Tyra Banks Totally Lied About Her Degree From Harvard Business School

I have always given Tyra Banks credit for being more than just a pretty face. Once a teenage model, Tyra now runs a media empire. I have commended her for her choice to pursue education and really understand the business side of her job  but the recent news that she lied or rather embellished about her Harvard Business School degree is so disappointing.  She once said,  “There’s a difference between a career and a business. I’m not looking to build a company based on fans. Don’t chase the money, even if you want to be a banker. Chase the passion. Chase the dream.” Yeah Tyra. But don’t chase a dream if you are lying about it on the way there.

Back in the Spring we commended her for completing what we thought was the good ol’ fashioned HBS two-year MBA program. But it turns out Banks completed a nine-week program for executives called the Owner/President Management extension program. “Clients” of the program (they’re not called students) participate in three three-week units over the course of three years, at a cost of $33,000 per unit. It’s not part of the university’s top-ranked M.B.A program, and the alumni of the O.P.M. program are not granted a degree. You also do not have to take the GMAT to qualify. This is probably how she managed to appear on ANTM, write a book and start dating that young guy, while “getting her MBA.” ”In order for my company to grow and be the best, and to reach these women, and to serve them, I needed the best. So I went to the best,” she said last May.  Except not really at all. You went to like business school camp and bought a Harvard t-shirt. Plus, the fact that she went around talking about how she insisted on living in the dormsto get the real Harvard (extension program) experience isn’t helping her.

Jennifer Dziura, who writes Bullish for The Grindstone and The Gloss and is the author of Manhattan GMAT’s Foundations of Verbal book, Manhattan GRE’s “500 Essential Words” and “500 Advanced Words” sets of flashcards, and portions of at least ten other books published by Manhattan GMAT, Manhattan GRE, and other educational publishers, told The Grindstone back in February:

“Tyra isn’t “graduating” from HBS — the Owner/President Management Program is not an MBA or any kind of degree program at all. It’s a very expensive version of the kinds of executive education programs advertised at many universities — all good sources of income that help to fund those universities’ degree programs.

A “graduate” of HBS would have an MBA and significant quantitative skills that are typically not required in “executive” programs (which both cost more and are less rigorous). MBA graduates from top programs, of course, need significant quantitative skills (courses in accounting, finance, economics) to even be admitted. What I’m saying is: they can all do calculus. They can find the area under a curve, for instance, which is a necessary skill for certain kinds of analysis. And they know their way around a variety of types of financial statements. There are no such prereqs for Tyra’s program (you don’t even need to be a college graduate) , which, according to the site is only three weeks per year over three years. So, if given the option to do it in one year, a person would still have … the other 43 weeks left. Not saying the program didn’t help her, but she definitely does not have anything like an MBA.”

The thing is Tyra is a smart woman and has been successful. If she had tried she could have attended the real business school but I don’t think she  wanted to take the time.  In less than ten years she has created a multi-million-dollar empire. She has America’s Next Top Model which draws about 3.8 million viewers regularly. She also had the Tyra Show which was on for five seasons and she runs the TZONE Foundation, which raises funds for groups that empower young women and girls. In 2009 she was named as the highest paid woman in prime time, with an annual income of $30 million. She also launched the beauty sitetypeF.com this past March.

Photo: Helga Esteb/Shutterstock.com

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