School of Business to focus more on government contracting

George Mason University’s School of Business is changing its curriculum, adding two new concentrations to its Executive Masters in Business Administration program that emphasize the role Mason plays in preparing students for careers in government contracting.

Sarah Nutter, Dean of the School of Business, defined government contracting, or govcon, as an industry that is focused on selling into the government sector. It provides services to the government at federal, state and local levels, and many big contracting employers are located in the Northern Virginia area. Mason’s School of Business hopes to build relationships with these companies that will help their students to receive internships and jobs.

Mason’s Bachelor of Arts in Business is also making major changes to its curriculum starting in fall 2015. The new curriculum requires business students to apply and enter the program as freshmen, so that they can begin taking business classes earlier. The Executive MBA degree will also add two concentrations in the fall of 2015: National Defense and Critical Infrastructure Protection.

The school is adding two new courses, “Business and Society” and “Global Business” while also incorporating professional development skills training for business students.

“They expect you to have expert technical knowledge, but they look for the softer skills.” Nutter says.

The new program also requires students to participate in an internship, which is built into the degree. The internship may be with a government or non-governmental company, but Nutter hopes that the internships might lead to a job. She stated that 85 percent of internships that accounting students held led to a job offer after graduation.

According to John Hillen, a Mason business professor, Mason should hold an advantage by being centered between Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, the two major locations of the annual $500 billion government contracting industry.

Hillen was hired last year to help highlight Mason’s focus on govcon in the business school. He has over 20 years of experience in the govcon industry, both in business and government, and has been the chief executive officer of four different companies that specialized in the field. Hillen also teaches students in Mason’s MBA programs that are connected to the govcon industry. Two popular degrees have been the MBA in Management of Secure Information Systems and the Masters of Science in Technology Management.

Nutter says that both the business degrees offered by Mason and the research performed by faculty are meant to benefit contractors in this area of business.

“It’s something we’ve always done, but now we’re building up a presence in this space and helping government contractors do their jobs better.”