The details of the four-year program, officially the U.S.C. Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young [Dr. Dre’s given name] Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, are still being completed. The first class of 25 students will enter in fall 2014, selected for their academic achievement, the university said, as well as their ability for “original thought.”At the core of the curriculum is something called “the Garage,” which will require seniors to essentially set up a business prototype. It appears to be inspired by technology incubators like Y-Combinator and universities like Stanford that encourage students to develop and pitch start-up ideas as class assignments.
Presumably both Dre and Iovine know what they’re looking for. The two have not only found immense success in the music industry (Eminem and Lady Gaga are just two of the many acts they developed and brought to glory), but in business as well. Beats Electronics, an audio products company they’ve also jointly founded, brings in $1 billion in revenue annually. Their idea to create the degree stemmed from their inability to find qualified candidates for their businesses, a problem other executives can surely relate to.The details of the program have yet to be released, but the core idea is intriguing. Rather than set up a conventional degree program in business, Dre and Iovine are specifically targeting their program towards the skills they see as most needed in the job market. And not only do they want to educate prospective students, but they’d even like to eventually employ them as well.Overall, the traditional higher education model has gone stale, and we’d like to see more choices for students—whether it be vocational programs, two year degrees, MOOCs, or degree programs like this with private sector involvement. At a time when college grads are chained to debt and under (or un) employed, this kind of innovation is exactly what’s needed.Rock on, Dre.[Dr. Dre image courtesy of Shutterstock]