Tuck MBA Profs Take Business Education to Undergrads

An undergraduate student works in a Tuck School of Business "Bridge" program.

An undergraduate student works in a Tuck School of Business “Bridge” program.

Professors at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business will be hitting the road, to teach business skills to undergraduates. In a new partnership with all-female Smith College, about a dozen Tuck faculty will travel to Smith’s Northampton, Massachusetts campus to deliver a new version of Tuck’s “Bridge” program for undergraduates.

“A lot of kids coming out of college aren’t prepared to enter the workforce,” says Robert Hansen, a Tuck professor and senior associate dean. “They don’t know some of the basics, let alone some of the advanced things, that they need to know. They’re smart, they’re analytical. But they don’t know enough about business. We believe that a a liberal arts education is absolutely wonderful, extremely valuable, but it’s not enough. In a short period of time, three weeks, we can really complement the liberal arts education with an intensive grounding in business.”

Hansen expects about 35 students to enroll in the Smith Tuck Business Bridge Program, plus another 20 or so from other institutions, as the program is open to undergraduates world-wide.

THREE WEEK PROGRAM REVOLVES AROUND FOUNDATIONAL COURSES

During the three-week program starting May 25, undergrads from liberal arts, sciences, and engineering will learn business skills through foundational courses in accounting, managerial economics, marketing, corporate finance, decision-making, and leadership, along with networking and career skills.

“It’s a lot of what MBAs get,” Hansen says. “It’s not a mini-MBA, but we cover a lot of the same stuff.”

The Bridge program prepares the many undergraduates who will go into business post-graduation for an increasingly challenging job market, Hansen says.

“Competitiveness at the company level, at the business level, has just increased across the globe,” says Hansen, who teaches in the Bridge program. “Companies in their recruiting want people that can come in and deliver value right away.”

While previous Bridge programs have included a project involving evaluation of a publicly traded company’s products, customers, competition, and performance, the program at Smith will add a new option that will see students interested in entrepreneurism and start-ups conduct a market assessment of a new concept, product, or service.

The Bridge program at Smith costs $7,500, which includes tuition, dorm accommodation, meals, books, and activities. Need-based scholarships and loans are available, from a few hundred dollars up to nearly full cost, Hansen says.

MORE THAN 4,000 UNDERGRADUATES SERVED SO FAR

Tuck has put more than 4,000 undergraduate men and women through its Bridge program since opening it in 1997. Entry is competitive, based on SAT or ACT scores and an essay, plus GPA and extracurricular activities. There is no minimum undergraduate GPA for admission, but the average for Bridge students has been around 3.4, and administrators have typically accepted only about 270 applicants for every 500 applications, Hansen says.

Unlike Tuck’s on-campus Bridge programs, in the summer and this December, the Smith partnership is open only to women. That’s mostly because the program grew out of an existing relationship with the females-only school, but fits with Tuck’s effort to promote women’s entry into business education and business, Hansen says.

Bridge students take on a heavy workload, with classes starting at 8:30 a.m. and program activities continuing well into the night. Even lunch and dinner usually involve panels or speakers.