10 Undergraduate Business Schools To Watch In 2021

Zurack Trading Room at the School of Management

Binghamton University School of Management

‘If you want to learn business, you need to go to New York.’

That’s what some people will tell you. Problem is, they don’t tell you where in New York to go. Based on this year’s P&Q Business School Ranking, you can skip the Big Apple and still get a world-class business education in the Empire State.

Just drive 200 miles north and you’ll come to Binghamton, dubbed the “Valley of Opportunity.” Why not? After all, IBM was founded just 15 minutes away. It has been a manufacturing hub for cigars, shoes, and computers and a major center for General Electric and Lockheed Martin. It even boasts the first Dick’s Sporting Goods store. In other words, Binghamton knows business. Not surprisingly, so does the Binghamton University School of Management.

This year, Binghamton jumped from 47th to 28th in P&Q’s Undergraduate Business School ranking (and 15th among public programs). In the process, it leapfrogged East Coast royalty like Bucknell, Rutgers, Providence, and Syracuse. One reason: average SAT scores climbed from 1406 to 1417. At the same time, average starting pay rose from $68,281 to $71,394 in a COVID-ravaged employment cycle. Here’s the kicker: in the alumni survey, Binghamton graduates gave it the 6th-highest score for being worth the money. In this context, Binghamton scored higher than #1 Wharton.

Yeah, it was a good year to be a Bearcat. And 2020 was the school’s 50th anniversary to boot!

The school is especially well-known for leveraging its corporate partnerships. For one, PwC sponsors its Scholars Program, where top students can access special programming, including seminars and an international trip. For another, sophomore business majors can apply for the EY Trajectory Program. In a nutshell, students work with EY consultants on cases and projects to expose them to client relations and project management and enable them to build their network in a Fortune 50 firm.

“It was a real life consulting experience and helped me understand how to deal with other people on teams, at clients, and how to manage my own workload,” writes one 2018 anonymous alum in an interview with P&Q.

What else stands out about the Binghamton University School of Management? Last week, P&Q posed questions to three members of the program’s top administration: Dean Upinder S. Dhillon, Shelley Dionne, associate dean and professor of leadership, and George Bobinski Jr., associate dean of undergraduate, masters and executive programs. Here are their thoughts on the Binghamton difference.

5 QUESTIONS WITH BINGHAMTON SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT LEADERSHIP

Shelley Dionne

P&Q: What are your undergraduate business program’s two biggest strengths and how do you make students better prepared for business once they graduate?

Dionne: “The two biggest strengths of the program are 1) the emphasis on learning hard skills such as analytics and technology and 2) the integration of soft skills, such as leadership and communication. These strengths are amplified as they are often taught together. All School of Management students build proficiencies that enable them to serve as facilitators between organizational strategy and technology systems and processes.

Our analytics requirements ensure that all of our students have a fundamental understanding of the complexity surrounding technology and information systems, and possess programming and data analytic capabilities to encourage the development of innovative solutions.

Our leadership focus ensures that students have skills to both lead and follow effectively once they join the business world. Students are encouraged to bring unique and diverse perspectives into problem-solving. They develop strategies and goals that support collaborative group efforts, and mentor others through encouraging strong learning for everyone.

We uniquely position our students to understand the leadership and teamwork challenges of decision-making in dynamic and complex contexts where solutions are more likely to involve analytics and collaborations across disciplines, rather than within disciplines.”

P&Q: You climbed from 47th to 28th in our newest undergraduate business ranking. What are some new and upcoming developments in your program that will enhance the business program for future business majors?

Dhillon: “With an emphasis on case analysis and communication, first-year students are taught how to be more effective problem solvers. New students also begin meeting with the School of Management Career Services office as soon as they arrive on campus to develop a plan of action. With regular follow-ups and programs through graduation, we help students meet their personal and professional goals.

With a focus on analytics and leadership, the required coursework for all students includes challenging analytics and technology components, with faculty teaching tomorrow’s skillset. Leadership development is now being incorporated earlier in a student’s college career. To help facilitate this, we continue to develop a variety of formalized leadership programs that enhance professional development. We also emphasize how relationships with more diverse audiences lead to stronger and more productive networks. Students are provided opportunities to practice both followership and leadership roles through experiential learning and extracurricular opportunities.

George Bobinski

P&Q: What is the most underrated feature of your undergraduate business program and how does it enhance the experience for your business majors?

Bobinski: “The most underrated feature is the partnerships with alumni and regional and national organizations that have an impact on the student experience. These partnerships lead to invaluable experiential learning opportunities for students. Examples include our student-managed investment portfolio worth about $400,000, our live case challenges that incorporate real-world data, our project courses that allow students to work directly with professionals, and our externship programs. All of these opportunities allow students to simultaneously learn, network and build their résumé.

Another underrated feature is our requirement for all students to take coursework in programming and data visualization. With a higher demand for more technical skills, we’ve integrated this requirement to ensure students have a foundational understanding of programming and information technology.”

P&Q: What would business students and alumni describe as your signature experience? Why is it so fundamental to your culture and philosophy?

Bobinski: “There are two experiences that students and alumni often cite: Our mentoring program and J-Core Live Case.

The mentoring program matches first-year and transfer students up with top performing upperclass students. This helps new students get integrated into the school and build relationships with other students and recruiters. We’ve found that this enhances both learning and networking, and has even helped students find jobs after graduation. This ties directly into the school’s culture of giving back. We emphasize heavily that all students have a role to play in helping the school and one another succeed, and we find this giving behavior continues as they become alumni.

Dean Upinder S. Dhillon

The J-Core Live Case is the pinnacle of the school’s “J-Core” experience (a required sequence of core courses in finance, management, marketing and operations that students must complete). Students are placed into teams to work on a real business problem that spans multiple disciplines in a global company. The top teams are then selected to present their results to company representatives. This live case, made possible by our partnerships with firms, emphasizes our commitment to experiential learning, and is often cited by alumni as one of the most impactful experiences.”

P&Q: Which employers are the biggest consumers of Binghamton Business talent and what have they told you about your alumni that make them so special?

Dhillon: “The employers that frequently recruit our students include (in alphabetical order) Bank of America, Citi, Deloitte, EY, JP Morgan, KPMG, Mazda, Morgan Stanley, Protiviti and PwC.

Those who have worked with our students and alumni frequently tell us that they have a strong work ethic. Our employers find that our students don’t approach responsibilities with a sense of entitlement. They work hard to provide value to their organizations and communities, and are driven to find success. As a public institution, we are very proud when we hear this kind of feedback. Employers also comment on the degree to which our students are prepared to take on projects that incorporate both business and technology challenges.”

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