Business Schools With The Best College Experience

Boston College Carroll School of Management. The Carroll School debuted in this year’s ranking in 9th place, largely because of stellar alumni survey results. Courtesy photo

At the heart of the undergraduate business experience at Virginia’s McIntire School is the Integrated Core Curriculum (ICE). Despite being implemented 12 years ago, the school continues to innovate it on a yearly-basis. And the results show. The past two years alumni have raved about the program in response to our survey.

“One of the things we continually think about is what do we need to add,” says Carl Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School, “what do we need to take away, and what do we need to do to continually innovate the program?”

Zeithaml says a task force of faculty members alongside Ryan Nelson, the associate dean of the undergraduate program to evaluate and change the program if necessary each year. The team is currently evaluating potential changes to next fall’s ICE curriculum and programming. The most recent significant changes came a little over a year ago when business analytics and big data decision making-related courses were added as required core courses for the spring semester. “The modular nature of ICE allows us to make those changes,” Zeithaml explains.

At least one recent alum describes the experience as “life-changing.”

“McIntire’s program for third students is call the Integrated Core Experience is a cross-discipline, real-world learning environment that encourages and promotes the intersections of all areas of business,” the Class of 2016 alum told us in the alumni survey. “We worked in groups on projects that required skills and knowledge of marketing and finance or strategy and organizational behavior. It was definitely a life-changing experience that was capped with helping a large company solve a relevant real world problem.”


As opposed to Virginia McIntire’s two-year program, business majors at Boston College plunge into business classes from the get-go. “We are blessed to have great students that come in here with great achievements and they are ready to go,” says Ethan Sullivan, the senior associate dean of undergraduate programs at the Carroll School.

UVA McIntire Students during a January-Term trip. McIntire School of Commerce photo

Students are involved in business-specific orientations during the summer before they matriculate into Boston College. The Friday before courses begin, students are taken out to tour Boston and learn about the history of commerce in the city. Highlighting the Carroll experience is the Portico Program, which begins the first year. “We came up with Portico about 12 years ago when we thought, we need to feel less like a major with a bunch of courses and more like a community,” Sullivan says. Now in it’s ninth year, Sullivan says the program has changed and updated every year. The three credit, seminar-style course has an average of 18 students and the professors of each course serve as academic advisors for their students over the next four years. Sullivan says students form strong relationships that last the rest of their undergraduate experience and sometimes beyond. “We’ve even had a marriage come through the Portico program,” Sullivan says.

During their senior year, students can be teaching assistants for the freshmen Portico courses.

“I was a Portico TA which allowed me to not only teach and mentor freshmen business students but also revisit the business ethics and philosophy topics in the senior Portico TA capstone class that brought a new lens and meaning to topics we learned in our first year,” one Class of 2016 alum told us on the alumni survey.


Beyond the Portico Program, Sullivan says the school’s Jesuit roots shape what the school and students prioritize. According to Sullivan, the Carroll School of Management, along with Boston College’s other schools, embraces the Catholic tenant of “cura personalis,” a Latin phrase that translates as “care for the entire person.” This manifests in many different ways and likely plays a role in the rave reviews on the alumni survey. “We’re really committed to the formation of the whole person,” Sullivan says.

Some professors at the Carroll School use The Examen Prayer, an ancient Catholic prayer that stems from St. Ignatius Loyola. The idea is to reflect on spiritual movement in your day and gratitude and reflection for events in your day. “We have faculty members teaching financial accounting who will use this exercise to reflect on what it’s like to be a more self-aware accountant,” Sullivan says.

Beyond that, Sullivan explains that the current generation of business students care more about doing good for the world. “There is a real draw to what some are calling conscientious capitalism,” Sullivan says. Looking beyond the bottom line is more than a trend, Sullivan believes. “They (current students) see the importance of all the various stakeholders of a company,” Sullivan says. “This doesn’t seem like a trend, but more like a sea change.”

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