SMU’s well-rounded curriculum and skills training gives its students an edge

New industry-relevant majors and an interdisciplinary curriculum get students future-ready

A group of SMU undergraduates making a project presentation to a partner at the end of their SMU-X module. PHOTO: SMU
A group of SMU undergraduates making a project presentation to a partner at the end of their SMU-X module. PHOTO: SMU

Choosing a course of study that will take up the next three to four years and impact your future career prospects is not a decision to be taken lightly.

But at the Singapore Management University (SMU), you can be confident that you have made the right choice, no matter what course you pick.  Across its six schools, SMU plans and designs its curriculum to ensure that its students gain the skills and knowledge that prepares them not just for their careers, but for the next stage of life.

Its multi-disciplinary broad-based curriculum offers students the flexibility to curate their own learning experience with over 300 combinations of 44 majors and tracks in a single-degree programme and 15 double-degree combinations across six disciplines.

More than 80 per cent of SMU students graduate with double degrees or double majors.

According to last year’s Joint Graduate Employment Survey, 93.9 per cent of graduates from the 2017 cohort found jobs within six months of completing their exams, with 65.4 per cent offered jobs before graduation.

The mean monthly gross salary also increased to $3,910, a 5.1 per cent increase over last year’s salary of $3,722.

Committed to giving its graduates an edge over their peers, SMU is constantly updating its curriculum. It introduces new and relevant programmes to prepare its students to be market-ready and cultivate young leaders with industry-relevant soft and hard skills.

Developing real estate finance and investment talent

This August, SMU undergraduates majoring in Finance or Economics will have the opportunity to take up a brand new Real Estate Track at the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business.

The unique and pioneering specialisation focuses on real estate investment and finance, and aims to develop a pipeline of real estate investment talent to fuel the growing sector.

The Real Estate Track is supported partly by a $3 million gift from Mapletree Investments announced in January 2018.  With government matching of another $3 million, the total funding of $6 million goes toward the establishment of a Mapletree Professorship in Real Estate, Mapletree Awards, Mapletree Real Estate Business Study Trip Grant and Mapletree Speaker Events, all under a partnership named the Mapletree Real Estate Programme.

Says Professor Gerard George, dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business: “We are delighted to co-create a real estate finance specialisation with industry partners that caters to the industry’s talent needs. Mapletree’s gift will certainly enhance the learning opportunities for our students.”

Professor of Finance Francis Koh is the newly appointed Mapletree Professor of Real Estate. PHOTO: SMU.

Professor of Finance Francis Koh was appointed the first Mapletree Professor of Real Estate and will develop the Real Estate Track in close collaboration with industry leaders and the SMU Advisory Board for Real Estate Programme.

Designed with industrial input, the course content leverages students’ firm foundation in finance and economics, and further equips them with specialised knowledge and multi-disciplinary expertise, which are essential to tap the real estate market for investments in the region and beyond. 

Students will be exposed to a cross-disciplinary curriculum comprising modules such as real estate economics, real estate investments and finance, valuation and taxation, infrastructure finance, urban economics and policy, and real estate law.

Academic courses are also complemented with exposure to real-world business practices, case studies and experiential learning opportunities, such as speaker events, as well as local and overseas internships and study trips.

Innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum

It is not enough to just focus on one field of study and SMU, through its curriculum, ensures that its students go through a broad-based education and gain the skills to take on an increasingly globalised, digital economy.  

The School of Social Sciences introduced a new major in Politics, Law and Economics (PLE) in 2016 to develop in students an understanding of global political and economic transformations within legal frameworks.

The PLE programme prepares students for leadership roles in diverse careers, from public service and consulting to foreign affairs and research.

In line with Singapore’s Smart Nation vision, SMU’s School of Information Systems (SIS), in collaboration with the School of Social Sciences, offers an interdisciplinary major in Smart-City Management & Technology to nurture graduates who possess the skills in integrating technology, social sciences and management for innovating smart city solutions.

This major cross-trains students with skills in data analytics and solution development skills and critical thinking in policy, business and social implications of smart city innovations.

Says Professor Pang Hwee Hwa, dean of SIS: “Students will be able to innovate IT solutions to achieve intended business, social and environmental outcomes. They also have opportunities to participate in the development of cutting-edge smart city solutions through the school’s existing strong partnerships with the industry.”

To meet changing job and market demands, the SIS revamped its curriculum last year to emphasise creating innovative computing and information solutions for business and society. During the first two years of study, the focus is on creating business and social value by developing IT solutions using innovation methods and emerging technologies.

From their third year of study, students will focus on deepening their Consultant & Business Analyst and/or Advanced Technical knowledge during their final two years comprising of these specialisation tracks: Financial Technology, Business Analytics, Digital Business Solutioning, Cybersecurity, Software Development, and Artificial Intelligence.

 “The emergence of new industries such as Fintech, widespread use of analytics across industries and coming-of-age technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and business intelligence demand a new breed of employees.

“The changes to the Bachelor of Science (Information Systems) curriculum will train students to use emerging technologies for developing end to end solutions required by businesses and society,” says Prof Pang.

Going beyond the classroom and making meaningful impact

Through SMU-X, an experiential learning framework introduced in 2015, undergraduates learn to tackle real-world opportunities by taking on projects from companies and community organisations.

SMU-X modules, which are available to undergraduates across all disciplines, combine academic with experiential learning through projects. The modules challenge students to use their disciplinary knowledge and skills to solve real world problems through interdisciplinary approaches.

SMU collaborates with industry partners from corporate, non-profit and government-sector organisations, and invites them to bring the challenges and issues that they face into the classroom where students then apply what they have learnt practically, and create meaningful impact.  The university’s partners and faculty are involved in active mentoring so the students benefit most out of this deep relationship.

Says Prof Lim Kian Guan, Vice Provost (Undergraduate Matters): “SMU-X not only promotes greater connection across school boundaries, it also benefits research and exposes students to more opportunities. By deep diving into current and actual problems and constraints, SMU-X courses can accelerate our students’ learning to go beyond hypothetical classroom exercise.”

To encourage creative and open collaboration, lessons are conducted by faculty and industry professionals in a flexible learning environment such as at the SMU Labs, a trend-setting co-study, co-work space for students.

Correction note: This article has been edited to reflect changes made after client's clarification of information provided earlier.