Towson University College of Business & Economics
The central focus of the College of Business and Economics (CBE) at Towson University is to “transform students into professionals.” It’s in its tagline.
How does it prepare students for careers? Towson CBE builds experiential and career preparedness directly into its curriculum. Business students leave with a Microsoft Excel and HubSpot social media certification for their resumes. Other certificates and credentials are available in different concentrations, including Bloomberg Terminal, SAP Recognition Award, and Google AdWords. In fact, during the 2021-2022 academic year, College of Business and Economics students earned almost 3,000 professional certifications for their resumes.
Further, all Towson Business Administration, Accounting, and Business Systems and Processing majors – about 650 students per year – are required to compete in the Live Strategy Case Competition, a relevant career-oriented internship, and a business communications course that features a professional development lab. Students who take the upper-level Professional Experience course (required for every business major but economics) must secure a 120-hour professional internship.
“(Towson University) has a great reputation in the Maryland Business Community for getting their students ready for the real world,” says Jimmy Lien, regional business director for Cintas Corporation which worked with the school for its Live Strategy Case Competition. He is also a 2002 graduate of Towson’s business college with a degree in business administration and a concentration in marketing.
“The business school has greatly grown with their connections to major companies in the Mid-Atlantic Region since I graduated. It has done a great job growing relationships with major Fortune 500 companies like Cintas in the area, and created meaningful connections between students and these businesses,” he tells Poets&Quants in this 2022 article.
“Towson has a strong reputation for preparing their graduates to make an immediate impact in the real world upon graduation and I think this Live Strategy Case Competition is a big part of that.”
A HIGH-VALUE BUSINESS EDUCATION
CBE is the largest undergraduate business program in the Maryland State University System with more than 3,200 current students, 29,000 alumni, 4 undergraduate majors, 11 concentrations or tracks, 7 minors, and 3 accelerated B.S./M.S. programs. It is accredited by the AACSB in both business and accounting, a distinction achieved by just about 1% of schools worldwide.
At the same time, it can feel like a small college. Average class size is 30 and 80% of its students come from Maryland and most stay after graduation. Thirty-one percent of Towson’s latest class are first-generation college students, and 42% are under-represented minorities. Forty percent are women.
CBE students get an impressive bang for their buck. Towson is ranked as the best value university in Maryland with tuition at just over $10,000 per year. As for its mission for turning students into professionals, 2021 graduates reported 95% positive career outcomes six months after graduation with an average starting salary of $54,077.
Read more about CBE’s professional development efforts here.
P&Q INTERVIEW WITH JUDY HARRIS
We asked Judy Harris, interim dean of Towson’s College of Business and Economics, to tell us more about how it prepares students for their first, second, and third jobs. The interview is presented below.
What are recent and upcoming program developments and innovations that will enhance the experience of future students?
We evaluate our curriculum annually for currency and relevancy and to ensure our students are learning both theory and practical applications. Recently, we’ve integrated additional emerging technologies into the curriculum, including assignments on machine learning and data analytics; incorporated professional certifications into the curriculum, including SAP, Bloomberg, HubSpot, and Excel Professional certification; aligned the curriculum in relevant disciplines with professional organizations, including SHRM and CFP; and integrated a soft skills lab element focusing on emotional intelligence into our business communications course.
What are your program’s two biggest differentiators from other top undergraduate business programs? How do these prepare students for their careers?
Career-readiness is at the center of everything we do and teach in CBE. The first differentiator is our focus on professional and career development, which is woven throughout the student journey. For example, our curriculum includes a required internship paired with a reflective classroom component that allows students to make connections between their internship and what they learn in the classroom and provides them with the opportunity to learn from other students’ experiences in a supportive and inclusive environment.
The second differentiator is our commitment to offering current and relevant curriculum. For example, in addition to the innovations described above, we’ve integrated analytics throughout the curriculum, including a core business course focused on predictive and prescriptive analytics that all business and accounting majors are required to take. We’ve also added a concentration in business analytics.
What separates your graduates from other business school graduates?
We are guided by our “Profile of a Graduate” that we developed in partnership with members of the business community. The profile describes the knowledge and skills that are built into the curriculum and that we want our graduates to possess. These include soft skills like professionalism, oral and written communication, teamwork, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness, and critical and creative thinking, as well as hard skills like digital and visual fluency. Our corporate partners report that these are the skills they most want to see in graduates applying to entry-level positions, and CBE makes sure our students feel confident in those abilities.
Explain the career services, programming, and extracurriculars that give your students an advantage in career outcomes?
Each discipline in the college has an assigned “professional development partner” who works closely with the University’s Career Center and has fostered relationships with the local business community. The PDP advises first and second year students on their course schedules and assists with the internship and career selection process for juniors and seniors. Students really benefit from having an integrated, in-house student academic and career services staff to help them have a smooth academic experience and achieve their post-graduation goals.
Also, the College has a strong focus on co- and extra-curricular competitions, including a strategic sales competition, business model competitions for budding entrepreneurs, a data analytics and visualization competition, and a wealth management competition out of our financial planning track. In these competitions, students prepare and present pitches, ideas, and projects to industry professionals and can win scholarship prizes. These competitions offer students the opportunity to simulate real-world business plans, get hands-on experience, and network with regional business partners to potentially land a job interview with one of the participating or sponsoring companies.
What are two key qualities that prospective students must possess to land a spot in your program?
Successful CBE students are highly determined and self-motivated. Our business administration and accounting programs are screened, meaning that students must be successful in a set of lower-level foundational courses to be admitted to the program. However, because we don’t limit the number of students who can get into the program, their ability to be admitted lies much within their own control. Our feedback from the business community says that CBE students are known for a desire to excel and a drive to succeed.
When alumni look back on their time in your undergraduate business program, what would they consider to be their signature experience?
One of the most unique aspects of our program is the Live Strategy Case Competition in which all business administration and accounting seniors participate. Every semester, we build into our capstone course in Strategic Management a real-world case that we’ve developed with a business partner. Students work in interdisciplinary teams to provide a solution to a real business problem and the best teams from each section of the course present their solution to C-suite executives from the organization. Past corporate participants and sponsors have included Stanley Black & Decker, Under Armor, McCormick & Co., and J.P. Morgan. The participating executives have been consistently impressed with the quality of Towson University students’ ideas and presentations. Some of the students who have competed have even been hired on to implement the best ideas that came out of the case competition.
What is the most underrated feature of your undergraduate business program and how does it enhance the experience for your business majors?
One of my favorite things about Towson University is that we offer the advantages of a large university and the vibe of a small college, and students may not fully appreciate that until they get here. Being the second largest University in the Maryland State System with an undergraduate business program of over 3,000 students from a wide variety of backgrounds, we’re able to offer all the professional and social opportunities of a large state school, including 18 business-oriented student organizations, while keeping class sizes hovering around 30 students. Fewer than 2% of our courses have more than 39 students enrolled. Because we value small class sizes and don’t have teaching assistants, students can depend on our faculty to really get to know them and provide mentorship in the competitions and throughout their time in CBE.
And the mentorship doesn’t end with faculty. We are so impressed by our students’ willingness and enthusiasm to support their classmates and peers in the competitions and beyond. We consider the diversity of our student body to be one of our college’s most impactful features. CBE values a culture of inclusiveness and we have seen the effects of that resonate with our student body.
Which employers are the biggest consumers of your undergraduate talent and what have they told you about your alumni that make them so special?
Employers consistently tell us that our graduates are well-prepared, professional, and willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Companies that frequently hire graduates from our college include Morgan Stanley, T. Rowe Price, McCormick & Co., CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Northrup Grumman, and Wells Fargo. Our students are entering the workplace with a firm grasp on the soft skills and technical skills required to be successful in their first jobs.
What else would you like readers to know about your program?
Towson University is truly a hidden gem offering a fantastic, high-quality education that incorporates accredited business core content with applied and experiential learning. We bridge the gap between education and professionalism to ensure CBE students graduate career-ready, both professionally and technically. The College of Business and Economics at Towson University is a top-notch, first-rate education offering a wealth of opportunity at an affordable price. We transform students into professionals, connect them to opportunities and help them launch their careers in accounting, business, and economics through innovative, experiential programs. Towson University is Maryland’s university of opportunity, and the College of Business and Economics exemplifies that.
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