] The building was named Alexander Hall in honor of Henry Clay Alexander, a Vanderbilt alum (’23), a Vanderbilt BOT member, and president of J.P. Morgan.[10]

The first dean, Igor Ansoff, held master's degrees in engineering and in mathematics and physics from the Stevens Institute of Technology; his PhD from Brown University was in applied mathematics. He had most recently been a professor of industrial administration at Carnegie-Mellon but previously worked at Lockheed, where his specialty was strategies of diversification. He had also written and published works on business education and business management.[8]

It was under the leadership of Dean Samuel B. Richmond, a statistician from Columbia University, who had been acting dean of Columbia Graduate School, that the school was named for Ralph and Lulu Owen (1977). In 1930, two years after graduating from Vanderbilt University, Ralph Owen became a founding member of Equitable Securities Corporation in Nashville. By 1950, the firm was recognized as the second largest investment banking firm in the United States. Equitable purchased controlling interest in American Express in 1949 and 1950, and Owen became American Express chairman (1960–68).[11] Following the deaths of both Mr. and Mrs. Owen, their estates gave $33.5 million to The Owen School, said to be the largest gift to a U.S. business school at that time. That sum raised the total of their gifts to more than $62 million.[12]

The Owen School outgrew Alexander Hall, and its new home was completed in 1982. Management Hall is connected to a historic building, Mechanical Engineering Hall, which encloses a central courtyard and serves as home to the Executive MBA program. Mechanical, built in 1888, was the first building in Tennessee designed for the teaching of engineering.[13]

In July 2013, M. Eric Johnson started his tenure as the Ralph Owen Dean and Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy. Johnson previously served as Associate Dean for the MBA program at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business, where he was also Faculty Director of the Glassmeyer/McNamee Center for Digital Strategies and Benjamin Ames Kimball Professor of the Sciences of Administration. He began his academic career at Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management, where he taught from 1991-1999. One of the youngest professors to receive tenure in the school's history, Johnson twice won the Dean's Teaching Excellence Award while at Owen.[14]

From the beginning of the planning for what became The Owen School, the goal was to create a graduate business school of “the highest professional quality” with a two-year program leading to an MBA.[8] Most students in the early years were young men from Tennessee and surrounding states, fulfilling the hopes of businessmen to keep talented people in the area, but by 2008, men and women from across the United States and from international locales had attended The Owen School. At present about 25 percent are international students, and 33 percent are women.[4] Recruiters from American and international companies have sought out the students, and the school has expanded its offerings to specialized master's degrees (in health care, finance, and accountancy), an Executive MBA program, and an Executive Development program.[15]


The Owen Graduate School of Management is accredited by the AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and is a full member of the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC).

The Owen Graduate School's programs are organized by students' career stage level and interest. The classifications are: Young Professional Programs, Early Career Programs, Executive Programs, and Health Care Programs.

Career launcher programsEdit

These programs are designed for undergraduates and recent college graduates who want to attain a certain skill set at the start of their careers.

MS FinanceEdit

In just nine months, Vanderbilt Master of Science in Finance students earn jobs in investment banking, research, private wealth management, corporate finance, advisory services and more.


The Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy offers new and recent college graduates an accelerated path to positions with Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC, the "Big Four." Since the program began, Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy students have earned a 100 percent placement rate at time of graduation, almost all accepting "Big Four" offers well before then.

Master of MarketingEdit

The new Vanderbilt Master of Marketing degree program is scheduled to begin classes in July 2016.[16] The 10-month program aims to put graduates on a fast career path in companies of all sizes—from new start-ups to large established firms—and in a variety of industries, such as consumer packaged goods, technology and health care.

Accelerator Summer Business InstituteEdit

The Accelerator—Vanderbilt Summer Business Institute is designed for undergraduates and recent graduates in all majors. In the four-week program students in teams take classes and serve as consultants for actual businesses needing solutions to an actual challenge. Recently, students have worked with companies such as American Airlines, BlueCross BlueShield, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, FedEx, Humana, Lexus, Sony Music Entertainment, Yum! Brands, and more.[17]

MBA programsEdit

Early-career programs are designed for professionals who want to alter their career path in its first stages. These include both the MBA and Health Care MBA.


The Owen School's MBA degree program takes two years to complete and requires a minimum of 62 credit hours. The program is set up in eight modules (equal to four semesters) of full-time study. Students must take core courses in the fundamentals of management and complete them within their first year. MBA students may choose from the following career paths: finance, real estate, marketing, health care, human and organizational performance, operations, consulting, general management, entrepreneurship, or a custom career path.[18] Then students must take courses in one concentration, one course in international business, and courses outside their primary concentration. In addition to earning an acceptable letter grade, students must complete a project before graduation. The approach to learning (ranked in order of percentage) includes lecture, case study, team project, simulations, and experiential learning.[19] The Leadership Development Program begins at orientation when students join teams, and executive coaches work with students on an individual basis to explore their leadership abilities. Throughout the four modules, this program challenges students with exercises, projects, and workshops.[20]

Health Care MBAEdit

Executive programsEdit

Executive programs are designed for working professionals. Programs include the Executive MBA, the Americas MBA for Executives, the Master of Management in Health Care, and various non-degree executive development programs.

Executive MBA (EMBA)Edit

EMBA students in China

Most students who pursue the Executive MBA have been working in the business world for some time. Many are corporate executives who want to advance within their companies. Others are entrepreneurs who want to advance their businesses, and still others are professionals who want to become managers rather than practitioners. The program requires 24 months. In 2009, incoming students began following an alternating Saturday schedule and two summer sessions. The change from an alternating Friday/Saturday schedule was made to accommodate students in a challenging economic environment.[21] The first EMBA class graduated in the spring of 1980.[8]

Americas MBA for Executives (AMBA)Edit

The Americas MBA, an offshoot of the EMBA, is designed for working professionals who need more training for senior-level responsibilities for global organizations. The second year of the program consists of four 10-day residencies in the following countries: Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Upon completion of the program, students earn both the Vanderbilt MBA and the Americas MBA Alliance Certificate, issued by all partner schools from all participatory countries. [22]

Executive Development InstituteEdit

The Owen School offers several programs for working professionals:[23] Open Enrollment Programs require a two- or three-day commitment. The topics offered include management fundamentals, leadership, health care, and banking. Custom Corporate Programs are designed for specific organizations that seek solutions to a business challenge. In partnership with BAI (Bank Administration Institute), the Vanderbilt Banking Institute offers two-day programs for leaders in financial services management. Beginning in the fall of 2009, business executives were able to earn certificates in some subjects, notably health care and banking, by taking six to twelve two-day courses instead of three-day courses.[24]

Health care programsEdit

The two available health care programs are designed for business professionals who desire to make an impact on the health care industry.

Health Care MBAEdit

The Health Care MBA got under way in 2005, and Owen students were committed to a curriculum “requiring more health care-specific courses than any other program of its kind in the nation.” [25] In addition to taking courses, students earning the Health Care MBA gain direct experience at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and local health care companies. For example, they may attend operations, go on rounds with social workers, or visit community clinics.

Health Care MBA students are required to take 28 credit hours in business fundamentals. Also they select a concentration, requiring 12 credit hours, which may be in finance, accounting, general management, human and organizational performance, information technology, marketing, operations, or strategy. Some companies that have recruited Owen Health Care MBAs include Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific, HCA, and Johnson and Johnson.[26]

Master of Management in Health CareEdit

Students complete requirements for the Master of Management in Health Care within one year by taking core business courses one night per week and health care courses one weekend per month. They also work in teams on a project. Most students are clinicians, physicians, or nurse managers; all candidates must have at least five years of work experience in their fields. Students have learned that by following standard business practices, providers can improve the quality of care to patients and save money.[27]

Walker Management LibraryEdit

To help them with research and keep up to date on current trends, students have access to the Walker Library collection of more than 50,000 volumes, more than 900 periodical titles, reference works, and electronic databases such as Factiva, Bloomberg, Lexis/Nexis, Vault, and Thomson Reuters Datastream|Datastream Advance.[28] The library also offers assistance to faculty and staff, alumni, and corporate clients. Located in Management Hall, the library was named in honor of Anne Marie and Thomas B. Walker, Jr.


The Owen Graduate School of Management has received many accolades for both its MBA and Executive MBA programs.

Publication Ranking (MBA) Ranking (EMBA)
Financial Times (US) 40 (2017)[29] 15 (2015)[30]
Bloomberg Businessweek 34 (2015)[31] 35 (2014)[32]
U.S. News and World Report 25 (2017)[33] N/A
Economist "Which MBA?" 23 (2017)[34]


The Owen School's faculty members are recognized for teaching expertise, research, and consultancy. They have presented papers at conferences around the world, have published reference books, and have published papers in leading journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Finance, MIT Sloan Management Review, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. Eight percent of faculty members have owned a business.[4]


Students seeking the MBA in finance may choose a finance concentration, a corporate finance specialization, or an investment management specialization. The latter two require more credit hours (20). Companies that have hired Owen students in finance careers include Amazon.com, Black and Decker, Goldman Sachs and UBS. Finance was the most popular area for Vanderbilt MBA students in 2007–8; 43 percent accepted jobs in that field.[35]

In 1969 Hans Stoll, now the Anne Marie and Thomas B. Walker Professor of Finance at The Owen School, was the first to describe the put-call parity in the article “The Relation between Put and Call Prices.” The article has been called a “classic” that was the source of many innovations.[36] Nicholas Bollen, the E. Bronson Ingram Associate Professor in Finance, focuses his research on hedge funds; he discussed the subject “Do Hedge Fund Managers Misreport Returns?” at the Oxford Finance Symposium in 2008.[37] The research of William G. Christie, Frances Hampton Currey Professor of Management, led to reform of NASDAQ trading practices.[38]

Professor Robert E. Whaley is an established expert in derivative contract valuation and risk management, and market operation. He has been a consultant for many major investment houses, security (futures, option and stock) exchanges, governmental agencies, and accounting and law firms. Whaley developed the CBOE Market Volatility Index (i.e., the “VIX”) for the Chicago Board Options Exchange in 1993, the NASDAQ Market Volatility Index (i.e., the “VXN”) in 2000, and the BuyWrite Monthly Index (i.e., the “BXM”) in 2001. He also co-developed the NASDAQ OMX Alpha Indexes.


The Master of Marketing degree requires the completion of 32 credit hours.[39] Twelve credit hours are required for a marketing concentration; twenty credit hours are required for brand management specialization. Some companies that have hired Owen students for marketing careers include Delta, FedEx, IBM, UPS and Microsoft. Dawn Iacobucci, E. Bronson Ingram Professor in Marketing, has written works on mediation analysis, marketing management, and marketing research.[40] Bruce Cooil, Dean Samuel B. and Evelyn R. Richmond Professor of Management, was awarded the 2007 Marketing Science Institute/H. Paul Root Award for research challenging the fundamentals of the loyalty metric Net Promoter.[41]

Health careEdit

Nashville is a leader in the health care industry with more than 350 health care companies in the city and surrounding area; 21 companies have headquarters there. And there are 30 hospitals, medical centers, and specialty centers. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is noted for its research, training, and health care.[42] A notable addition to the Owen School's health care faculty (in joint appointment with the Vanderbilt University Medical School) is Senator William H. Frist, M.D. He has performed more than 150 heart and lung transplants, written books and medical articles, made many medical mission trips to Africa, and served as the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. Professor Michael Burcham has been a strategic consultant for health care start-ups and published papers on entrepreneurial approaches to health care.[43]

Additionally, Larry Van Horn is a leading expert and researcher on health care management and economics. His research on healthcare organizations, managerial incentives in nonprofit hospitals and the conduct of managed care firms has appeared in such leading publications as the Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Law and Economics, International Journal of Industrial Organization, Medical Care, Medical Care Research and Review, Journal of Public Budgeting and Financial Management, and Harvard Business Review.[44]

Human and organizational performance (HOP)Edit

Twelve credit hours are needed for a HOP concentration with two required HOP courses. "Working as a human capital professional may be one of the most innovative and important new jobs in the business world today," according to the National MBA Human Capital Case Competition.[45] Companies that have hired Owen students for HOP careers include General Mills, Nissan, and Pfizer. A study by Professor Timothy M. Gardner titled "In the Trenches at the Talent Wars: Competitive Interaction for Scarce Human Resources" highlights how trained professionals can help firms retain their human capital.[46]


The operations concentration requires 12 credit hours with one required course. Companies that have hired Owen students for careers in operations include Apple, Emerson, Harrah's Entertainment, and HP. Michael A. Lapré, E. Bronson Ingram Professor in Operations Management, is known for his work on organizational learning curves; he has received the Shingo Research Prize, among other awards. Professor Nancy Hyer's book Reorganizing the Factory: Competing through Cellular Manufacturing, written with Urban Wemmerlov of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, won the 2003 Shingo Prize for Research in Manufacturing, awarded “in recognition of outstanding contribution to the body of knowledge in the field of manufacturing excellence.” [47]


To pursue an entrepreneurship emphasis, students need to fulfill 8 credit hours; they choose four courses compatible with their interests. Students in Professor Germain Boër's classes can expect a mix of creative assignments and speakers who are entrepreneurs. Professor David Furse has more than thirty years’ experience in the academic and business worlds, and he is founder of NCG Research, Inc. First-year MBA entrepreneur students who are accepted in the Summer Enterprise Development Internships receive a stipend so that they can start their own ventures.

Additionally, Professor David Owens serves on the faculty at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management in the area of management, where he also directs the Executive Development Institute. Specializing in innovation and new product development, he is known as a dynamic speaker and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. He provides consulting services for a wide range of clients around the world, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, London Guardian, and San Jose Mercury News, as well as on NPR's Marketplace.[48]

Real estateEdit

To have a real estate emphasis, students must take three required courses and choose other classes from The Owen School and the Engineering School at Vanderbilt. Companies that have hired Owen students for real estate careers include CBRE, Gaylord Entertainment, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Jacob Sagi, Associate Professor of Management, has interests in asset pricing and decision theory.[49]


A primary concentration in finance, operations, marketing, or HOP is typical for students who pursue a consulting career; they have to fulfill 12 credit hours. A secondary concentration is often in strategy, which requires 12 credit hours. Each of the finance, the marketing, and the HOP concentrations requires two specific courses and the rest electives. Operations requires one course, and the rest electives. Companies that have hired Owen students for careers in consulting include The Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte Consulting, ECG Management Consultants, and North Highland. Professor David C. Parsley served in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank, San Francisco, before joining The Owen School; international finance is one of his interests. Luke Froeb, William C. and Margaret W. Oehmig Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise, is the former director of the Bureau of Economics for the Federal Trade Commission; he is dedicated to tearing down barriers to competition in the business world, and his models have been applied in the area of merger analysis.[50]

Student lifeEdit

Owentoberfest 2012

Most Owen students live off campus, but on campus they have a wide variety of opportunities to meet other students. Owen-related groups sponsor everything from Thursday night socials to community service activities to the Capitalist Ball (a black-tie event). A sense of community is important to faculty, staff, and students.[51] The Student Recreation Center offers facilities for basketball, squash, racquetball, and indoor swimming; there are tennis courts and an outdoor track.

The Vanderbilt University campus, designated as a national arboretum, is near downtown Nashville. There is a long, cordial relationship[citation needed] between Nashvillians and students at the university, and the city encourages students to take advantage of arts events—from Nashville Symphony concerts to Broadway plays in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center—sporting events (the Titans NFL team or the Predators NHL team), numerous parks, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, golf courses, restaurants, and shops.


Owen was an early adopter wireless technology on campus. Classrooms, study areas, the outdoor courtyard, and adjacent businesses have access to Owen's high-speed wireless network. In 2008, storage was added for more e-mail and file storage. Printers are available in various locations for students’ use.[4]

Community serviceEdit

Vanderbilt MBA students are known for their commitment to community service.[citation needed] The Owen School was one of two winners of the 2008 TeamMBA Award, which was presented by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).[52]

Habitat for Humanity with Owen MBA students in 2012

Centers of excellenceEdit

Financial Markets Research Center (FMRC)Edit

Directed by Professor Hans Stoll, the FMRC was founded in 1987 to research financial markets and institutions. It hosts an annual conference bringing researchers, government regulators, and leaders of industry to the campus. Conferences in the last few years dealt with the topics of financial markets and financial policy (speakers in the spring of 2009 included Paul Volcker, Stephen Axilrod, and William Dudley), conflicts of interest in financial markets, and innovation in finance.[53] Co-director of the FMRC is Robert E. Whaley, featured above.

Turner Family Center for Social VenturesEdit

The Cal Turner Family Foundation committed nearly $1.2 million over five years to establish the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management.[54] The new trans-institutional center will focus on seeking creative, enduring market-based solutions to alleviate poverty. It will extend and expand the foundation's previous partnership with Vanderbilt, which bridges the divinity, education, law, management, medical and nursing schools. Mario Avila, MBA'12, became the director of the center in July 2015.[55]

Owen Entrepreneurship CenterEdit

Not only the Owen School at Vanderbilt but the Law, Medical, and Engineering schools benefit from the work of this center. It encourages entrepreneurship among students and stimulates start-up ventures. One of those ventures was the Nashville Capital Network. The center's director is Germain Böer, Professor of Management.[56]

Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the ProfessionsEdit

As its name indicates, this program promotes and discusses moral leadership among professionals. It is named for the late CEO of Dollar General Cal Turner. Bart Victor is the executive director.[57]

Project Pyramid in Guatemala in 2011

Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management StudiesEdit

The Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies is a university-wide joint initiative led by the School of Engineering, the Owen Graduate School of Management, and the Law School. VCEMS activities focus on environmental business, management, and technologies.[58]

Center for Healthcare Markets InnovationEdit

The Center for Healthcare Markets Innovation is the newest addition to Owen's Centers for Excellence. It was launched in 2016.


See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit

Coordinates: 36°08′50″N 86°48′00″W / 36.1472795°N 86.7999992°W / 36.1472795; -86.7999992