Don’t look now: Wharton has a new rival on its heels. And they’re just three hours down I-95 from them.
In 2018, the McDonough School had ranked 16th in P&Q’s annual undergraduate business school ranking. A year ago, they had climbed all the way to 5th. Now, they’ve taken an even bigger step, reaching 2nd thanks to ranking as the top undergraduate program for alumni experience — and among the four-best for career outcomes and admissions measures.
When it comes to experience, most McDonough alums will start with the program’s global sensibility. After all, the Walsh School of Foreign Service — the nation’s leading international affairs program — is a short walk from McDonough. Not surprisingly, that cosmopolitan spirit carries over to McDonough. The school features one of the country’s deepest portfolios for international coursework, projects, treks, and exchanges. Notably, McDonough offers a three credit Global Business School, a mix of expert speakers, and research that culminates with a client project where student teams head overseas during the spring to present their strategies to executives. Even more, the school reports that more than two-thirds of business majors experience at least one global immersion.
“I studied abroad twice in my time at Georgetown, the first time being in a program specific to the business school held during the summer in Hong Kong,” writes one anonymous 2019 grad. “I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, imagine how my world exploded, first at Georgetown and then in Hong Kong. Not only did I learn about management that summer, I felt true cultural immersion and the expansion of my perspective. It changed me forever and brought me back to East Asia later during my junior year.”
McDonough business majors embrace what’s new and different for a reason. The school’s Jesuit roots prize openness, collaboration, ethics, and action — promoting good across the world. At the same time, it emphasizes the Jesuit precept of Cura Personalis — care for the whole person — that fosters ongoing growth both mentally and spiritually. This twin pursuit of what’s good and global fits well in Washington, DC, home to 180 embassies…not to mention an outpost for every imaginable company due to its proximity to public sector decision-makers. This dynamic creates opportunities for McDonough students.
“I did countless projects for real companies to help solve their business problems during business school, and those real world experiences prepared me for my job today,” notes one 2018 grad.
With experience comes pay. In 2020, McDonough alums pulled in $91,141 in base and bonus in their first year after graduation. That ranked 2nd only to the Wharton School — and represented a $7,700 boost over the previous class’ earnings. That doesn’t count the 97.63% placement rate for the 2020 class, either. The school’s admissions numbers are equally as impressive. This fall, freshmen averaged a 1449 SAT, up 30 points from the year before. At the same time, it became even more selective, with just 11.78% of applicants earning a spot at the school. Among them, 82.5% ranked among the top 10% of their high school classes.
Where McDonough truly thrives is student satisfaction. In a 2021 P&Q survey of the Class of 2019, McDonough ranked near the top of every single measure. In particular, the school earned the highest marks from alumni in four categories: Improving soft skills through extracurricular activities, school providing access to practicing professionals and alumni, career advising, and the accessibility of alumni. At the same time, McDonough produced averages among the three-best from alumni in six categories: academic advising, alumni network quality, faculty quality, improving socio-economic status, achieving dream careers, and providing a life-changing experience.
What can McDonough do for an encore? That’s one of the questions that P&Q posed to Patricia Grant, the senior associate dean for the undergraduate program at McDonough. Along the same lines, we asked her about why McDonough grads earn more than peer schools and how the school connects students with alumni. Here are her insights on why McDonough stands out.
5 QUESTIONS WITH PATRICIA GRANT
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?
Grant: “Here at Georgetown McDonough, we are grounded in Jesuit values and place a special emphasis on our people. We have a greater mission to serve others, create meaningful relationships with our students, and tailor experiences to a student’s individual circumstances and aspirations. Our program is deeply committed to the success and well-being of our students – this extends into the advising students receive from staff, from the alumni they engage with through career programming and mentorship, and from interactions with the broader community at Georgetown. We are truly a people-first program and I believe this is one of our greatest strengths as an institution.
We also provide an educational experience that is focused on global perspectives. Leveraging our location in Washington D.C., Georgetown students have the unique opportunity to engage with global leaders, participate in international consulting projects and internship opportunities, and learn business concepts through a global lens.
Our undergraduates benefit from the combination of our business core and Georgetown’s liberal arts education to ensure they graduate with the skills and context to make a difference in the world. We also emphasize career exploration and professional development opportunities throughout the program to help students find a career path that aligns with their personal interests and goals. This, in addition to our world-class faculty, vast alumni network, enriching global experiences, and purpose-driven education, is what makes us well-positioned to develop the future leaders of the world.”
P&Q: What are some new and upcoming developments in your program that will enhance the business program for future business majors?
Grant: “We strive to continuously revise and update our offerings in response to both student needs and the reality of the world into which they will graduate. We are constantly updating our curriculum and experiential opportunities, seeking new ways to engage with our alumni, and adding advising and career support to enhance our students’ experience in the program.
Georgetown McDonough is focused on developing careers of the future, and the future of business is both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Our students have the unique opportunity to engage in ongoing events, research, and curricular activities focused on new initiatives in sustainability, AI and analytics, and global affairs.
We also recognize that entrepreneurship, when in the hands of principled leaders, is one of the greatest forces for positive change in society. Our students can participate in pitch competitions, apply for the Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, or declare a new entrepreneurship minor with their undergraduate degree.
In the realm of sustainability, our new Sustainable Business Fellows program for undergraduates encourages students to deepen their knowledge about the growing, complex intersections between business and sustainability from a social, economic, and environmental perspective. The graduates of this program are able to anticipate, respond, and lead companies through ESG concerns, and also learn how to incorporate sustainability approaches into broader competitive strategies at their organization.”
P&Q: In P&Q’s alumni survey, McDonough produced the highest averages for alumni being accessible and the school connecting students with practicing professionals and alumni. How does McDonough facilitate these student-alumni connections?
Grant: “We have a number of programs that are centered on maintaining a substantive connection between students and alumni. They include 1:1 mentoring, career treks, a day in the life shadowing opportunities, and integrated guest lectures through our PILLARs program.
Within the curriculum, we encourage students to engage with alumni and their employers through live case studies, case analysis projects through our Global Business Experience, and other course-based projects. Our students are welcomed as lifelong members of our community from day one and remain connected as alumni through lifelong learning, mentoring, and engagement in our classrooms and events. Our phrase, “Once a Hoya, always a Hoya” continues to ring true, which creates a vibrant ecosystem of care, connection, and collaboration.”
P&Q: In the same alumni survey, McDonough earned the highest marks for career advising and the third-best averages for academic advising. What has your career services and faculty been doing differently – or more effectively – to generate this level of alumni enthusiasm?
Grant: “We have a Career Development Center that is solely dedicated to undergraduate students. Through this center, we’ve created and maintained many new programs in recent years, including Host-a-Hoya, a one-day job shadow opportunity with alumni, One McDonough career programming that serves undergraduate students with guidance around virtual and in-person recruiting strategies, as well as signature events like Sophomore Summit, a workshop that helps sophomores mind map and delve deeper into career exploration and major selection.
We also employ an exceptional team of McDonough Peer Career Advisors that support students with their resumes and cover letters, networking tips, mock interviews, and providing general career advice.
McDonough also understands that career outcomes are nuanced. Our students earn impressive career opportunities in terms of the salaries they receive and the companies they work for after graduation, but we also realize that success extends beyond traditional career outcomes. Are students enjoying the culture of their workplace? Does this work align with their personal and professional goals? Do they feel valued? We address these questions through career exploration exercises and academic advising to make sure our students can identify a career path that feels just as successful as it looks on paper.”
P&Q: 2020 graduates earned $91,142 in adjusted salary in their first year after graduation, the second-highest pay in P&Q’s salary survey. What have employers told you about your alumni that make them so special?
Grant: “Our alumni are equipped with well-rounded intellect, global perspectives, and a propensity to lead, giving them a high potential for promotion and retention. McDonough graduates have been taught to approach current issues with a solutions-oriented mindset and they aren’t afraid to tackle the world’s biggest challenges in business. They are bold, innovative, and caring leaders that can cast aside personal limitations for the good of society.
We have also heard that our alumni have a unique commitment to service, which I would attribute to Georgetown’s emphasis on Jesuit values, serving as men and women for others. In whatever spaces they go into, Georgetown alumni serve their communities as volunteers, mentors, advisors, and philanthropists. We believe this is highly valued in the marketplace as evidenced by their salaries and long-term career outcomes.”
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