Business Majors At Top Undergrad B-Schools

Undergraduate students at Cornell University’s Dyson School

Business is one of the most flexible majors. But that doesn’t mean students emerge proficient in every business field. Even after getting admitted to a school, many students declare a more specific major in their junior year.

But different schools offer different majors, and high school seniors should pay attention to which schools offer what. While nearly all of the top 25 undergraduate business schools offer majors like accounting and finance, there are many majors that are not as universal.

Not every school offers international business or entrepreneurship, for example. Even less common are such majors as real estate, healthcare management, and agricultural business. Some schools may even have special programs that others don’t, like the University of Southern California’s World Bachelor in Business, which is an international business major run through three different schools in three different countries.

The school with the most major options is Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, with a dozen majors and seven co-majors, which are options that may only be declared alongside another major.

On the flipside, several of the top 25 schools don’t offer specialized majors at all. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School, among others, only have one general business major.

Whether you’re looking for a school with the most major options, a school with a particularly rare major, or a school with the flexibility of one-major-fits-all, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you arrive on campus.

KELLEY HAS THE MOST MAJORS

At the Kelley School, Dean Idalene Kesner says the school’s broad portfolio of majors is a function of its large, diverse student body.  “We’re one of the largest business schools, and we have such a large undergraduate program with so many students, that we wanted to make sure they have lots of options,” she says.

One of the biggest advantages of having a large program, she says, is that they have a large faculty as well, and can offer highly specialized electives. “A major, for us, is more in-depth than a general business major,” she says. “If you’re majoring in finance, you’re going to take quite a few classes, going deep into finance, so you can really hit the ground running.”

When undergraduate business majors arrive, they take required courses in the first year, and a class called Compass, where they explore different career paths. In their second year, they have a global core, which includes an international experience. In their third year, students pick their majors.

Kesner says that students do switch majors fairly often, until the point of no return, which is when they wouldn’t have enough time left to change a declared option and still graduate in four years. “Switching is popular, but we encourage students to take the compass course early on, so they can better understand their potential career paths,” she says.

THE ADVANTAGE OF LOTS OF MAJORS

Without question, she says that finance is the most popular major, with 56.5% of Kelley undergrads. Accounting follows right behind at 27%, and marketing after that, at 23%. One of the least popular majors right now is real estate, but Kesner says the school is working hard to beef it up, since real estate is the primary business in the Indianapolis community. “We’re working with donors in the area to grow the major even more, because we think it will serve the community,” she says. “Even though many Kelley students are not from here, we feel some responsibility.”

The least popular overall is Kelley’s legal studies major, which Kesner says it partly due to the fact that the school recently introduced a new co-major called Law, Ethics and Decision Making. Business students interested in law are now taking that option, rather than primarily majoring in legal studies.

This is not uncommon, Kesner says. Nearly all of Kelley’s co-majors are new, and she says they’re constantly considering new majors and co-majors. Majors that see less interest over the years are discontinued. “I think we’ve had really good receptivity from our students,” Kesner says. “I think they see the options, not as overwhelming, but as a great way to customize their degree. The fact that we have this versatility and variety is a plus for us, and speaks to the ability of the students to prepare themselves.”

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