After debuting at No. 1 in our first ranking of undergraduate business programs five years ago, the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis has slowly been sliding down the rankings. That trend continued this year as the school fell out of the top-10 for the first time in the short history of these rankings, landing at 12th this year.
Dropping five places from last year’s spot at number seven, Olin had a slightly higher acceptance rate this year of 14.26% — roughly three percentage points higher than 2019. The average SAT score stayed relatively the same at 1511 and the percentage of students coming from the top 10th percentile of their high school class dropped from 91% to 88%.
But don’t let that fool you. Despite falling in our rankings this year, the Olin school still offers a quality business education that is characterized by strong global study programs and a values-based approach to business. Olin has placed first in our entrepreneurship ranking the past two years. And it rests in an interesting spot in a revitalized Midwestern city with a lot of startup, tech, and entrepreneurial momentum.
OVER 60% OF STUDENTS HAVE AN OVERSEAS EXPERIENCE
While the Olin Business School itself is located in St. Louis, Missouri, the education itself is truly global. With over 60% of students having an overseas experience, Olin is dedicated to offering a business education with a global perspective.
To ensure that global perspective, all Olin undergraduates starting in the fall of 2021 will need to fulfill the new “Global Mindset” degree requirement, a framework designed to ensure every undergraduate can gain international business experience — whether or not they travel abroad.
The Olin curriculum already features 11 courses that offer a significant global business component, which we define as at least a third of the coursework. Additionally, students have access to 175 semester abroad opportunities with 19 of them being business-specific. One 2018 alumni told us they spent one semester in Madrid and another in Copenhagen.
“The approach to learning and the role of higher education was so drastically different in each country that I feel like I gained a greater appreciation for both inside and outside of the classroom learning opportunities,” the alum said.
Another 2018 alumni studied in both Tel Aviv and Paris.
“My Tel Aviv experience was a six week summer program with a small group of students that focused on entrepreneurship and startup culture,” the alum told us. “There was no better place to have hands-on experience working towards building your own idea. My semester in Paris was focused on International Business and the French language.”
The Olin curriculum is designed to give students a holistic, values-based education. One that gives them a strong foundation in business, but also an understanding of aspects outside of their world of business too. Olin students are required to complete at least 40% of their classes in areas other than business.
Some 70% of surveyed 2018 alumni reported engaging in a “signature experience” like project work, simulations, a global immersion, experiential learning, senior thesis, or capstone project. What makes these experiences unique to Olin is that many are rooted in the idea of using business to create social change in real communities.
One of the most popular experiences is the Taylor Community Consulting Program, which matches Olin students with nonprofits in need of fresh perspectives and actionable recommendations. Teams of two to four students are assigned to a six-week project and each student must contribute at least 75 hours of work. The students conclude the project with a final presentation. Through these projects, students gain experience in a variety of management functions including market research, brand auditing, strategic planning, and financial and operational assessment — all while making a real social impact.
“Taylor Community Consulting provided me insight on how business practices are crucial for social impact and led me to join Teach for America after graduation instead of consulting,” one 2018 alumni told us.
These experiences also help students build important soft skills such as verbal and written communication skills, adaptability, delegation, and time management. 2018 alumni rated Olin’s ability to nurture and improve their soft skills in business relatively strong at an 8.8 average rating.
Both internship and employment outcomes for Olin graduates are strong. Some 97.4% of the Class of 2020 secured an internship before graduation and 91.43% landed a full-time position within three months after graduation. Those starting full-time positions reported an average starting salary of $76,183, one of the highest this year. Additionally, alumni gave a positive response to Olin’s ability to get them into their intended career with 88% of surveyed 2018 alumni saying their first job after graduating was in their desired industry and 75.51% reporting that their first job was at their desired company.
With a curriculum that’s grounded in teaching values and offering a global perspective, the Olin Business School truly delivers a strong, modern-day business education. Olin students get the opportunity to earn a strong business education in an urban Midwestern setting.
“My final econ & strategy class was a great experience working with real world clients in groups of 5 where we would meet a client, get a data dump, ask questions and then work towards a recommendation and final presentation to the client.”
“Did a summer abroad with the Dean of the undergraduate business school immersed in the startup nation of Tel Aviv. I not only learned about the country but experienced it firsthand. Learned about Madagascar and economic development in class then traveled to the community to put our knowledge to the test. We had to adapt to new cultures based on information we couldn’t have predicted from our outsider perspective.”
“I participated in two abroad programs – one of which was an entrepreneurial summer program in Israel and one was a semester abroad taking classes and interning in London. Israel allowed me to learn more about starting a business and how Israel is a hub for innovation. London was a great opportunity to work in another country and broaden my work experience while still taking meaningful courses.”
Where The Class of 2020 Went To Work:
Bain & Company – 8
Capital One – 7
Guggenheim Partners – 6
EY – 6
JPMorgan Chase & Co. – 4
McKinsey – 4
Kraft Heinz Foods – 3
Deloitte – 4
Goldman Sachs – 3
ZS Associates – 3