What are the best business schools for undergrad?
A lot of parents are asking about the best business schools for undergrad students. As a business major, business ex-Googler, and business owner, I’ve worked alongside many people who studied business as undergrad. But as I learned during college and the hiring process, not all business degrees are created equal. Some grant special access to specific employers, like Google and Morgan Stanley, while others provide a degree with little networking. Furthermore, some college’s rankings are purely inaccurate. Ranking some universities high in business when in fact there isn’t even a business program there for undergrads!
When it comes to finding the top colleges for business undergrads, it all comes down to a few things:
- Strength of business curriculum
- Opportunities outside of class
- Location near job opportunities
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How to determine what are the best business schools for me?
First of all, the strength of the business curriculum means: “Are you going to learn about business?” Or is the program just an economics program masked as a business one? Many prominent universities come from an economics background, and as a result, their version of “business” – titled majors such as Management Economics or Business Economics – is more about applied economics or econometrics rather than business. Remember: business is completely different from economics! In fact, some hugely popular undergraduate destinations like UCLA and the University of Chicago don’t even offer business for undergraduates. Instead, they focus solely on economics.
What opportunities exist outside of class for business undergrads?
The strength of a business program comes largely from experiential learning and networking. When I attended UC Berkeley Haas, for example, I participated in numerous case competitions, during which I competed with 3 teammates against other teams of 4, many of whom represented business fraternities. These case competitions gave us an edge over those who attended college elsewhere that didn’t provide the same opportunity since we gained unparalleled knowledge and experience about how business works in the real world. In addition, business fraternities themselves are excellent ways of building a network for future job prospects. In fact, they provide insider knowledge on hiring and even introduce you to alumni of the same fraternity who are now hiring managers of very popular companies.
Should location be a consideration for business majors?
Location matters – a lot. If you go to a college that’s nowhere near business jobs, then it doesn’t matter how high of a ranking that business program is. In today’s job market, if you don’t have experience, then you’re not getting hired – period. A critical part of undergraduate years is developing work experience on your resume, so choosing a college that’s reputable for employing their business students nearby is a massive point to consider.
Here are my top seven of the best business schools for undergrad, taking into account the above three criteria:
The first UC to have a “pure” business program, UC Berkeley is one of the nation’s top destinations for studying business as either an undergrad or an MBA. The Berkeley Haas curriculum is taught by some of the industry’s best, professors who worked as professionals in their field for years. They often teach both MBA and undergraduate students, which means your teachers are often teaching Fortune 500 CEO’s. Second, opportunities outside of class are plentiful, ranging from case competitions and the largest business fraternities in the nation. Lastly, job opportunities are abundant; located in the Silicon Valley, Berkeley itself is now a hotbed for startup activity. Employment opportunities are there for anyone with a resume and the right skill set.
The Stern School of Business requires no introduction. Located in the heart of NYC, Stern offers a unique undergraduate experience due to its campus-less campus. You can walk by NYU without even noticing. Hence, if you’re a social urbanite who’s looking for learning without boundaries, NYU Stern is the best business school for undergrad for you. Its curriculum is extensive and rigorous, its extracurricular opportunities plentiful, and its location impeccable for anyone serious about business. Furthermore, NYU’s study abroad options and emphasis on multidisciplinary study make it one of the most versatile destinations anywhere in the world.
A Wharton undergrad combines Penn’s liberal arts freedom with a top business program. The result is a well-rounded educational experience that builds depth and breadth of understanding. Highlights of the business curriculum include case studies and learning lab simulations that emulate real-world experiences. Outside of class, there are student conferences, study abroad options, and venture experiences. Top it all off with an excellent location in Philadelphia, and you have an amazing undergraduate business program.
When it comes to real-world experience, few colleges match Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Its co-op program requires students to get work experience before graduating. Needless to say, there are abundant job opportunities around, especially since the college is strategically located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern also offers specialized concentrations, ranging from accounting and finance to corporate innovation and entrepreneurial startups, in addition to combined majors that provide multidisciplinary pathways. Lastly, Northeastern offers a wide array of activities outside of class, including research centers and initiatives, special events, and study abroad options.
They say Austin is the San Francisco of Texas. Beyond its liberal culture, the city’s university is now also a prime destination for high schoolers from all over the country. The Texas McCombs BBA program has consistently ranked top 10 on anyone’s list for undergraduate business programs. A part of what makes it unique is its 10 different major options (compared to only one major option offered at Haas). Majors like Inhttps://www.marshall.usc.edu/programs/undergraduate-programsternational Business and Management Information Systems provide a ton of flexibility to explore the vast arena that is business. Furthermore, UT Austin’s bodes over 35 student organizations and a 2-year leadership program. Lastly, Austin is a bustling and quickly evolving city that is now home to many major tech companies, providing a great job outlook for the driven.
Irvine, and Orange County in general, is arguably the best-kept secret for business majors. Both startup activity and corporate presence have thrived for over a decade, and housing prices have only recently caught up. UC Irvine’s Merage School of Business is emblematic of this vibrant market, providing a stellar business program for students who missed the cut for UCLA or Berkeley. While arguably providing a better balance of life. Its curriculum is focused and flexible, offering both Business Administration and Business Information Management, and many ways to personalize electives to fit niche interests. Diversity is also a strength at UC Irvine, with 30% of students coming from underrepresented backgrounds.
Known for its emphasis on international exposure and multidisciplinary study, USC is also home to the Marshall School of Business. USC Marshall’s curriculum is in some ways a reflection of those areas of emphasis; with unique options like the World Bachelor of Business (WBB) program and the Business and Cinematic Arts program. Hence, the curriculum is innovative and flexible. Likewise, activities outside of class are varied to fit anyone’s interest, sure to keep even the most multi-talented minds busy at work and in collaboration. Lastly, USC’s location in the heart of LA provides a vast expanse of job opportunities in almost every industry.
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Other blogs in the series include: