At James Madison University, all business students start out their business education with classes in accounting, analytics, calculus, economics, and computer information systems. But alongside these hard skills that the College of Business knows will lay the foundation for each student to be successful, is a course in interpersonal skills.
In the Interpersonal Skills course, students will not only learn from the mistakes of others by learning from case studies, they will also engage in experiential exercises to learn hands-on where interpersonal communication breaks down, and the damage it can do.
Students at James Madison University apply for admission into the College of Business at the end of their sophomore year. Once a student has completed the lower-level core classes, and a student is accepted into the College of Business, they can begin working on their upper-level core classes, which consist of a series of Integrated Business courses in Management, Finance, Operations, and Marketing, as well as the Legal and Ethical Environment of Business, and a course in Strategic Management.
As students work on COB300, a 12-credit integrated class intended at helping students tie together the different aspects of business, they are separated into small teams made up of students from different functional areas to get to work creating a business plan. It is then that James Madison business students realize that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
In a survey conducted by Poets&Quants, over 80 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that they were engaged in a signature experience while at James Madison University, and several of them mentioned that the process of starting a business from the ground up and giving a final presentation at the end of the semester helped them learn to think about issues from different perspectives.
James Madison University is a public research university in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It’s College of Business offers students a four-year undergraduate business program, where students can choose to major in Accounting, Computer Information Systems, Economics, Finance, International Business, Management, Marketing, and Quantitative Finance.
The college received 4,440 applications to join their undergraduate business program in Fall 2018, where students sought to have business as their first or second majors. In total, 3,033 students were admitted, and 919 of those admitted matriculated.
The school shared that of the 76 percent of incoming Fall 2018 students who reported their SAT scores, the average math score was 609, average verb scores were 608, and average overall SAT score was 1217. Only 20 percent of the incoming Fall 2018 students submitted their ACT scores, and the average was 26. The average high school GPA was 3.89.
The school said that in-state students would pay $12,016 per year in tuition, therefore costing an approximate $48,064 over four years, while out-of-state tuition is $28,416 per year, adding up to $113,664 in tuition over four years. The average scholarship amount given to students entering the business college in Fall 2018 was $7,844. In response to the P&Q survey, over 60 percent of Class of 2016 alumni said they believed their business degree was worth its cost in tuition, and that their business degree would assist them in climbing to a new socioeconomic status.
CAPSTONE PROJECT HAS BEEN A ‘LIFE CHANGING’ EXPERIENCE
One of the most memorable experiences that a James Madison business student goes through is their capstone project, which many alumnus of the Class of 2016 said left a deep impression on them.
A graduate who worked on a Computer Information Systems capstone project said described it as “a real working experience” that taught him about planning and teamwork.
Greg Frattaroli, a Business Management major with a Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship concentration, said that as part of his Capstone project, he worked on a consulting project for a local barn and shed manufacturer.
“The project was to institute an HR division that could withstand the organization’s scaling aspirations from about 40 employees to 150+ over the next 5 years,” Frattaroli, who now works as a Senior Analytic Specialist at Wells Fargo, said. “It was a life changing experience.”
Samir Desai, also from the Class of 2016, said that while at James Madison College of Business, he was part of two major projects that impacted his choice of career, and said that the program’s career advising was exceptional.
For students looking to take on a little competition, there’s plenty to choose from. Marketing undergraduates can work with Innovation MBA students to compete in the Google Online Marketing Challenge where they put their AdWords proficiency to the test, while Computer Information Systems majors can join the ITERA Case Competition, where they spend a month working to solve a real-world telecommunications problem and present their solutions to a panel of judges including executives from Cisco, Facebook, and Excelacom. Social media enthusiasts can test their skills with the Ball State Social Media Competition where they solve a difficult B2B social media problem, while economics students can join the College FED Challenge to research and analyze economic conditions before presenting their analysis.
An alumnus of the Class of 2016 said that her participation in the Google Online Marketing Challenge was an excellent experience and taught her many different skills. She said that the business program at James Madison gave her exceptional opportunities to nurture and improve her business skills, and that the quality of teaching in business courses was outstanding.
The list of student competitions available continues on to include the CFA Investment Research Challenge, Accenture Innovation Challenge, Deloitte Innovation Case Competition, Grant Thornton Ethics Case, National Sales Challenge, TCU Values and Ventures Competition and more.
As part of the school’s Engaged Learning efforts, students also go on visits to companies and networking events to learn more about industry positions and meet professionals. In October 2018, business students at James Madison University in a Supply Chain class visited Target’s distribution center in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, to learn about operational challenges the company had experienced.
Over 85 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that their would recommend the undergraduate business program to a close friend or colleague, and almost 70 percent said that the program prepared them well for the world of work.
NEW SEMESTER-LONG STUDY ABROAD OPTIONS ON THE WAY
While there are no required global business courses, the university’s Center for Global Engagement offers 85 different semester abroad opportunities, eight of which are business-specific.
Students can also opt to complete the semester-long integrated business COB300 course in Antwerp, made possible through coordination with the University of Antwerp.
Frattaroli shared with P&Q that he was involved in a two-week study abroad program to Brussels, Belgium and Geneva, Switzerland as part of his International Business Management education.
“The month leading up the the trip involved heavy coursework,” he said. “It was amazing to see the policies and organizations we learned about spring to life in the form of tours and speakers!”
Another alumnus from the Class of 2016 who is now working as a Financial Modeling Consultant at Deloitte shared that he participated in an Experiential Learning Trip to Washington D.C. and Arlington, VA, while at the College of Business. “This experience was crucial in helping me understand the implications of a variety of career paths,” he said. “This provided enormous value to me in terms of professional development.”
In 2019, the university will offer semester-long study abroad program to Belgium, England, Italy, Spain and Scotland. But when it comes to short-term travel abroad opportunities that last for less than a month, there are programs available in over 80 countries, from Brunei Darussalam and South Africa, to The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, and France.
Programs traveling abroad in 2019 include sending students for an environmental exploration in Guatemala, exploring travel, tourism, and aviation in Romania, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe, looking at environmental and energy sustainability in Germany, and looking at the global supply chain in Panama and Colombia.
For those wishing to travel without leaving the country, the school also has options for students to travel to Los Angeles, New York City, Georgia, and US Virgin Islands.
The school shared that about 65 percent of students in both the classes of 2017 and 2018 completed at least one business-specific internship before graduation, and about 53 percent of graduates from both classes found full-time jobs within months of graduation.
The average salary for business majors with full-time employment from the Class of 2017 was $59,481, while the average salary for Class of 2018 graduates was $58,257.
About 44 percent of graduates from both classes with full-time jobs received signing bonuses, and the average amount in both cases was about $4,500.
The school counts among its list of top employers companies including Accenture, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fannie Mae, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
About 60 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said they believe their business degree from James Madison University is instrumental in helping them reach their dream career, and 76 percent said that their first job after graduating was in their desired job function.
WHAT ALUMNI SAY
“COB 300 gave me so many invaluable experiences and lessons that helped me get to where I’m at today. Through it, I mastered my skills on working in a team environment while still having the opportunity to hone my individual craft and work ethic. The experience was the ultimate test image of hard work pays off and I reaped the benefits of it for years afterwards.” – Class of 2014 alum
“AWEA Wind Energy Competition. I was required to work with engineering students to coordinate a marketable business plan for a micro-wind turbine and present the business plan at the AWEA conference. Collaboration, market research, and business plan construction experience.” – Class of 2014 alum
“During the spring semester of my senior year, I was one of 16 JMU marketing majors selected to participate in the Google Online Marketing Challenge. I took a class from a marketing professor during which we learned how to use Google AdWords. Each team selected a real non-profit client and used AdWords to help their business. We also created and managed a Google+ account for the client and wrote about the success of both the AdWords and Google+ accounts based on metrics we viewed (impressions, clicks, interactions, etc.). Google judged all of the teams and my team was named a Global Finalist in one category of the competition.” – Class of 2014 alum
Where the Class of 2017 went to work:
1. Accenture 6%
2. Ernst & Young 6%
3. KPMG 5%
4. McGladrey (RSM) 4%
5. Deloitte 3%
6. Booz Allen Hamilton 3%
7. Fannie Mae 3%
8. PWC 2%
9. IBM 2%
10. Cherry Baekhart 2%