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Brigham Young University is a faith-based school, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And because of the religious affiliation, alumnus Robert Carroll says people will sometimes choose BYU over places like Harvard and Stanford.
Carroll graduated from the BYU Marriott School of Management with the Class of 2014, and says his classmates, many who had turned down prestigious schools, made the environment pretty competitive.
But the quality of teaching matched the quality of students, he says. “We had an advantage with faculty in the same way we did with students,” he says. “We had professors who might have been teaching at Wharton or HBS, but BYU can sell the religious movement and bring them in.”
And due to the variety of people drawn to the religion, the Marriott School is a little different from other business schools in terms of academics, too. Associate Dean Michael Thompson says they think of themselves as a full-service business school, rather than a highly specialized one.
“We offer programs like accounting and marketing, which any business school would have, but we also have an information systems major,” he says. “It’s a pretty broad array. Life might be easier for us if we were more tightly focused. But we have a lot of students who are interested in those other fields, and they’re doing well in them.”
CURRICULAR CHANGE TO MEET EARLIER RECRUITING CYCLES
The business major at the Marriott School is a two-year program. Undergraduates complete general university requirements in the first two years at BYU, and then enter the business school as juniors.
In the past, Randy Smith, managing director of undergraduate programs at Marriott, says students with certain majors, like finance, would dive immediately into specialized coursework, while others in majors like marketing or human resources would take a year of general business courses, and specialize in the final year.
“But these last few years, employers are coming to campus earlier and earlier, and we’ve found that these students are not being very well prepared for internships and jobs,” Smith says. “So two years ago we flipped it upside down. Day one, everyone comes in and starts taking specialty courses.”
Smith says the change was a good one, and they’ve seen a lot of success. But it did mean incoming juniors would have to be better prepared when applying to the Marriott School. To remedy this, he says they increased their interaction with freshmen and sophomores via an on-campus internship program.
“Freshmen can take a three credit class, and students are put into teams to work on projects for companies,” Smith says. “We’ve had a number of companies sign up, and the students present to them at the end of the semester. Hundreds of freshmen and sophomores participate each year. It’s a real world experience, and they don’t have to leave campus.”
FEATURING NEW PROGRAM, ‘LEARN, DO, BECOME’
This program is an early taste of Marriott School education. Associate Dean Thompson says they focus a great deal on immersive experiences. As other schools are beginning to offer courses online at a massive scale, Marriott has gone in the other direction, emphasizing project work and real-life experiences.
For example, a program created a couple years ago, called “Learn, Do, Become,” allows Marriott students to sign up for an intensive semester-long course in a particular specialization – like global supply chain management. They’ll learn tools and concepts in class, and later in the semester, begin working on an actual project, provided by a global supply chain organization. The project will continue through the summer and the following academic year.
“By the time you finish, you have a product that you present to the leaders of that organization,” Thompson says. “It’s the opposite of taking a course online, and it’s a premiere example of immersive learning.”
HANDS-ON LEARNING A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE MARRIOTT EXPERIENCE
Another alumnus, Michael McQuade from the Class of 2014, says the hands-on learning at Marriott was really cool. In particular, he enjoyed a strategy class where students participated in a competitive marketplace simulation.
“There were 10 teams of students and you’re all competing in the same environment – selling computers or some tech-related product,” he says. “Within the scenario each week, you can make choices, like, are you going to develop a better product? How are you going to market it? How are you going to price it? And then the next day, you see what the sales were like, and you can compare how you did versus other companies.”
As the simulation continues, he says teams could lower or raise the quality of their product and could change the marketing and pricing strategies. “It was real time, and you were competing,” McQuade says. “And you were using the tools you learned in class.”
70% OF STUDENTS HAVE A SECOND LANGUAGE
Many students also participate in international study programs, and the Marriott School has a global management center that coordinates a number of programs. Thompson says they’re not traditional study abroad programs, where students live abroad for a semester. Instead, the Marriott programs are typically four to five weeks long, and students travel across the world to visit global companies and interact with business leaders in their particular fields of study.
“About 70% of our students have a second language, mostly because of the mission experience for the church,” Thompson says. “So there’s an appetite to keep the language going and to acquire a business vocabulary in those languages.”
In addition to the global business excursions, Thompson says they also offer business language courses in Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Korean, and Japanese. “Quite a few of our students take advantage of those classes,” Thompson says. “And if you take one and couple it with some international courses in your discipline, you can earn a Global Management Certificate.”
NO OTHER SCHOOL RATES HIGHER FOR ALUMN SATISFACTION OF DEGREE’S COST IN TIME AND TUITION
And perhaps the most collaborative hands-on learning experience is participating in one of Marriott’s various clubs. “We place a tremendous emphasis on co-curricular experiences – experiences outside the classroom that really complement and round out our students’ development,” he says. “The student associations connect directly to the programs we offer, and every program that has a major has a student organization with student officers.”
The presidents of the student associations meet regularly in what Marriott calls the Professional Development Forum. Thompson says all the deans attend as well, and the students can share ideas and information between organizations. “Things like, what’s working with your club? How are you getting more women speakers to come to your events?” Thompson says. “It’s been an amazing development for the student experience.”
Carroll, who graduate with the Class of 2014, says the clubs were the most beneficial part of the program for him. “They have a good pipeline to employment opportunities,” he says. “A lot of time and energy goes into networking and preparing for internships and full-time jobs, so I felt like I had more resources from the clubs than I had time for. I was in good hands.”
Overall, the Marriott School received some of the highest ratings from alumni on P&Q’s survey. The school was the highest rated concerning whether the degree was worth its cost in time and tuition, and the fourth highest on the business program’s efforts to bring students into contact with practicing professionals.
The school reports that 79.46% of the Class of 2016 had an internship before graduating, and that 93% had a job within 90 days after graduating. The average starting salary was $56,702, and top employers were Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and Ernst & Young.
WHAT ALUMNI SAY
“We had to complete a capstone project that allowed us to choose the focus of our study. I learned how to build a database to support a website, which deepened my understanding and helped me be more prepared for my job.” – Class of 2014 Marriott alum
“We had to design and develop a functioning information system for a fake company, understanding and solving business problems with a variety of technology. I learned a great deal, including how to interact with stakeholders to glean important concerns and goals, how to work on a team to accomplish difficult tasks on time, and how to design and create beautiful, functional software solutions for businesses.” – Class of 2014 Marriott alum
“I participated in three experiential learning courses where the school paired me and 4-5 other students with a company for a emphasis-specific project. Two of my projects were related to measuring and improving employee satisfaction scores and improving the hiring process for candidates. I led a team for both projects. I eventually got a job with ebay through my ebay contact because he was impressed with my work.” – Class of 2014 Marriott alum
Where the Class of 2016 went to work:
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Deloitte & Touche LLP
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC