Business Schools With The Best College Experience

New York University, Stern School of Business. Courtesy photo

Also as part of the alumni survey, we ask two questions about key and global experiences that shaped their undergraduate experience. The first is: “Were you engaged in a ‘signature experience’ (project work, simulations, experiential learning, senior thesis, or capstone project) through the business program that was a key part of your business learning?” The next is: “Were you engaged in a global immersion, trip or project of any kind through the business program?” We then combine the “yes” answers from those two questions and average them. Like the 10-point-scaled questions, we did a 75-25 weight from the Class of 2016 and Class of 2015 to figure this year’s final results.

For the second year in a row, New York University’s Stern School of Business topped this category. The reason? This year, about 96% of the class reported having a key global immersion, trip, or project during their time at Stern. Judging on Stern’s smorgasbord of international options, it’s hard to believe the number wasn’t a perfect 100%. Highlighting Stern’s international options has to be the International Studies Program. Launched in 2001 after a donation from the Barr Family, the semester-long course sends all juniors to a city in Europe, Asia, or South America during spring break to study a specific industry and meet with company executives as well as take in the local culture.

“ISP in my opinion is the trademark of Stern’s undergraduate program,” one Class of 2016 alum told us in the alumni survey. “It was a tremendous learning experience to participate in a company strategy class for a semester and then do an international onsite visit to consolidate the context of the class and basis of understanding.”

Another highlight for Stern students is the International Business Exchange Program (IBEX). The semester-long study abroad program is offered to students after their junior years and features 14 elite business schools around the world. “I participated in the International Business Exchange program (IBEX), which is a semester-long exchange at another business school somewhere in the world,” another Class of 2016 alum said. “I spent my semester attending Sciences Po in Paris, France. It was an absolutely phenomenal experience, particularly because I got to take classes at another renowned institution that weren’t offered at NYU.”

The school reports that half of all Stern undergrads study abroad for at least one semester during their time at NYU.


The University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management is the other school that always finishes first or second in this particular category. Carlson graduates reported the second highest rate of international immersions, trips, or projects, with 96% of the Class of 2016 saying they had at least one global experience. The Carlson Global Institute is a dedicated office and team to make sure all business undergrads have ample opportunities to study and travel abroad. Short-term trips during January terms, spring breaks, and after the spring semester in May and June are organized by the office as are full-fledged semester-long study abroad opportunities. Students may also spend time doing experiential abroad trips.

“Every undergrad at the Carlson School has to complete some sort of global learning whether that is a week or a full academic year,” one Class of 2016 Carlson grad said in the alumni survey. “The J-term trip I went on was an amazing experience that opened my eyes to business practices in South America and allowed the opportunity to connect with the professor and my peers on a deeper level.”


If done right, signature experiences like capstone projects, consulting experience, or studying or working abroad can lead to dream jobs immediately after graduation. For Virginia’s Unwalla, a month working in “real-world consulting” for a winery in Mendoza, Argentina played a role in her landing a job at AB-InBev immediately after graduating from McIntire.

“I worked on a project team comprised of business and engineering students, and we were tasked with addressing a business challenge of a boutique winery,” Unwalla said in the alumni survey. “We gathered insights via interviews, surveys, and other research methods to inform a playbook-style recommendation on tourism opportunities at the winery. The experience of working on a cross functional team to address a real business challenge was truly a transformative experience. We even presented part of our playbook in Spanish.”

For students thinking using a key experience to stray from the “traditional” business path, Unwalla offers some sage advice.

“So many people fall into the trap of ending up in careers because that’s what everyone else is doing around them. Often times, the term business degree can get a bad rap because of that. A business degree is so much more than consulting, or finance, or accounting, because you can make it as creative, artistic, as analytical as you want. It’s a complete spectrum.”

(See the next three pages for how all 88 ranked schools scored on the three metrics making up the alumni experience category of the rankings.)

The 2018 Special Report On Undergraduate Business Education

Ranking The Best Undergraduate Business Schools In The U.S.

How We Crunched The Numbers To Come Up With Our Ranking

2018 Report Card: How Business Majors Grade Their Own Undergraduate Programs

Acceptance Rates For The Best Undergraduate Business Programs

Average SAT Scores At The Top Undergraduate Business Schools

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