Here’s one fact about Cornell University’s Dyson School you won’t forget: It’s the most selective undergraduate business program in the world. Only 7% of applicants get into the small program where incoming freshmen are just under 100 students. That is an acceptance rate that is even tougher than Harvard Business School which accepts 11% of its MBA applicants. After internal and external transfers into the school, a typical Dyson graduating class numbers only about 250 students.
Students who overcome the hurdles to gain a seat in the class major in applied economics and managment and get to choose from 11 concentrations that range from accounting to strategy. It’s not unusual for a Dyson School student to also be majoring or minoring in a biological science, information science, communication, environmental and sustainability sciences, biometry and statistics, animal science, or food science. In other words, the curriculum here is fairly flexible and allows a lot of opportunity to do much more than study business.
Students say that Dyson’s small class sizes help create opportunities for students to get to know professors on an individual, personal level. And, of course, that intimate setting allows strong bonds to form among studnets. It’s hard not to know many, if not all, of the business school students in your graduating class.
Unlike most undergraduate business schools, Dyson began as an arm of agricultural economics in a land-grant agricultural school more than a century ago. For much of the earlier part of the twentieth century, the focus was on agriculture and food systems, and the department faculty was largely populated by agricultural economists. As the U.S. agricultural sector became a smaller share of the U.S. economy, faculty members began to apply their economic training to Main Street instead of just the agricultural sector.
As an outgrowth of the school’s roots in agriculture and food systems, Dyson still boasts strong course offerings in the environment or social economics, energy economics, international development and trade and emerging markets. And the school’s concentration in agribusiness has long been it’s most popular area of focus.
All students are required to take a fairly rigorous course of analytical methods to include calculus, statistics, micro- and macro-economics, a full year of managerial economics. Students take 40 courses to get a bachelor’s degree and only 15 to 18 of them are in a business major. That means that all the rest, or the majority can be taken anywhere at Cornell University.
In the 2016-17 academic year, the university combined Dyson with its School of Hotel Administration as well as the Johnson Graduate School of Management to create an integrated College of Business. The change should give students greater opportunity to learn across disciplines and collaborate with a broader network of faculty and fellow students. Despite the mashup, the university has said that each school will maintain its unique identity and mission, while their collective capabilities will be strengthened by bringing together faculty, curricular offerings, and programs within a cohesive College.