Pitt Celebrates 20 Years In Undergraduate Business Education

University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration

University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration

We have a technology tool that allows students to keep track of how they are doing across these competencies. It has a bit of a gamification element, and students can share information on how they are doing. For example, we can say who is in the top ten on the leadership board, and then students can promote that via social media. It creates an incentive for students to do well, participate in activities and develop themselves professionally.

The school has taken an unusual approach to studying abroad, almost akin to that of an MBA program with satellite locations and internship opportunities. Why has the school gone in this direction? 

I don’t think there is an undergraduate business program out there that in some way doesn’t have some sort of study abroad component. For us, we are taking that notion to the next level. It is not just study abroad, rather it is an integrated and professional academic experience. The experience you have is not taking time off from what you are doing academically to study abroad.  For us, it is giving you academic content in a global context, and then at the same time using that to develop you as a professional.

To do this, we created an expanded portfolio of international experiences and international internships for students, which we call the Global Business Institute. We launched this a year-and-a-half ago, and there are five anchor locations where we have business courses and opportunities for international internships so students can have a truly international experience.

We launched operations a year ago in London, Florence and Sydney and this year we are opening two more locations in Buenos Aires and Shanghai.

Those anchor locations, coupled with an expanded set of opportunities for international internships, is how we are trying to help students develop global competencies.

What is the school’s approach to working with recruiters, and how do companies view the school?

We launched a corporate partners program when I came on board, and we did that because we don’t like to look at companies as just recruiters. They are our partners, and we want them here. They engage in a variety of professional development activities with students, from facilitating workshops to sending employees to be judges in school case competitions. We want them to feel very integrated in what we do. They get involved with students starting as freshmen. The expectations of our top recruiters is that they get to know us well, and we get to know them well. That allows us to help make sure we are getting the right match because recruiting is really about fit.

We have a new major in supply chain business information systems and human resources, and as a result we’re getting lots of different companies and industries looking at us now than were in the past.

How competitive is it to get into the University of Pittsburg’s College of Business Administration?

It is very competitive. We have a lot of applications and do really well on yield. This year, we admitted the largest class of freshman on record. We have very high quality standards for admissions, so it was very competitive. We received over 30,000 applications and of that, admitted less than one-third. Our final class is 375, so it is very competitive. It is getting more competitive because applications are going up and the students who we admit are picking us as their first choice.

What is some advice you’d give to high school students and parents who are starting the process of searching for a strong undergraduate business program?

There is nothing like visiting a campus and talking to people to get a feel for a school and its surrounding area. Rankings are important, but fit is equally important.

Students also need to think really carefully and be open and flexible about what they are going to study. At our school, we work very hard to give students a full experience as freshman to expose them to as much as possible so they can make the best choices for their career. You need to make sure you are picking a school that gives you a number of options as your interests will change and develop. You might think you want to do just one thing, but you should pick a school that has that and other options, too. You should look for that flexibility that will allow you to personalize your learning experience.

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