elon musk
Image: Public

Want to be the next Elon Musk? There’s a College Degree For That Now

Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University now offers a 12-month graduate program in Executive Master of Global Management: Space Leadership, Business, and Policy (EMGM-Space) taught by industry experts that starts in January. The degree is geared towards those interested in careers in commercial spaceflight, defense and civil aerospace, AI and big data, next-generation manufacturing, or those just simply wanting to be the next Elon Musk or Richard Branson.


Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk during a briefing on the Starship prototype and its capabilities (Image: public domain).


BACKGROUND: Space College Is Now A Thing

ASU’s website provides an overview of the program that promises a “cutting-edge curriculum” that “prioritizes industry immersion and focuses on modern practices, principles and case studies for corporate, startup, nonprofit and governmental organizations operating in space.” They offer “to build cross-disciplinary skills” and that “students can take science and technology courses featuring renowned practitioners and scholars at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.” Hands-on learning, partnerships/visits at NASA, and other private sector players will be involved. 

The courses will be held online and in-person at ASU’s California Center in Los Angeles. Students who complete the 31 credit hours will earn a degree in Masters Of Global Management. Tuition will cost a whopping $67,000, but scholarship opportunities are available. According to Thunderbird’s website, an anticipated salary in this field can fetch a post-graduate anywhere from $150,000 to over $300,000.

The program is headed by four former NASA alums Greg Autry, Ph.D. (also an ex-NASA liaison to the White House), Lindy Elkins-Tanton Ph.D., Zaheer Ali, and Jim Bell, Ph.D.

According to Autry, previous space-related education or experience isn’t necessary to be accepted into the program. Still, some professional work experience is needed, though it isn’t clear what exactly they mean.



ANALYSIS: So you want to be the next Elon Musk?

The space race in the private sector is bigger than ever, and the global businesses are now expanding beyond the globe to attempt to be the next SpaceX. With scholarship opportunities at the helm (ASU’s website pledges 96% can obtain some scholarship money with an average of $7,000 to $10,000), entrepreneurs who want to make space their next enterprise have the chance to take part in this innovative program. 

As colleges are expanding course options, these innovative degrees also show a shift in emerging interest in tech and space-driven degrees.

“Broadly, I can say that the space industry is growing and absorbing financing and technical human resources at an accelerating rate while management skills are lagging and individuals with finance, policy, and leadership skills that also understand space are increasingly difficult to recruit,” Autry told The Debrief. “I’ve seen many of my former colleagues from NASA HQ secure incredibly lucrative new positions with commercial space firms in the last few months. Our program is specifically designed to fill the vacuum in the space executive suite and in particular to bring a more diverse set of candidates to this industry.”

As this is serious business, there’s also a fun element, as Autry and others refer to themselves as “space professors.” One of the elements of Thunderbird’s global business is “fostering and harnessing imagination.” How that looks instructionally is unknown at the moment. Still, the prospect of content taught by “space professors” offers a lot of potential for engaging content and higher-level thinking. A program like this may be perfect for students who aim their ideas, goals, and creativity to the stars. 

OUTLOOK: “Space Professor” is Now An Actual Job

Looking ahead to the graduating class of 2022 would be a good early indicator of the program’s success and to see how many of them land jobs in the associated fields. Will this program birth the next Musk or Branson in the cosmic business space? The fact that degrees like this now exist shows a continued shift in higher learning adapting to the needs of modern students in an ever-changing academia. Maybe the next big space/tech giant will be an Executive Master of Global Management.

Follow Mike on Twitter @mikedamante

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