This year the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce continued its slow rise up the rankings, passing Washington University in St. Louis to nab the second spot. And like last year, the high rank was buoyed by very high scores from alumni.
This year, we surveyed the graduating Class of 2016 and at McIntire, over 85% of those graduates said that they would recommend their business program to a friend or colleague. Some 90% reported that their first job out of college was in a desired function and over 80% said that first job was at one of their desired companies.
Akin to the few two-year programs still remaining, students at Virginia begin with two years of liberal arts, before applying to McIntire School for entry their junior year. Only 59% of applicants to McIntire are accepted, meaning even if you get into the University of Virginia, you’re not guaranteed a spot in the School of Commerce. For example, this past application cycle, nearly 750 applied and 362 were admitted. The average SAT score of that class boasted an average SAT of 1407 and average high school GPA of 4.22.
At the center of the McIntire business education experience is their Integrated Core Experience (ICE) Curriculum which all third-year students must participate. ICE goes beyond classroom curriculum and places students with companies to solve real problems they are facing.
For Katherine Gruneisen, who graduated from McIntire in 2016, the ICE curriculum played a role in her decision to attend Virginia’s McIntire School.
“When looking at different business schools, McIntire’s Integrated Core Curriculum immediately stood out to me for its innovative approach to learning,” Gruneisen says. “The approach takes you out of isolated educational verticals where you’re only studying a math problem or you’re only writing a marketing brief. All of a sudden, you’re thinking with your full brain – pulling in a 360 functional view on a very real-life situation. You’re taught to act like a manager from day one. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt that you’re perpetually working alongside wonderfully diverse peers whose minds are incredible and completely different from your own.”
McIntire checks out in the middle of the ranking for cost. Four years of tuition and fees for an in-state student is $75,698 with additional expenses adding another estimated $57,900 over four years. Out-of-state students should expect to pay more than double in tuition and fees at $198,266, and a slightly higher living expenses total of $59,500.
Change and innovation is on the way at McIntire. Last September, the university announced a $25 million gift from The Chris and Carrie Shumway Foundation that will be an early cog in a new bioscience and business program. The funds will also go towards a new building for the business school that will feature labs for behavioral research and hands-on learning of analytics and visualization.
A GENERAL EDUCATION FOUNDATION
Students at McIntire begin their college education by taking a host of liberal arts classes in subjects including economics, math, and foreign languages.
“Our graduates have great breadth and depth of knowledge from their two years of study before going in depth into business,” Ryan Nelson, the associate dean for Undergraduate Program at McIntire, says. “Our graduates report back that they were client-ready for their internships, with the confidence to present information and data in an effective way. Employers also share that our students work well in teams and can integrate with people across all areas of business, probably from practice through our ICE curriculum.”
In the first year at McIntire, students spend ample time in small groups, which helps them build and develop friendships and relationships. First-year McIntire classes include Behavioral Issues in Marketing and Management, Strategic Value Creation, and Managerial Decision Making.
The ICE curriculum during the first year in McIntire includes 12 credit hours in the fall semester, and nine credit hours in the spring semester, which also includes engaging with corporate partners on live business cases and putting to practice their classroom knowledge and problem-solving skills. McIntire partners with companies like Hilton Worldwide, CarMax, Rolls-Royce, and Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Gruneisen says that the goal of the project is to do a comprehensive 360-degree gap and opportunity analysis for a company with a given aspiration, such as increasing brand resonance, or optimizing a balance sheet. The scope requires students to address every function of the business, from sales to marketing to finance. At the end of the semester, students present their case finding with their teams and make recommendations to their client companies, who send executives to attend the presentation and proposals.
“The opportunity to engage with these seniors leaders, share our ideas for them, and discuss their challenges was perhaps the most transformational moment of my education,” Gruneisen, who now works as a Craft Expansion Manager for Anheuser-Busch InBev, says. “We were no longer studying hypothetical business theory in textbooks, but were rather bringing the principles to life as true creators of value.”
In some instances, alumni even shared that they were selected to travel to other cities to present their findings and solutions to senior leadership at company offices.
“Our ICE curriculum makes classes more business-like as the students develop an integrated thought process through problem-solving and not just strategic analysis of issues,” Nelson explains. “From marketing and finance, to organizational behavior, students know they’ll receive direct feedback from client organizations on their ideas, which motivates them to work harder.”
Nelson adds that the cohort model where students attend the same classes with their same peers throughout the year helps them form relationships where they push one another to do their best and to do well.
During the second year at McIntire and fourth year at Virginia, students select their preferred track, and can choose from areas like accounting, finance, information technology, management, and marketing. According to school officials, a second major or a minor outside of the School of Commerce is common among business students. Some popular areas include engineering, public policy, and foreign languages. Within the McIntire School students can pick minors in entrepreneurship and leadership.
ONE OF THE SCHOOLS WHERE STUDENTS ARE MOST LIKELY TO STUDY ABROAD
Alumni from just two other schools reported higher amounts of international experiences than McIntire. According to the survey of the Class of 2016, 61% of graduates from that class had a key international experience. It is one of the reasons why Neale Walton, a 2016 graduate, says his time at McIntire was life-changing, and that he would recommend the program to his friends and family without hesitation.
Walton says he participated in a two-week long May-mester in Europe, where he got to learn about branding and production of luxury goods, and what made those products “luxury.”
“It brought me a much better appreciation for luxury goods, and I often look back on that time when I think about branding for my current company as well as thinking about other company’s brands,” he says.
Another 2016 graduate, Alexis Unwalla, says that she went on two trips abroad as part of her time with the business school. The marketing and management major spent a month in China exploring businesses and international partnerships around trade, as well as a two-week trip to Argentina where she helped consult a local winery to bring their business online into the digital world of e-commerce.
Like many other top schools, McIntire also hosts industry-specific treks. For example, students interested in tech get to travel to Silicon Valley to meet with alumni already in the tech and startup industries, and explore the opportunities available to McIntire graduates.
Garrett Allen, a commerce major from the Class of 2016, was one of those who went on the Silicon Valley trip. “It was invaluable and has defined my career as a product manager for a tech company in Silicon Valley,” he says. Today, Allen is a product manager at Intuit based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
NEW CURRICULUM AND EMPHASIS ON TECH AND BIG DATA
Future McIntire students will be able to take advantage of a revamped curriculum. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the school conducted a holistic assessment of their curriculum and the student experience from matriculation through graduation. The focus was on ensuring a coherent and consistent flow of content from end-to-end, focusing on meeting a desired set of knowledge, skills, and attributes for their graduates.
Over the last three years, the school has also leveraged student projects to evaluate and improve the process that they are directly connected to, such as admissions, academic advising, and career advising.
With the continued growth of data analytics fluency in business graduates, the school has also created a business analytics track that takes an interdisciplinary approach to business administration. Other new courses they have introduced in line with changes to the field of business technology include Big Data, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning, Cybersecurity, Digital Innovation, and a Digital Safari to Silicon Valley. “At the McIntire School, we believe that innovation is our tradition,” Nelson boasts.
In response to the global call for diversity in business, the School appointed an Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion two years ago, who has since introduced a portfolio of new initiatives throughout the School.
In addition to a stellar and top-notch academic experience, McIntire boasts some impressive job statistics. In this year’s ranking, McIntire placed third in the career outcomes category only behind The Wharton School and New York University’s Stern School of Business. It should be noted that both Wharton and NYU were the only schools that averaged salaries higher than $80,000 for 2018 graduates.
Most McIntire alumni shared that they did two to three business-related internships while working on their degree, with some completing as many as five. The school reported that 92% of students in the Class of 2017 completed at least one business-specific internship before graduation, with that number rising to 95% for the Class of 2018. These experiences may have been what contributed to the 90 percent of students in the Class of 2017 who found full-time employment within weeks of graduation. And for the Class of 2018, this percentage rose to 91 percent.
When it came to salaries, McIntire alumni reported a wide range of salaries drawn with their first jobs, from $35,000 for an account executive position with advertising firm BBDO NY, to $150,000 for an Investment Banking Analyst position with Lazard, an asset management firm based in Bermuda. Most of the students, however, reported drawing a salary of about $85,000, with signing bonuses as high as $48,000, and an analyst at Blackstone even receiving a one-year bonus of $75,000.
According to information submitted by the school, students in the Class of 2017 received an average starting pay of $72,297, with average signing bonuses of $9,261. For the Class of 2018, they had a slightly higher starting pay of $75,068, with average signing bonuses of $9,313.
With Amazon having announced that their new headquarters will be in Virginia, universities are preparing their students for the myriad job opportunities and demand for talent that will be available.
“At McIntire, we are focused on integration of professional skill sets and communication skills for our students, and our employer partners often report back that our students are client-ready,” Nelson says. “They can present information and data in an effective way, work in teams with people across all areas of business, and are excited to be engaged.”
What alumni say:
“The format of McIntire’s ICE education involves an integrated core experience where students spend a full semester working on a live business case. The goal of the project is to do a comprehensive 360 gap and opportunity analysis for a company with a given aspiration (e.g. increase brand resonance, optimize balance sheet, etc). The scope requires students to address every function of the business – from sales to marketing to finance. At the end of the semester, my team and I presented our case findings with a final recommendation. Our audience was the executives of the company, who flew down to Charlottesville to hear our proposal. The opportunity to engage with these seniors leaders, share our ideas for them, and discuss their challenges was perhaps the most transformational moment of my education. We were no longer studying hypothetical business theory in textbooks, but were rather bringing the principles to life as true creators of value.” – Class of 2016 alum
“(I participated in) an immersive consulting project in which we were assigned a company and had the opportunity to analyze the company as a whole and make an educated recommendation pitch to members of the company. We traveled around Australia and New Zealand and used our experiences of visiting different companies around the two countries to support our presentations.” – Class of 2016 alum
“I worked on a Leadership Minor project, where I organized a Habitat Build for a group of students who were affected by the murder of our friend, Hannah Graham, for the 1-year anniversary of her death. I had to reach out/search for all of the students that would appreciate this and coordinate with Habitat to make it possible. I then, wrote a paper detailing what I did, how I did it, and what it meant to the people involved.” – Class of 2016 alum
Where The Class of 2018 Went To Work:
Deloitte – 22
PricewaterhouseCoopers – 16
EY – 14
Bain & Company – 10
Capital One – 9
JPMorgan Chase & Co. – 9
Wells Fargo – 9
Bank of America – 8
Credit Suisse – 8
Accenture – 7