Wharton Again Tops P&Q’s Best Undergraduate B-Schools Of 2020


SCHOOLS SPECIALIZE IN DIFFERENT AREAS, ACCORDING TO ALUMNI SURVEY DATA

In terms of overall alumni experience, graduates at Bucknell University gave their school the highest average of the 17 questions asked of students. Bucknell’s Class of 2017 scored Bucknell at 9.38 overall out of the highest possible satisfaction score of 10.0. Following Bucknell was Notre Dame’s Mendoza College (9.36), Georgetown McDonough (9.27), Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business (9.25), and Virginia’s McIntire School (9.23).

When asked how likely they would be to recommend the business program to a close friend or colleague, graduates of Lipscomb University rated their school highest at 9.93. Asked how well the school prepared them for the world of work, Bucknell graduates rated their school the highest at 9.50. Alums from The College of New Jersey scored their school the highest (9.59) on if they believed their business degree was worth the cost of tuition. Boston College graduates gave their former professors the highest marks in teaching quality at 9.46. And Bucknell graduates rated their school’s career advising highest at 9.31.

Overall, graduates of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School were most pleased with their first jobs after graduation. Some 98.15% reported that the jobs they landed right out of school were in their desired job function — more than graduates from any other school. An impressive 100% of graduates from The College of William & Mary’s Mason School reported finding first jobs in a desired industry. And 86.11% of graduates from the University of Pittsburgh reported finding positions with the companies they targeted for employment, more than any other school.

In terms of having a signature experience, 100% of graduates from the University of Evansville and Worcester Polytechnic Institute reported having an impactful signature experience while in business school. Some 97.10% of graduates from NYU’s Stern School reported having a significant international experience.

BUSINESS REMAINS THE MOST POPULAR COLLEGE MAJOR

As the economy, as well as education, continues to evolve, business schools also must innovate to keep up. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), business remains the most popular major. About a fifth of college degrees awarded in 2016 and 2017 was in business. But health sciences and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related majors continue to grow in popularity. Much of the business school innovation in recent years has centered on the need for more flexibility and cross-disciplinary programming and curriculum.

In 2021, Wharton will graduate its first class to go through a revamped curriculum. Part of that new design is a program called The Leadership Journey, a curriculum that includes three required courses and a capstone that begins when students enter the program. According to Diane Robertson, who is the vice dean and director of Wharton’s undergraduate program, the curriculum was “designed to increase flexibility for students to explore and pursue areas of individual interest, double leadership content, and increase emphasis on innovation and technology, ethics and social values, and the global economy.” Part of the focus includes the development of leadership skills, self-awareness, business communication, and team performance, Robertson says.

Wharton has also recently revised its general education requirement while increasing the number of unrestricted electives. “Wharton is more than just a business school,” Robertson explains. “Our flexible undergraduate program combines the study of business and arts and sciences, with students taking at least 30% of their classes at other schools at Penn. Students can follow their individual interests while gaining knowledge of leading business practices that can be applied in almost any career.”

NEW, SEVEN-STORY, 68,000 SQUARE-FOOT BUILDING OPENING NEXT FALL AT WHARTON

Innovation and cross-disciplinary work across schools within the university is increasingly becoming the norm for top business schools. With the constant growth of technology, data, and STEM-related professions and skillsets, business schools can’t simply exist in their own siloes anymore. And that generally means more opportunities and experiences for current and future business students.

“The school is constantly engaging with faculty and alumni to determine what a business school should be considering or acting on in emerging areas such as alternative investments, fintech, and AI,” Robertson says about Wharton. “We are teaching students who will work in firms and even industries that do not exist today. We need to prepare them to navigate an ever-changing business landscape.”

One of those innovations — and massive investments — is the creation of Tangen Hall, which will open on Wharton’s campus next fall. The $46.5 million, 68,000-square-foot building will officially open next fall. Robertson says the building will support student entrepreneurship and innovation, especially in the areas of finance and retailing.

THE ‘SCIENCE OF MANAGEMENT’ APPROACH TO BUSINESS EDUCATION

At Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, which placed 10th in this year’s ranking, the Tepper Quad was opened in 2018 to promote cross-campus collaboration. The building was built strategically in the middle of campus to make sure it physically felt accessible to all of Carnegie Mellon’s separate colleges. It reflects the trend of business schools to embrace the larger university and all it has to offer. According to Sevin Yeltekin, Tepper’s senior associate dean of education, all business students are required to complete a minor outside of business. “Our curriculum is designed to get them outside of the business domain and experience different things because we’re a university and not a vocational school,” Yeltekin says.

But it’s still very much a Carnegie Mellon way of going about teaching business.

“Over the last three years what we have really done is to align our core business education with the Tepper way of approaching business,” Yeltekin says. “Which is our management science approach — the scientific approach to management.”

“We’ve been very mindful about aligning ourselves with not just where business is, but a lot of technology-based, data-based business decision making and implementation,” Yeltekin adds. “But also to align ourselves with the strengths of this university. We are in a technology university. We have tremendous strengths in computer science, engineering, computer science, and machine learning. And it would be almost a waste not to utilize and combine that with business knowledge.”

‘COMBINED MAJORS’ SURGING IN POPULARITY AT NORTHEASTERN

At Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business (No. 15 in this year’s ranking), student interest in “combined majors” have surged in the past few years, says Jeffery Born, the associate dean of the undergraduate program. “We have a lot of student-interest in combined majors,” Born says, noting that applications to and enrollment in majors combining business with another discipline have increased from about 5% of the business student population five years ago to about a third of the class now. “With the kind of student that we’re having success in attracting, these programs are pretty unique,” Born says. Some of the more popular combos include business and economics, cybersecurity and business, and data science and business.

Born says the school has also made changes in the curriculum to “embrace the notion of Humanics, which he describes as “the marriage of technology with data-driven decision making and the human factor, the soft-skills side of business. We’re getting a lot of interest in these things and we’re pretty excited about them.”

Besides that, Born says the interdisciplinary work has also contributed to an influx in the growth of interest in entrepreneurship and innovation. “We have a real strong entrepreneurship and innovation community in our college. But we don’t own that. It’s at the university-wide level,” Born says. “It’s a very different university setting than the one I went to. It’s very vibrant and exciting. I’m not sure how they fit it all into one day, but they do it.”

One unique way students can take advantage of entrepreneurship at Northeastern is through the school’s cooperative education program. The co-op program, which places students in what is essentially a full-time paid internship for at least six months, can also be used to launch a startup, Born says, calling it “self-developed cooperative education.”

“They’ve started their own firms and they’re hiring themselves for the co-op,” Born explains. “They’re working on their own startup but with a salary and away from the university.”

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