An impressive 75 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business told Poets&Quants that they were involved in a “signature experience” while working on their undergraduate business degree.
For many of them, their capstone projects where they worked with real organizations deeply influenced where they went after they graduated, both in terms of the industry, and the job scope they accepted. About 83 percent said that their first job after graduating was in a job function they desired, and 78 percent said their first job was even at a company they wanted to work at.
Administrators from Opus College of Business said that 83 percent of students from the Class of 2017 had a business-specific internship before graduation, and in just a couple of months, almost 90 percent of students had found full-time employment. The average salary those students received was $48,000, and their list of top employers included UnitedHealth Group, which hired 27 graduates from Opus, US Bank, 3M, Target, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Allianz, Wells Fargo Ameriprise, and KPMG.
The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic, liberal arts, and archdiocesan university located in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Opus College of Business offers a four-year undergraduate business program, and shared that there are 538 students entering St. Thomas in 2018 that are undeclared business majors.
The full-time enrollment for all business majors in Fall 2018 was 2,358, and the average ACT score, which is required of every students interested in the business school, was 25.
The school estimates that the total four-year cost of attending, covering tuition and fees, is $183,083, with additional expenses such as food, lodging, transportation, and supplies likely to add another $238,766. They also shared that 97 percent of college-wide entering students received some form of scholarship support, and the average amount of scholarship disbursed was $24,000.
Over 60 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that they would recommend the undergraduate business program at Opus College without hesitation to a close friend or colleague, and about 60 percent said that they felt the program had prepared them well for the world of work, and 35 percent of them said they believed their business degree was worth its time in tuition.
At Opus College of Business, undergraduates can choose to major in Accounting, Business Communication, Entrepreneurship, Family Business, Finance, General Business, Human Resources, International Business, Leadership, Business Law, Marketing, and Operations Management.
At the beginning of their business education are classes they must take in basic economics, statistics, mathematics, and communication. Then, the business core includes classes in entrepreneurship and innovation, accounting, business learning, operations and supply chain management, financial management, marketing, organizational work, business law and ethics.
Sheneeta White, Interim Faculty Director of Undergraduate Business Programs at St. Thomas, said that the school recently did a complete revision of the undergraduate business curriculum which now includes 3 business courses available to students in their first year, a comprehensive overview of the functional areas of business, and 10 elective credits within the business program.
“We went from core business curriculum of eight 4-credit courses to a core business curriculum of ten courses and 10 general business elective credits,” White said. “To do this, we replaced seven of the old 4-credit required courses with 2-credit required courses.”
GRADUATION REQUIREMENT? 40 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE
In order to graduate, every student at Opus College of Business must take Business 200: Business Learning Through Service, a required course where students are expected to complete 40 hours of service to the community, as well as undertake a series of reflective seminars.
The noncredit, tuition-free program has been in place since 1991, and has been completed by over 200,000 students, in the US and around the world, and is in line with the Catholic university’s tagline “All for the Common Good”.
An alumni from the Class of 2016 shared that he was part of a Healing Haiti Mission trip, where 13 St. Thomas business undergraduates traveled to the Caribbean country with Healing Haiti a nonprofit organization leading mission trips to the region since 2006. There, students helped to deliver clean water to the residents of Cite Soleil, where cholera continues to devastate the community that is among the poorest of the poor in the world. They also visited Haitian-run business to learn about the unique challenges they faced, and how healthy economies and the long term health of businesses that care help to take care of the communities themselves.
Many alumni also shared their amazing experiences with the London Business Semester opportunity at St. Thomas, where they visited companies and cultural sites while taking classes on the history, customs, economy, politics, and life in Great Britain and the European Union.
Bo Murray, from the Class of 2016, participated in the program in the fall of 2014. “I would highly recommend this program to any current students at St Thomas,” Murray, who works as a Research Associate at Slayton Search Partners, said. “The experiences, curriculum, and culture within the tight knit group is truly an invaluable aspect of my college as well as life experience.
Another alumnus said that he lived in a suburb in Northern London while on the London Business Semester, and commuted to the city center for school via train like the locals. The experienced helped open his mind and influence how he carries himself in the business world today.
About 50 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that they were engaged in a global immersion, trip, or project while at Opus, and shared having traveled to many other countries, including Turkey, Australia, Italy, and Spain.
Anne Marie Keating, a Business Marketing major with a bio-med concentration, said that she studied in Sevilla, Spain, for a semester in her junior year. “My classes were taught in Spanish, and I took international marketing, global economics, biochemistry, intro to international business, and a Spanish language class,” Keating, who now works as a Senior Business Analyst for UnitedHealth Group, said.
Madeline Dunn, a Business and Marketing major from the Class of 2016, said she had the opportunity to study in Italy in Fall of 2014. “I took an international Business, Business Law, Marketing and Italian,” Dunn, who now works as a Sales Representative at Kipsu, Inc., said. “It was a great experience to take my coursework to another country and understand business perspective from another culture.”
Both Keating and Dunn also said that one of the best experiences of their time at the University of St. Thomas was while they were working on their capstone project.
Dunn did her capstone project with a small business in Minnesota, which she described as the “closest experience with a real company” in her community outside of her internships.
“My capstone group was paired with a small business and we sought to understand their business struggles and concerns and offer solutions or ideas to improve those concerns,” Dunn said. “We presented the final result to our teacher and contact at the company.”
Another alumni, who was a Marketing major at Opus, said that she found her Marketing capstone class “incredibly thorough and thoughtful”, where they worked with a real company to help solve a business issue in several ways.
“It (the experience) covered almost every part of Marketing and helped us see how a small business functioned in the real world,” she said. “I was also Summa Cum Laude, for which I had to create a thorough and thoughtful essap. This required a lot of research, thinking, deriving explanations from data, and more.”
MORE THAN 140 STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS ON CAMPUS
For students who wish to gain even more hands on opportunities, St Thomas offers over 140 student organizations to join, with 16 business-specific ones.
Students who are interested in entrepreneurship can join the entrepreneurship society, where they can meet students from all majors who are interested in entrepreneurial careers, startups, and ventures. Other than meeting other students, who could well become a future business partner, students can also become connected with industry professionals, who could become mentors or even angel investors if they have a great idea. For many, the club simply provides a great space to find resources when starting a business, or supporting someone who is starting one.
The student who is interested in a career on Wall Street or in investment banking should join the Investments Club at St. Thomas, where students not only learn about the industry and how it works, but also functions as a place to discuss current market trends and activities, as well as gain hands-on experience managing money using a real-time simulator.
If you’re a woman in business, the Women in Business club at the university provides a space and opportunity to meet others like yourself, find a mentor who is currently in the place you hope to be one day, and begin that path. Connecting with a good mentor is often as important as finding the right job fit, and this club is an important resource with the growing presence that women are having in the world of business today.
As part of the university’s focus on ethics and responsibility, resources has also been dedicated to encouraging diversity and inclusion. About 14 percent of the incoming Fall 2018 students at the university self-identified as belonging to underrepresented minority groups, and Opus College of Business’ Diversity Insights Series brings speakers and panels to the students every quarter to keep them informed on the trending issues in on workplace diversity and inclusion.