Most Innovative Undergrad Changes

4. Increasing Entrepreneurship Efforts and Efforts

A professor and student at Elon University’s Love School of Business discuss financial models. Elon’s Love School had the third highest percentage of alumni say they either had a “signature experience” or global immersion. Photo by Kim Walker

Call it the Elon Musk effect. Or the Mark Zuckerberg bug. Whatever you prefer, this generation of college students have grown up in an age of startups, unicorns, and entrepreneurial role models. So it’s no surprise that business schools are responding to the growing interest among students in entrepreneurship. From smaller liberal arts colleges to massive Midwestern universities and coastal schools, many undergraduate business programs have substantially beefed up their entrepreneurial offerings and prowess.

One of the most unique recent changes comes from Elon University’s Love School of Business in Elon, North Carolina. Launched in 2015, the Innovation House is the school’s live-in entrepreneurial experience. Each year, 13 residents are selected to live in a converted church building and eat, sleep, and breathe entrepreneurship. Students work together on business ideas, innovative hiring practices, and host events for the broader campus.

At the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, the curriculum has been turned on its head to accommodate the increasing demand for startup knowledge. A new Innovation and Entrepreneurship minor. has led to an increase in the number of entrepreneurship-focused credit hours from 12 to 15. The minor also makes the program much more accessible to students who may have been less interested in a previous major in the subject. The upshot: The school says it has nearly doubled the amount of students studying entrepreneurship.

Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Business both recently launched new accelerator and incubator programs. At Arizona State University, the nine-month incubator program is housed in the school’s ASU-Draper Entrepreneurship Center — a joint accelerator between the university and venture capital firm, Draper Associates. Similar to Arizona State, the iVenture Accelerator at the University of Illinois gives students the space, resources, and mentoring to launch startups.

A professor with students at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

5. Increase in Diversity Initiatives – Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

No other school included on the Poets&Quants’ top 50 undergraduate business programs enrolled a more diverse entering class of business students this fall than Georgetown University’s Georgetown McDonough School of Business. Some 40% of this year’s incoming class was made up of under-represented minorities and 9% were internationals, making nearly half of this year’s incoming class either an international student or minority. To support these students once arriving on campus, McDonough has upped its programming and opportunities for international students.

In 2013, McDonough introduced its Smart Start program for incoming freshman. Each year, 25 students are paired with mentors from PwC — largely Georgetown alumni — and meet semi-monthly for the entirety of the freshman year. A handful of students have been offered summer internships upon completion of the program. The Business Undergraduates Invested in Leadership and Development (BUILD) program is a pre-orientation initiative that is designed to integrate under-represented minorities into the McDonough community. It includes academic and leadership development seminars and sessions.

“One of the things that we noticed some time ago was that our students who were first generation college students in their families and our students who were underrepresented minorities, in particular, were having more difficulty getting traction in that first year than our other students,” McDonough’s previous Dean David Thomas told Poets&Quants. “So we collaborated with students here at the school to create a program called BUILD.”

McDonough also claims to have the first LGBTQ professional undergraduate organization for that community through the McDonough Alliance. Lastly, the school boasts a McDonough Women organization designed to empower women in business.

The increased efforts in building programming for traditional B-school minorities was one of the top priorities for Thomas. In the five years Thomas was dean, McDonough has increased its representation of women, underrepresented minorities, and international backgrounds on the faculty to 57%.

6. The Rise of Business Analytics

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

Akin to the tech sector, big data and business analytics is one of the hottest and most popular fields at the moment. Across the country, business analytics majors and minors are popping up at many undergraduate business programs. To be sure, schools are taking different learning approaches in the burgeoning field. For Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, students may apply for a combined bachelors in business administration and masters of science in business analytics program starting next fall. Notre Dame Mendoza’s College of Business also launched a new business analytics major for students, which will begin in the fall of 2017. At Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics, there’s a new certificate program. At the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, students may gain a new minor in business analytics. Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management has incorporated hands-on data analytics projects into elective courses in marketing, management information systems, and supply chain electives. The list goes on.

The massive growth to data analytics makes sense. Unlike entrepreneurship, where graduates are not guaranteed a job, companies can’t hire enough business analysts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted business analytics jobs to rise by 22% by 2020. A recent McKinsey study predicts the U.S. will have a shortage of about 140,000 to 190,000 professionals with analytics skills. At this point, if a B-school hasn’t created some sort of business analytics certificate, minor, or major, it’s likely on the way soon.

Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. Courtesy photo

7. Sustainable Business and Social Innovation

Ask any B-school administrator to define the current population of business students and more often than not, they’ll mention the popularity of sustainability and social enterprise. Increasingly, young professionals are looking for greater purpose in their careers. And many undergraduate business programs are answering the call by adding sustainability or social entrepreneurship training.

At Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, students have increased their participation in the university-wide Fordham Social Innovation Collaboratory. The Collaboraty, which is led largely by a handful of business professors and administrators, is a network of Fordham students, faculty, administrators, and community members dedicated to advancing social innovation, entrepreneurship, and change. The effort includes everything from community events and workshops to cross-campus collaborations in curricular and extra-curricular activities.

For Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business, the increased interest has led to the development of multiple courses in social entrepreneurship and business and society. At the University of Massachusett’s Isenberg School of Management, students may complete a five-course certificate program in Sustainable Business Practices. Pennsylvania State’s Smeal College of Business also boasts a new expansion in business sustainability, which has shown up in curriculum as a required core course focusing on social enterprise, sustainability, and ethics.