I talked earlier that investor relations is a rare subject on college campuses – departments of finance often view it as a communication function, while departments of public relations or corporate communication view it as a financial function. Accounting professors rarely devote any significant attention to investor relations, while management professors give investor relations an occasional mention usually related to issues of ethics or corporate governance.
As a result, standalone courses in investor relations are almost non-existent in regular college programs. Investor relations is usually taught in professional certificate programs, occasionally in master’s level programs.
However, at a recent PRSA conference, I discovered that there is now a complete investor relations program. Yes, yes, not just a course, but investor relations major! It is not an undergraduate program, however. It is a Master of Arts in Investor Relations program, MAIR.
The location of this Master’s program also surprised me – I could expect something like that in the New York area with so many publicly traded companies located there. Maybe even in Washington, DC. But the program is actually offered at the University of San Francisco.
The MAIR program description emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of investor relations: “The graduate program combines a strong foundation of financial, marketing and legal expertise with the sophisticated public relations skills required in client relationships.”
The program, however, is not part of a Business School or a Communication School. It looks like it is housed in the College of Arts and Science. Not sure what to make of it...
The list of classes students will need to take during one year to earn their Master’s in IR is very impressive and seems to cover all the necessary topics:
• Financial Accounting
• Financial Markets
• Investor Relations and the Investment Process
• Macroeconomics for Finance
• The Practice of Investor Relations
• Communications for Investor Relations
• Corporate Finance
• Corporate Governance and Investor Relations
• Writing for Investor Relations
• Equity Valuation
• Fixed Income Valuation
• Marketing Your Company
• Disclosure and the Regulatory Process
• Alternative Investments
• Investor Relations Capstone
• Investor Relations Internship (optional)
The faculty list of the program is full of adjunct professors. In other words, the program uses professionals to teach most of the courses – this approach has its pluses and minuses, of courses, but in investor relations there is no other choice – there are literally a couple of professors who teach and conduct research in investor relations. There are only three full time professors listed on the program homepage – with their research interests seemingly focused on economics rather than investor relations.
Anyway, congratulations to the University of San Francisco! It is very exciting news and I wish you success with this program. In fact, I will be in San Francisco next week for the National Communication Association conference. If I have time, maybe I will stop by the USF campus to take a few pictures of the birthplace of the first Master’s program in investor relations.