San Francisco State University launches MBA for biotech professionals

Unique program is the result of a partnership with the city of South San Francisco

San Francisco State University’s College of Business has launched its first-ever MBA for biotech professionals in partnership with the City of South San Francisco. Classes begin this week in South San Francisco’s City Hall. A major hub for the biotech industry, with companies like Genentech, JLABS and Amgen calling it home, the city approached San Francisco State in January 2017 about creating a program to support the professional development of emerging leaders in the field.

“South San Francisco is the birthplace of biotechnology, which began more than 40 years ago,” said South San Francisco Mayor Liza Normandy. “With more than 215 biotech companies now in our city, it seems appropriate that an advanced degree program would be offered here, and we’re proud to be partnering with San Francisco State University.”

Before creating the MBA program, University and city officials conducted focus groups and consulted with members of the California Life Sciences Association, an industry organization with members in leadership positions in major biotech companies. The resulting program is unique in that it’s the only one of its kind in the Bay Area offered by a public university located in an industry hub.

“SF State will always pursue creative solutions to bring higher education where it is needed. This enables us to meet the professional needs of our current and prospective students,” said SF State President Leslie E. Wong. “By bringing our outstanding curriculum to one of the nation’s biotech centers, we will train the future leaders and innovative thinkers of this transformative industry.”

The program offers graduate-level courses such as leadership and organizational change that are typical of most MBA curricula, but features offerings specifically tailored to the biotech industry. Instructors will use case studies from the biotech industry, explore current issues facing pharmaceutical and medical device  companies and host industry professionals as guest speakers and in-class panelists. According to SF State Marketing Professor Sanjit Sengupta, who serves as faculty director of the University’s graduate business programs, the ideal applicants include scientists involved in clinical research at large or small biotech companies. The program is launching with a cohort of nearly 10 students, many of whom have significant experience in the biotech industry.

“Our target candidates are scientists who aspire to leadership roles where they could be supervising teams of researchers,” Sengupta said. “Or they might have some entrepreneurial ambitions of their own and may want to branch out and build their own startup company.”

If you are interested in enrolling in the new biotech MBA program for Spring 2019 or in learning more about it, visit