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3 Business Schools To Look Out For In 2018

These burgeoning schools have the makings of greatness, and are worth watching in the year ahead

As the January blues kick in, our thoughts often drift to our goals for 2018. For those thinking of moving on to a new job with more responsibility and higher pay, business school could be the answer — we’ve compiled a short list of the schools that are set to shine in the year ahead.

All of these business schools are well-known, but do not feature in the upper echelons of MBA rankings, the benchmark many prospective students use to select their schools. And all of them achieved milestones in 2017, setting themselves up for further success in 2018 and beyond.

To choose our burgeoning schools, we looked for various elements: application, job and salary growth, campus and program expansion, international partnerships, and past and projected performance in business school rankings. We believe these schools have the makings of greatness, and are worth watching in 2018.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business

The Tepper School of Business sits at the intersection of two compelling business trends: technology, and women’s empowerment. Students are demanding a more diverse student body to enhance peer-to-peer learning, and more than ever before, see their fortunes in Silicon Valley tech companies rather than big banks and consulting firms. Tepper is at the forefront of both trends.

Nearly 60% of women from Tepper’s 2017 MBA cohort landed jobs in tech. That is up from 45% the year before. Tepper’s Women in Business Club has worked with the Forte Foundation, the non-profit group of businesses and schools which promotes gender equality, to launch an annual Women in Business conference in 2016.

The Tech Leadership Track at the business school, meanwhile, provides MBAs with a cross-disciplinary education — with Carnegie Mellon’s top-ranked school of computer science — in machine learning, product design, the internet of things and more. Expect the proportion of women in the Tepper MBA to rise on the back of these sterling efforts.

Future leaders of both sexes seem to have taken notice. Applications to Tepper’s MBA program surged by more than 13% in 2017 — putting it on a par with higher-ranked business schools such as Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Pittsburgh-based Tepper has had a decent year in the polls, rising in prominent rankings of business schools, including The Economist and the Bloomberg league tables, with the latter placing it among the top-15 US schools. Bloomberg ranked Tepper number eight among 85 schools for its Student Survey metric, which records feedback from students as to how thoroughly they’ve been prepared for the workforce.

Further success may abound. Tepper plans to open a new quad that will double space on campus, including a new 600-seat lecture theatre and gym. That will enable Tepper to further increase student enrolment, after increasing the MBA class size by 14 spots last year. The quad will also enhance Tepper’s ability to collaborate across different university departments — one of the school’s key and growing advantages.

Cornell Tech

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Cornell University is no stranger to startups: its entrepreneur network counts more than 400 businesses which were founded by alumni. But the college has in recent years embarked on an altogether new venture: a startup business school situated on a former floating prison — Roosevelt Island in New York City.

Cornell Tech, a $2 billion high-tech university, wants to usher in a new digital age of business education. “As we have moved from a physical to a software world — from atoms to bits — we need a different kind of school to allow students to flourish,” says Doug Stayman, Cornell Tech’s associate dean.

The school’s unique approach emphasises experiential learning — learning by doing — rather than the case study approach favoured by most MBA programs. Technology is at the heart of the curriculum, with students working alongside computer scientists and designers to solve real challenges that firms face.

The reasoning is simple: companies want more entrepreneurial product managers who can work in diverse teams. Students exit via big tech firms like Google and Amazon, or launch their own innovative ventures.

With construction finally completed on the new Roosevelt Island campus, there is room for the school to expand its student and faculty numbers. Cornell Tech first opened its doors in 2014 with fewer than 40 students signed up for its MBA. This year there are more than 60, and the school anticipates enrolling more than 150 within five years.

Such predicted growth has led to suggestions that Cornell Tech may cannibalize its sister school, the Johnson School of Management, which enrols near 300 students a year. Cornell Tech may not use many case studies in its teaching, but a case study on the MBA itself may be brewing.  

China Europe International Business School

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The global economy has shifted east, and so have business school rankings, to a lesser extent.

The Financial Times released its first MBA ranking in 1999. It included the world’s top 50 programs — none were from Asia. In 2017, 12 Asian schools are ranked — including INSEAD, the FT’s highest ranked school for two years on the trot. But it is Shanghai’s China Europe International Business School that is the one to watch.

It is ranked number 11, up from 17 in 2016, and may climb higher when the FT releases its 2018 ranking next week. In 2002, CEIBS alumni had average salaries of $35,000. Today that figure has climbed to $163,000.

CEIBS has also worked hard to increase the diversity of its cohort — another important benchmark for business school rankings, for example by introducing a women’s specific scholarship covering 50% of tuition fees. The percentage of women in its MBA has climbed from 32% in 2012 to 40% today. The percentage of female board members at CEIBS also rose 9% last year to 17%.

CEIBS has been buoyed by China’s structural economy, steady GDP growth, a boom in entrepreneurship, and a renewed focus on doing business in Asia, according to its dean Ding Yuan. “China still has a higher growth rate compared with other countries, and thus has seen higher salary increases across the economy,” adds career services director Yvonne Li.

Upcoming initiatives may raise CEIBS’ standing on the global stage higher. CEIBS’ eLab will construct an ecosystem that will integrate education, mentoring, entrepreneurs, and investors through a series of programmes, forums and competitions. An elective program will also enable students to travel to the US, Israel, Japan, Germany, and Malaysia. These plans will give prospective students exactly what they increasingly crave — international mobility in their careers.

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