The Gies College of Business of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been solidly trending upward in the rankings, coming in at No. 12 this year. The Gies College is up five places from last year’s No. 17, seven places from 2020’s No. 19, and 10 places from its 20th-place finish in 2019.
For those looking for a B-school education that emphasizes cross-functional collaboration and a tight-knit community of support, the Gies College definitely merits consideration. Like other major state universities listed on our ranking, Gies provides a top-notch business education and true university experience in a college town.
This year, Gies had a more selective acceptance rate of 38.93% as compared to last year’s 44.06%. The average SAT score for this past fall’s incoming class was 1408, also up from last year’s average score of 1374.
Gies graduates have strong career outcomes both on the internship and employment front. About 88% of the Class of 2021 had a business-focused internship before graduating, down slightly from last year’s 91.5% for the Class of 2020, and 97.65% of the Class of 2021 were employed full-time within three months of graduation compared to 94.44% of the Class of 2020.
The Gies College is unique in that it is housed in a major and academically strong university but recently terminated its full-time residential MBA program. While the college does have specialized master’s programs, the iMBA and undergraduate programs are the two marquee offerings. Either way, at Gies, undergraduate business students are given opportunities to solve real-world problems by working cross-functionally and supporting one another along the way in an environment that fosters inclusiveness, collaboration, and intellectual curiosity.
With an undergraduate placement rate consistently over 95%, Gies College of Business is graduating students who are prepared to succeed in their careers from day one.
Gies students usually declare their major in their sophomore year from ten distinct majors including accounting, accountancy & data science, supply chain management, finance, information systems, finance & data science, management with a concentration (general or international), marketing, operations management, and finally the last one – strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Uniquely to Gies, first and second year students engage with a job-shadowing program with corporate partners during winter breaks.
Regardless of which major they choose, all Gies undergrads take the Business Core, a select series of courses that offer a foundation in everything, beginning with business dynamics, where they are taught to teach and engage like business leaders, then taking on real issues and recommending solutions to real clients, stretching to global business.
Overall, Gies alumni have a positive outlook on their education. When asked to evaluate how well the Gies program prepared them for the world of work, 2019 alumni gave a 9.2 average rating. Alumni also scored the quality of teaching at Gies at a strong 9.0 average rating and the opportunities available to nurture soft skills at a 9.2.
“Every class project was carefully crafted by professors to meet certain objectives — and I appreciate how employers work closely with the professors to design a curriculum that can make every Gies student marketable and well-prepared when they graduate,” one 2018 alumni told us.
Gies’ thoughtfully designed academic and extracurricular programs provide students with ample opportunities to apply what they’ve learned to real client projects.
“As a supply chain student, I had the opportunity to collaborate with accounting, finance, industrial engineering, aerospace engineering, and chemical engineering students to create a solution for a Fortune 500 company’s problem,” one 2018 alumni told us. “This unique experience effectively taught me how to cross-functionally collaborate with people who attack problems entirely different than I do and examine problems from all perspectives. My team was incredibly stronger because we were bringing together our separate knowledge bases and experiences. I couldn’t have had this experience at any other school; it was a major reason why I chose to attend Gies instead of others I had been admitted into.”
Gies also excels at maintaining international partnerships with world-renowned business schools. Many students study abroad their sophomore or junior year, and others participate in one of the many short-term international programs available.
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) is best known for its prestigious engineering program. And at Gies, business students can tap into that by working alongside their engineering peers through the The Hoeft Technology & Management Program, a joint university minor within Gies College of Business and The Grainger College of Engineering. Interested students apply to the program and are chosen through a selective admissions process that includes an application and three interviews.
“The signature experience provided me the opportunity to work with corporate sponsors to solve a unique business challenge from both an engineering & business perspective,” another 2018 aluni told us. “This experience allowed me to understand the inner workings of business decision making and the effect that multidisciplinary teams can have on overall business performance.”
The Hoeft Technology & Management Program is a prime example of what makes Gies stand out as a business school. The B-school leverages the talent of the greater UIUC community to enhance the business education and offer students truly unique and collaborative learning experiences.
Other ways to engage in extracurricular activities include the Margolis Market Information lab, where students have access to state-of-the-art finance and business data software, the iVenture Accelerator, which supports student-led startups with knowledge, funding and access to resources and alumni, and Illinois Business Consulting, the largest student-run university consulting organization in the country. Case competitions are also staple in the program – each designed to address unique business challenges and provide students with opportunities to prepare and present as professionals.
While UIUC is a public university of more than 30,000 undergraduate students, the Gies community is one that is tight-knit and supportive. Whether it’s through mentorship or coursework, students are supported by the Gies community throughout their four-year educational journey.
“The network of professionals are extremely passionate and willing to help guide young students in finding what industry best suits them,” one 2018 alumni told us. “They expend countless time and resources in order to do so. Additionally, the ability to learn from older students through registered student organizations was instrumental to better understand what direction you might want to take your career.”
That sentiment of support and community carries on post-graduation as well. When asked how they would judge the Gies alumni network and connection in helping them throughout their career, 2019 alumni gave a strong 8.8 average rating.
Making connections is an integral part of business education. And while networking is not unique to Gies, it seems that the level of support that extends beyond the classroom and even beyond graduation is truly unique to the Gies community.
“The Hoeft Technology & Management Program, which brought together 25 business majors and 25 engineering majors in an innovation-focused, cohort-based curriculum, was extremely important to building my network and relationships inside and outside of UIUC, building my technical skills, and refining my problem solving skills.”
“Multiple short-term study opportunities, multiple capstone projects for supply chain management and technology management – gained so much valuable and tactical work experience.”
“Seniors in the supply chain program must work on a real world consulting project and present our findings to the company, resulting in our final grade. It gave us a great experience that most other students don’t get the opportunity to have.”
“Every student at the Gies College of Business will be given an opportunity to involve themselves in a capstone project. It was an enjoyable experience backed by tremendous support from alumni and upperclassmen, giving students a real feel of what the business world is like. Having been to several major fintech festivals globally, I feel like the capstone project really exposed me and prepared me well for the business world.”
“My supply chain practicum was what I learned the most from. It was one of the first times I needed to analyze big data to generate insights for a client. While I could partly rely on my technical and analytical experiences from school, it was also incredibly helpful to have the Caterpillar professionals’ mentorship and guidance as our team worked through the project. It was powerful to see firsthand how they recommended approaching the situation.”
“In one of my business classes, we did a capstone project that evaluated a current business issue for a chosen company and the task was to come up with a proposal and justification for our team’s solution. This project was important to me because it taught me many of the important critical thinking and communication skills that I use in my consulting job today.”
Where The Class of 2020 Went To Work:
Deloitte – 34
KPMG – 26
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – 26
Ernst & Young – 22
Protiviti – 11
Crowe Horwath – 7
RSM – 6
Medline Industries – 5
Amazon – 5
Accenture – 5
Grant Thornton – 5