At Villanova School of Business, students get to choose many things, but as part of the business core, the school has laid out a plan to help develop and hone their students into the business leaders of tomorrow through a series of courses.
As freshmen, the students will take a course called Business Dynamics in the fall semester, where they’ll explore the various business disciplines, and how they interact with each other and exist in society. There are also several required elements in the course, including a professional development curriculum and a Bloomberg certification they must earn, which will lay the foundation of their education.
As sophomores, students take a course in Competitive Effectiveness that combines an introduction to marketing with an introduction to management. The course is led by a faculty member from each discipline, and students work on a live case study from a company who presents a problem or opportunity at the start of the semester. Students then spend the semester working on a marketing plan to address the issue. Previous companies who have partnered with the school for this course include Ikea, Comcast, and Johnson & Johnson.
“The first course gives students a big, broad introduction to business and its role in society, while this stimulates the account manager side of students, while they learn how to work in teams that they may not necessarily have selected on their own, as it is in real life,” Brenda Stover, Executive Director of the O’Donnell Center for Professional Development at Villanova, said. “They also get to work on their communication skills as they create presentations, write up a marketing plan and produce a management paper.”
When students enter their junior year, they’ll take the Global Political Economy course to open their minds the interconnectedness that economies, and how history and politics in one country can affect another. The current-events driven class is meant to help students bridge theory and practice before the move into taking their required Strategic Thinking and Implementation course as seniors, where they’ll be trained to think about the long-term growth of organizations.
“More likely than not, the students will be doing all of these for the rest of their lives, and these courses help simulate real-world experience beyond entry level,” Stover said. “Our courses often combine both theory and application to give students the experience they need before going to work.”
Villanova University is a private research university in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, and is named after Saint Thomas of Villanova. Their School of Business offers students a four-year program and received 6,620 application in Fall 2018. Of these, 1,461 were admitted, giving the school an acceptance rate for direct applications of 22 percent.
The school shared that the average SAT score of students entering the undergraduate business program in Fall 2018 was 1409, and the average ACT score was 32.4, while the average high school GPA was 4.29.
The total four-year cost of attending, covering tuition and fees, is $194,086, and in response to a survey conducted by Poets&Quants, about 82 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said they believed that their business degree from Villanova was worth its cost in tuition.
FEATURING THE ‘BACKPACK TO BRIEFCASE’
Entering Villanova is one of the biggest transitions and decisions their students will make, and the leaders of the School of Business know this. They know that their students are counting on them to prepare them for the competitive world of work, the program cuts right to the chase with their students.
In a “Backpack to Briefcase” professional development curriculum that is part of the required Business Dynamics course that all freshmen take, students begin their career journey by learning how to assess the environment with a course in informational technology, where they’ll learn to design and create spreadsheets as a tool for business decision-making. They will also work on the Bloomberg Market Concepts self-paced e-learning program to gain an introduction to the world of financial markets. Also in their freshman year, students will begin their exploration of majors, college planning, career exploration, and professional skill building by developing a professional resume and engaging in a networking etiquette workshop.
As sophomores, business students must participate in a seminar to define and implement their job search and career development strategy. They can also make use of the opportunities provided by Villanova to expand their professional networks through increased interaction with alumni and employers.
When they get to their junior year, the school expects them to begin trying to figure their competitive edge and marketing it. Students must take a one-credit course where they learn and practice preparing for an internal case competition by working in small teams to do case analysis, present their findings, and come up with recommendations they present to a panel of company executives and faculty. While honing their communication skills, figuring out their leadership style, and receiving feedback from business professionals, students in previous classes have had the opportunity to work with companies including Tesla Motors, Apple, and PepsiCo.
Upon becoming seniors, they are invited to attend a series of social, professional and spiritual activities designed to bring the senior class together, as they cement their friendships before parting ways to become industry professionals.
“The Backpack to Briefcase program is embedded into the business curriculum to grow as the student grows,” Melinda German, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Business Programs, said. “What we hear from employers is that our students are the whole package, that they graduate not only with well-defined academic abilities, but also the soft skills they need to succeed such as emotional intelligence, poise, and savvy.”
STRONG EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS
Business students at Villanova can choose to major in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Management, Marketing Information Systems, or marketing; or co-major in Business Analytics, Real Estate, and International Business.
In the past three years, the school has added a required Business Analytics course where students are taught how to use business intelligence and quantitative methods, including statistical analysis, forecasting and extrapolation, predictive modeling, optimization and simulation in the context of organizational decision making and problem-solving.
The school has also introduced a new quantitative finance concentration, where students work with higher level math, calculus, statistics, and computer science courses along with quantitative-oriented finance. While the course is incredibly popular among the students, the school is limiting the number of students who can declare it to 30 per academic year.
“The program was created in response to the market,” German said. “Employers have been saying that they are looking for graduates who are well-honed and hyper-focused on the quantitative side, and we responded.”
Stover estimates that about 54 percent of each class chooses to travel abroad as part of their undergraduate studies, and alumni from the Class of 2016 shared that they traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Chile, Italy, London, and Rome.
Hope Hruska, Class of 2016, said that she got to study abroad twice during her time at Villanova. The first time was when she visited Singapore as part of the Global Citizens Program in her freshman year, and the second was when she visited Copenhagen while studying international marketing.
“These international working and learning experiences played a big role in interviews and the way I adapt to new cultures, even within the US,” Hruska, who now works as an associate brand manager at Ferrara Candy Company, said. “While in Singapore, I was able to get an internship my freshmen year that led to another internship in New York City. In Copenhagen, I worked with H&M, Carlsberg Brewery, Lego, and more companies to develop marketing plans.”
The Global Citizens Program at Villanova is a freshman-only program where students get to spend sixteen weeks in London or Singapore in an experience that combines both classroom work and a practical internship. The school makes it an affordable experience by having students pay the normal Villanova semester tuition directly to the university, and having all housing costs abroad included in the cost of tuition. Students have to pay for flights, meals, and other expenses, but can apply for grants and scholarship aid to help make the trip possible.
Over 92 percent of alumni from the school’s Class of 2016 said that they would recommend the business program to a friend or colleague, and about 85 percent said they felt the program prepared them well for the world of work.
While internships are not required for graduation at Villanova School of Business, about 95 percent of students in the Class of 2017 completed a business-specific internship before graduation, and 97 percent of students in the Class of 2018 did the same.
The school shared nearly 93% of graduates from the Class of 2017 found full-time jobs within months of graduation, drawing an average salary of $63,144, and signing bonuses of $7,448. With the Class of 2018, over 96% of graduates found full-time jobs soon after graduation, drawing a marginally higher average salary of $63,709, and a slightly lower average signing bonus of $6,923.
The school counts among its list of top employers all four of the “Big Four” accounting firms, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Bloomberg LP, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, IBM, and Nomura.
“A major point of distinction of our program is the high-touch environment set up for the students,” Stover said. “Students get a highly personalized journey while they’re here, and they thrive from that.”
What Alumni Say:
“As a freshman, I participated in Villanova School of Business’ Global Citizens Program. I studied abroad in Singapore and interned with KPMG. This experience has led me to connect with the professionals at networking events and showcase the immensely valuable opportunities I was given as a freshman.” – Recent Alumni
“My capstone project was one of the most influential parts of my college career. Being chosen as the team leader and immersing myself in the project helped me to understand that there is more to business than what I had pictured. It wasn’t just what my parents do, but really opened my eyes to all the possibilities that a business degree could open up for me.” – Recent Alumni
“The Study Abroad-Global internship program was a unique experience with the London School of Economics. Additionally, curriculum course such as Competitive Effectiveness allows you to work with companies in a consulting role and work on real problems facing the company.” – Recent Alumni
Where The Class of 2018 Went To Work:
JPMorgan Chase & Co.