University Business Schools Cash in on Popular E-Commerce Programs

Article excerpt

Colleges and universities are finding there's money to be made in electronic commerce, not as a sales tool but as a course of study.

Business curriculums geared toward graduate students are spawning at local higher education institutions in response to a growing demand by both students and high-technology companies. But few schools nationwide offer them at the undergraduate level.

Old Dominion University in Norfolk will be among the first in the nation to offer degree programs in electronic commerce, better known as e-commerce, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

"It's one of the hottest areas in terms of business academics on the horizon," said J. Taylor Sims, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at ODU.

The 70-year-old university is starting an e-commerce concentration in both its undergraduate and graduate programs this fall, and hopes to start a bachelor's and master's degree program in science and e-commerce in the fall of 2001.

Students majoring in e-commerce take all field-related courses. Students concentrating in it take several e-commerce courses but major in a different field of business.

Before the degree programs can begin, ODU's proposal to Virginia's State Council of Higher Education has to be approved.

"I'm receiving 10 calls a day from potential undergraduate students, and about 25 calls a week from students interested in the master's level," Mr. Sims said. "And admissions is getting even more inquiries."

ODU turns out nearly 2,000 business graduates a year. Of those, 10 percent will be e-commerce majors in two years, Mr. Sims said.

The e-commerce field has grown tremendously and will continue to grow even faster, experts say. So far in its short history, the e-business field has generated $71.4 million in revenues. By 2002 that number will jump to $400 billion, and by 2003 it will hit $650 billion, according to EMarketer.com, an on-line group that collects Internet data.

Roy Moore, executive director of the 450-member Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs based in Overland Park, Kan., said he is seeing increased interest in such programs. …