At Emory University, Goizueta Business School curriculum begins with a two-day retreat to the North Georgia mountains. Students climb a high ropes course, build bonfires, and swim in the lake, and the trip is meant to foster team-building and signal that they are now part of a new cohort.
Goizueta is a two-year business program. Students apply as sophomores and are admitted in two waves, determined by how quickly they reach junior standing. Some will begin the spring of their sophomore year, and the rest the following fall. The retreat, according to Andrea Hershatter, senior associate dean and director of the BBA program, is meant to mark the transition into the business school with an experience that binds them as a class.
“A significant amount of learning will come from each other, and from stepping outside their comfort zone,” she says. “At the retreat, we introduce all kinds of things that we want our graduates to embody.”
And from that moment, Goizueta students do everything together — even the Emory University P.E. requirement, which Hershatter says they meet by taking the business students on a ski trip to North Carolina. “For fifteen years we’ve been taking almost 200 students by bus to go skiing in the mountains. Many have never been on skis, and it’s a phenomenal bonding experience,” she says.
A COMMUNITY FEEL
Elisse Jean-Pierre, a Goizueta alumna from the Class of 2014, says it was the community-driven atmosphere that initially attracted her to the school. She says she was sometimes the only woman, or only black person in the room, but that the school went out of its way to foster inclusion.
“When I stepped onto campus and spoke to the students about their experiences, I didn’t feel that uncomfortable feeling that I didn’t belong there. Emory facilitated dialogue about issues students were facing, no matter how uncomfortable it may have been to talk about,” she says.
And when she left school and began working, she realized Goizueta had given her the tools to present herself and her ideas in a confident way, even when she wasn’t feeling very confident. “I still take the tools out over two years later when I’m feeling unsure of myself,” she says. “When I began interviewing and working, I realized that other students hadn’t received the same privileges.”
BUSINESS CLUBS BEGIN DURING FIRST YEAR
And Goizueta isn’t all community and outdoor activities. In recent years, the school has added a number of programs focused on expanding opportunity and providing valuable hands-on experiences for their students. They added new entrepreneurship and health innovation concentrations, they created two new joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and business analytics, and they instituted a mandatory senior year capstone that allows students to work on complex, messy real-world projects. “There’s always something new, something we’re about the launch,” Hershatter says.
Curriculum-wise, Hershatter says the Core classes are pretty traditional – students take accounting, finance, and management, among other subjects. But they don’t have to complete the Core immediately. As they work toward their business electives, Hershatter says students have the flexibility to double major or minor outside of the business school. Among the class of 2016, 25% had a second major, and 60% pursued more than one primary area within the BBA program.
In fact, Goizueta tries to make it easy for students to pursue other interests, and the length of the program is a major factor. Hershatter says students can immerse themselves in the business school beginning their freshman year by participating in clubs. But by putting off business school admission until students reach junior academic standing, they’re able to get a well-rounded liberal arts education and explore other interests first.
“The liberal arts are foundational to the undergraduate experience,” Hershatter says. “We’re not a mini MBA program. Our mission within the BBA is to help our students grow intellectually, personally, and professionally.”
A TWO-YEAR PROGRAM THAT DOESN’T TURN STUDENTS AWAY
And making the decision to go to Emory before getting accepted into the business school isn’t too much of a risk. The internal acceptance rate among Emory students is 86%. And Hershatter says they rarely, if ever, send a student away with no hope. “If someone is really passionate about coming to the business school, we will continue to work with them over the semester, until it becomes abundantly clear to them or to us that it is not a good fit,” she says.
And once students are in, there’s a bounty of interesting programs and applied learning opportunities for them. For example, students can take an applied entrepreneurship class, where they are partnered with a startup working out of a local incubator or shared space. Under the guidance of a faculty member, they can work on a project for that startup.
Goizueta also has a program that focuses on farmers in nicaragua. Students help with direct trade and economic development among women producing coffee in Nicaragua, and the course finishes with a trip to the coffee houses where students can spend time with the farmers they’ve been studying.
And students can also take a class in applied integrated marketing communication, where they work in teams on a project for Coca Cola. One of the most memorable years, Hershatter says, was when the students went on a free cruise over spring break to help the company envision how to bring the Coca Cola experience to life.
GOIZUETA REPORTS FROTHY CAREER STATS
Zheng Chen, an alumnus from the Class of 2014, took the class, and says his year’s project was to consult for the company’s smartwater brand, to help them penetrate the college crowd.
“They tailored the project to what we were most familiar with,” he says. “We got to talk to their brand marketing teams, and they provided a budget that we could use to conduct surveys to gather data about what college students are drinking, and to put together a marketing campaign for them.” He says he’s not sure if they Coca Cola ever used their project, but that it was a good experience presenting to high level people in the company.
Overall, alumni rated Goizueta with above average scores on P&Q’s survey. Notably, the school had the fourth highest score for the quality of teaching, and the sixth highest score concerning extracurricular opportunities.
The school reports that 96% of the Class of 2017 had an internship before graduating, and that 94% of the class had job within 90 days after graduating. The average starting salary was $66,472, and top employers were PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and IBM.
WHAT ALUMNI SAY
“I completed a self study project as part of my Real Estate concentration. The project involved the active investing of school funds in real estate and asset management funds. The project required active research into properties, companies, and ventures, as well as, the dissection of many partnership and investor agreements and the presentation of our findings to local Real Estate experts engaged to help advise us on our projects.” – Class of 2014 Goizueta alum
“We had real projects with Coca-cola, Century 21 and Home Depot. Dealing with real clients and project management helped me tremendously in my consulting career.” – Class of 2014 Goizueta alum
“Every single class has a cumulative group-project/deliverable with presentation as part of the curriculum. This preparation for the fundamental, almost inescapable, experience in team-based work in almost all of its positive (and not-so-positive) aspects. Every senior also completes two “senior seminars” as application-base capstones… in addition to providing seemingly-countless additional opportunities provided through our school and in partnership with the larger university, as well as local communities – many of which I was easily able to take advantage of.” – Class of 2014 Goizueta alum
Where the Class of 2017 went to work:
JP Morgan: 8
Newell Brands: 8
Booz Allen Hamilton: 5
Black and Veatch: 4
Grant Thornton: 4
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey: 4