The OU Price College of Business launched the world’s first executive masters of business administration program focused on renewable energy, according to a June 22 press release.
The executive masters of business administration in renewables is a 32-credit hour and 14-month long program. Corey Phelps, the dean of the Price College of Business, said the first class begins in the spring of 2022 and is designed for mid-career professionals who work in the energy sector to enhance their business skills while focusing on the specific challenges and economics of renewable energy firms.
Phelps and Dipankar Ghosh, a David Ross Boyd Professor of Accounting and the program’s architect, said this new program is intended to meet the growing demand for renewable energy professionals. They felt it was the right time to launch the program as the energy industry transitions from using fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy like solar and wind power.
“What we see is an opportunity to basically tailor the graduate experience (of) the MBA program for people that are pursuing a career in renewable energy,” Phelps said. “We see (there) is a growth sector that needs business skills that really no direct competitors are pursuing, so it seemed like it was an opportune time, given the growth and given the fact that no one else was doing it.”
Phelps said the program is a combination of in-person and online courses. He said there will be three one-week in-person residentials to start and conclude the program while participants complete coursework and collaborate with each other and instructors online throughout the term.
Additionally, students will have an opportunity to participate in an international residency toward the middle of the program to learn about renewable energy sourcing in Europe.
Ghosh said there are other programs at OU that pertain to renewable energy, but they focus more intently on scientific or technological perspectives. He said the new program covers business principles, such as finance, marketing, economics, accounting and leadership, and other relevant topics to teach decision-makers how to manage organizations or institutions associated with renewable energy.
"It will give professionals the opportunity to hone their knowledge and skills as the industry progresses, ensuring they are prepared to take up the mantle of leadership in this rapidly growing field," Ghosh said in the release.
As the program is designed for working professionals who are looking to advance, Ghosh said prospective students should have at least six years of work experience, with one of those in renewable energy.
Both Phelps and Ghosh agreed the program is not intended to influence the replacement of oil and gas in Oklahoma. They said renewable energy will work to complement traditional forms of energy as the demand for energy continues to grow globally.
“This program is, simply, an outgrowth of the direction the energy industry, the United States and the world is already headed, and that is toward a future that involves less carbon and more clean energy sources,” Ghosh said.
Phelps said it is important to ask how renewable energy can become an important source of local energy production in Oklahoma in the future. He said the state has the potential to become a “tremendous” solar and wind energy producer.
“I don't think it's going to be a situation where Oklahoma suffers because of the decline in oil and gas. I think one possible future is on the whole Oklahoma benefits, so while oil and gas declines, sun and wind power may take its place,” Phelps said. “What this means for the University of Oklahoma is we need to be present in both aspects of the energy industry — oil and gas, and renewables. It's not a debate about ‘we pick one,’ it’s ‘we got to do both,’ and we got to do both for decades to come.”
Editor's note: this article was updated at 12:28 p.m. to correct the titles of Corey Phelps and Dipankar Ghost. It also modified the headline.