When Nasdaq OMX Global Indexes director David Krein was a business school student in the late 1990s, the term "exchange-traded fund" was little known to most of Wall Street, let alone a university classroom.
Now, Krein, who heads index research at Nasdaq, is teaching what he and his industry colleagues are calling a first-of-its-kind MBA course focused exclusively on indexing and ETFs - securities that often track an index or a basket of shares and can be traded in real time like stocks.
The course is a testament to the growing importance of the $2.2 trillion global market in ETFs, which has soared roughly 140-fold since 1998, when it was only $16 billion in size.
"Universities are starting to see a need to train their students to function in a world where ETFs are a key part of the investment process," said Scott Kubie, chief investment strategist at Omaha-based CLS Investments, LLC, which designs ETF portfolios.
Kubie, who himself used to teach portfolio management and securities analysis courses at the undergraduate and MBA level, said most core university investment courses are focused on securities analysis of individual stocks or other derivatives. These courses may dedicate only a lecture or two to ETFs rather than an entire semester.
"I haven't heard of anything like it," said Kubie, referring to Krein's course, which is in its first semester at Rutgers Business School in Piscataway, New Jersey.