Stern Business School at New York University considers itself a pioneer of undergraduate business education. We are inclined to agree.
Twenty years ago, it created a unique international experience for undergrad business majors with its International Study Program (ISP). The program required each of its nearly 600 juniors to embark on an international study trip as part of their capstone course.
When the pandemic suddenly halted those trips in 2020 – and closed the campus and classrooms – Stern leaders took that opportunity to pioneer a new approach to the ISP. The school is taking the three most important aspects of ISP – the global experience, the capstone course, and community building – and reinventing them into three new innovations for the undergraduate program.
- The Class of 2024 will have a new senior capstone course in which Stern students work with one of New York City’s iconic companies or organizations throughout the semester on a real-life business problem.
- Beginning with the Class of 2027, every graduate will also have a global requirement to earn their degree.
- This fall, it launched a new Signature Experience Series in which each class – first years, sophomores, juniors and seniors – embark together on an iconic New York outing they may otherwise overlook. This year, these included trips to the U.S. Open in Flushing, a harbor cruise, Ellis Island, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Each outing is paired with specific Stern programming on soft skills for business majors.
Read more about these innovations in this 2022 interview.
A TOP 10 BUSINESS SCHOOL
Since the beginning of P&Q’s proprietary ranking of undergraduate business programs, NYU Stern has ranked among the best of the best.
It ranked No. 7 in both 2023 and 2022, No. 3 in 2021, No. 4 in 2020, and No. 5 in 2019. At 6.6%, it has one of the most exclusive acceptance rates in the business. That and its rigorous, global programming translates into very lofty employment outcomes: The graduating Class of 2022 with full-time positions started with an average salary of $92,572 — nearly $10,000 higher than last year’s starting average of $81,669 — which is the fourth highest of the undergraduate B-schools.
Stern also emphasizes Social Impact learning with a required four-course core. It offers a Sustainable Business concentration, drawing on expertise from Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business and Center for Business and Human Rights.
“The Social Impact Core helped us realize how big of a role businesses and business leaders can have in creating positive change. It’s not just good to do good, but it even improves the bottom line,” says Ana Martinez, a 2022 graduate and Best and Brightest Business Major. “There are multiple examples of how doing good leads to higher performance. We’ve discussed ESG investing or how diverse teams outperform those that are less diverse. In my Professional Responsibility and Leadership class, we reflected on our values and how that influences the type of leader we strive to be. Our discussion-based class encouraged us to bring our different backgrounds and ideas to the table. It was about learning about yourself but also learning from your peers.”
Students also can choose between a slew of clubs and organizations geared to building community and having impact.
“I’m most proud of my work for Inter-club Council (ICC). I focused my work on improving students’ health by creating stress-relieving events and creating changes to our club system to make the process easier for students. One of the events that I organized and managed was Crewmate Carnival, an ICC-streamed event that aimed to build community and relieve stress through the pandemic. It was the first of its kind and deemed a success after having over a hundred viewers,” says Eric Zhang, a 2022 graduate of NYU Stern.
P&Q INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT WHITELAW
We reached out to Robert Whitelaw, vice dean of NYU Stern’s Undergraduate College, to talk more in depth about the school’s direction for the year ahead. The interview is presented below.
What are recent and upcoming program developments and innovations that will enhance the experience of future students?
Regardless of degree program, every Stern undergraduate’s experience is grounded in five Pillars – academics, social impact, global, professional, and community. In the last six months alone we’ve announced exciting updates to three of them, so we are leaning deeply into NYU Stern’s call to action around change: Change. Dare it, Dream it, Drive it.
By way of background, in 2001 we launched a then-novel course, the International Studies Program (ISP), which played three important roles: it served as a capstone strategy course, provided students with a truly global perspective on business, and built community. When the COVID-19 pandemic brought the travel industry to a halt and grounded ISP, we saw it as an opportunity to innovate and evolve. After an 18-month review, we announced three significant enhancements that took the ISP roles to the next level:
- New NYC Consulting Capstone Course (launching Fall 2023) – This new senior-year course will be highly experiential and leverage all that students have learned during their time at Stern. We will use our industry partnerships to give students the opportunity to learn about and provide consulting services to real companies and non-profit organizations based here in New York City. What’s really exciting is that each section of the course will focus on a subject area driven by our faculty’s broad expertise. For example, I’ll be teaching a section of this course through the lens of finance while other sections might focus on tech or the not-for-profit sector. We have been doing experiential learning for a long time, but what is new is the scale at which we will be running. I’ve been talking with current juniors, who will be the first to take the course in the fall, and they seem really excited by this new opportunity.
- New Global Experience Requirement and Financial Aid (launching Fall 2023) – We will be rolling out new global degree requirements starting with the class of 2027, which will include completing one Global Experience. What is exciting about this is the extraordinary flexibility students will have in selecting their Global Experience. For example, they could do a semester away at one of NYU’s 14 global sites, or they could take one of our growing number of Stern Around the World courses such as Economy & Business in Singapore, which includes an immersive weeklong class trip to Singapore. To ensure all students’ ability to fulfill this new requirement in a way that best matches their interests, we are also expanding financial aid to make every Global Experience option accessible for students with demonstrated financial need.
- New Signature Experience Series (launched Fall 2022) – This past fall 2022, we unveiled the Signature Experience Series, which you can think of as a series of annual orientations aimed at reconnecting individual classes at an iconic New York City location. We are in the throes of planning for our fall 2023 Signature Experience Series, but to give you an idea of what we mean, last year sophomores took a New York Harbor cruise, juniors visited Ellis Island, and seniors celebrated at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The Series was well attended and from student feedback we learned that, even for upperclass students, most met at least one new classmate and got to see a new NYC landmark.
What are your program’s two biggest differentiators from other top undergraduate business programs? How do these prepare students for their careers?
From the career standpoint, NYU Stern’s location in New York City and proximity to companies across industries–finance, consulting, tech, media, marketing–gives students a huge advantage. Many are able to explore multiple internships each year, allowing them to find out in what type of environment they can thrive and what excites them. In addition, Stern alumni are extremely committed, both in an official capacity–representing their firms on campus–and through more organic mentorship and networking support. By leveraging New York City and the strength of the Stern and NYU network, students quickly gain exposure to a wide range of career paths and receive the practical insights and hands-on skills they need to be successful.
What separates your graduates from other business school graduates?
In addition to the personal development that they get from attending college in New York City and fulfilling their Global Experience requirement, the flexibility of the Stern curriculum gives them the academic space to explore their passions beyond business, like a foreign language, computer science, philosophy, or a musical instrument. Giving students the freedom to develop an academic plan that fulfills all parts of their personality helps set them up for the demands of adulthood and find what will sustain them long term. We certainly pride ourselves on academic excellence, but we also want to make sure students have the opportunity to develop themselves outside of the Stern curriculum.
Explain the career services, programming, and extracurriculars that give your students an advantage in career outcomes?
Stern undergraduate students have the benefit of the world-class NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development and the in-house Stern Professional Development & Career Education (PDCE) team. These two teams collaborate to ensure that Stern students have the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue career paths that are the best fit for their values, interests, and strengths. On top of this, NYU Stern’s numerous student organizations offer invaluable education, mentorship and training for a wide range of career paths–from finance and accounting to consulting, tech, marketing, media/entertainment, luxury/retail, real estate, social impact, and more.
What are two key qualities that prospective students must possess to land a spot in your program?
We are not looking for any one or two specific things in future Stern students. I am the father of two recent college graduates and I remember the college application process well. What I tried to instill in my children at the time, and what I would encourage any high schooler to do, is to focus on being the best they can be, come to understand what makes them unique, think about how they can bring their special skills and aptitudes to bear on their future community, take courses that interest and challenge them, and go for their goals. I truly believe there is a college out there for every student.
When alumni look back on their time in your undergraduate business program, what would they consider to be their signature experience?
Given the prominent role that New York City plays at NYU, alumni certainly feel a close connection to the city itself. So any experience that takes advantage of our locational endowment is one that is likely going to be seen as a signature. So, in time, I think students will look back on things like the new NYC Consulting Capstone course and the Signature Experience Series because they will have gotten to experience NYC in ways that would not otherwise have been possible, and they will have done so in partnership with their NYU Stern community.
What is the most underrated feature of your undergraduate business program and how does it enhance the experience for your business majors?
NYU Stern has one of the most – if not the most – robust Social Impact learning ecosystem out there. We have had a required four-course Social Impact Core in our curriculum since 2004; it is truly unique. We also offer a concentration in Sustainable Business and are able to draw on expertise from Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business and Center for Business and Human Rights. Students can explore this area in even more depth outside the classroom through our Social Impact Fellows program, Social Impact book clubs, student-led Stern clubs, or even through our Social Impact Stipend program.
Which employers are the biggest consumers of your undergraduate talent and what have they told you about your alumni that make them so special?
Many Stern graduates will go on to work in the financial services industry, consulting, as well as a variety of roles in the tech and startup world. They also consistently pursue roles in entertainment and media, advertising, luxury marketing, accounting, and in nonprofit and government entities. Regardless of in which industry they pursue a career, Stern students are consistently praised as having both the soft skills (EQ) and technical skills (IQ) that are necessary to succeed in the ever-evolving business landscape.
What else would you like readers to know about your program?
We get asked about our academic program and co-curricular opportunities across all of our Pillars, and we are proud of all of those things. But what people might not know is just how special our community is. If you were to ask anyone here what they like most about NYU Stern, I think many would tell you that it’s the people. There is something intangible, but we all know it’s here. At its core, Stern is a supportive community where everyone can grow and excel.
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