BBA Growth Bringing Expanded Opportunities for Students and Employers

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For years, Ross applicants and employers alike have told us they wished the BBA Program was larger.  Our BBA Program is one of the most respected in the country. Currently ranked No. 3 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, we accept only 16 percent of high school students and 40 percent of U-M and other college students who apply.

Over the past year, we carefully explored what it would look like to grow our BBA Program, expanding access while maintaining quality. Our paramount concerns were ensuring the superbly high caliber of students, the top quality of the program experience, and the strong employment prospects for graduates.  

We didn’t enter the investigation lightly, but the resounding conclusions were positive on all fronts.  This month, with the launch of the new school year, I’m pleased to be welcoming to Ross an expanded incoming class of BBA students.  We’ve created 80 new spots in the program and grown it from 420 to 500 students per year.

A Deep, Highly Qualified Applicant Pool

Today, business is one of the most popular majors on college campuses.  With the current economic environment, students and parents are attracted to the strong employment prospects a business degree can offer.  The BBA is one of relatively few undergraduate-level professional degrees, and it provides graduates with highly marketable, real-world-relevant skills.  The BBA is also a strong foundation for a number of career paths, including law, medicine, technology, and more.

Each year, we get almost 3,000 applicants to the Ross BBA Program, a great percentage of whom are highly qualified.  Due to the program’s small size, the number of appropriately qualified candidates far exceeds the number of seats in the program, and as such we have to deny admission to many great candidates.  Understandably, students and parents have been frustrated by the extreme challenge of admission.  As a public institution, I believe providing access for qualified candidates to a high quality education is an inherent part of our mission. 

Not only did we find in our investigation that the quality of the applicant pool was deep enough to grow the program without altering admissions standards, but interestingly, with the larger entering class, we are seeing an increase in the caliber of students.  The U-M GPA of incoming sophomore students has increased from 3.63 to 3.65.  For those admitted from high school, the average ACT score has increased from 33 to 34, and the average SAT score from 1451 to 1488.  We also continued to apply stringent holistic admissions criteria, looking at demonstrated leadership in extracurricular activities, awards and honors, and the content of essays.

A Richer Experience

The students this year will benefit from changes in the program that further prepare them for today’s global environment.  Building on our rigorous, cross-disciplinary curriculum and action-oriented approach, we’re offering more action learning experiences and international opportunities.  These changes will deepen the way students master concepts for application in the business world and enhance their understanding of cross-cultural and cross-national business issues.  

In addition, students will experience greater diversity of thought among the student body from the larger class while continuing to receive focused, personalized attention with an increased number of staff and deeper faculty engagement with the program.  The leadership development component of our curriculum will also remain strong, helping students gain a mature perspective on their individual potential and an appreciation for the role of business in society. 

A Strong Employment Outlook

Ultimately, the Ross BBA Program produces remarkable placement statistics, and with the expanded class we believe this will remain strong.  In 2012, 92.4 percent of graduates received job offers within three months of graduation.  This is particularly impressive given the high unemployment rates today for college graduates.  Employers tell us Ross BBAs are so attractive not just because they’re highly intelligent and motivated.  Importantly, they have the skills and multidisciplinary perspective to provide value right away.

Over the past several years, employers have repeatedly told us that if we had more BBA candidates, they’d hire them.  This year we have already seen a 7 percent increase in the number of companies recruiting at Ross, and we are receiving requests from companies to connect with students as early as sophomore year.  We’re increasing resources and specialized BBA career programming to support this greater employment activity.

Just the Beginning

Many of the developments taking place in the BBA Program have been made possible by the University Provost’s Office and Ross donors Tom Jones, the Hollister family, the Tisch family, and others.  I thank them for their continued support of our efforts. 

We have many other important changes underway in our other Ross academic programs, including our MBA programs.  I look forward to sharing more of them with you over the coming months.  It is certainly an exciting time of important change at the Ross School.

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Alison Davis-Blake