Choosing a Business Program in the United States
By Lindy Kravec
More than 1 million students from other countries enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities during the 2016-17 academic year—an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous year, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE). Of these students, approximately 19 percent came to the U.S. to pursue a business degree.
“The frontier of business research and training takes place at the top universities in the U.S.,” says Dr. Shan Yan, assistant professor of finance in the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University.
The American business community has a strong influence in the global economy. It makes sense to get a business education in the United States, where you will also have opportunities that don’t exist at schools in your home country.
For example, many U.S. undergraduate business programs offer a valuable combination of classroom business theory and real-world business case studies, a focus on specific areas of business, and the chance to obtain internships at some of the most competitive companies in the world.
“Innovative business models are also being created in U.S. markets. When you combine the academic training with exposure to the real market, you can see how valuable U.S. business training is for international students,” Yan explains.
There are more than 4,700 degree-granting institutions in the United States. Some offer two-year associate degree programs, while others are four-year colleges and universities that award bachelor’s degrees.
The question is, how can you narrow down all of those choices to find the school that is right for you? Here are several things to consider:
Location – think about more than East Coast or West Coast.
The U.S. is a huge country, with much geographic, demographic and climate diversity. You may want to select a school that allows you to experience all four seasons of weather, or one that provides endless summer. You may prefer a school in a vibrant metropolitan area, or one in a charming small town. But you should also think about whether you want to study at a large public university, a tiny private college, or somewhere in between. Is it important to have small class sizes where you can easily interact with other students and your professor, or are you comfortable in larger class settings?
Remember, while you are a student in the U.S. you will have the opportunity to travel and explore many areas of the country. But in selecting an American school, consider how the location might impact your program.
As a business major, you may want to choose a college or university that is relatively close to financial centers such as Chicago or New York City, and one that has a proven track record of helping students network with professionals in their field. The opportunity to shadow a business professional for a day, or actually work in a corporate setting as an intern is priceless.
After graduation, your international student visa allows you to work in the U.S. for one year to gain practical experience. With your American business degree, you can gain experience in almost any industry, working for one of the leading companies in the world!
Look for specialized coursework delivered by faculty mentors.
Although many U.S. business schools offer degrees in general business management, most give you the opportunity to specialize in specific areas of business, such as finance, accounting, marketing, or even global management, entrepreneurship or luxury-brand management. These programs also allow you to gain a well-rounded education through elective courses that include world languages, math and sciences, social studies, literature and the arts. You will not only graduate with a business degree, but also a wealth of knowledge that will boost your ability to think critically across many disciplines, a skill that employers value.
You should not underestimate the importance of faculty in American business schools. Professors are trained from top universities and can deliver the most up-to-date information to students explains Dr. Yan. They are not only professors, but also researchers and mentors.
Professors schedule regular office hours when students can consult with them one-on-one to review coursework or discuss career plans. They will advise you of internship opportunities, and help you complete applications for employment or graduate school. As they get to know you, they will serve as your advocate, writing you letters of recommendation and connecting you with others who can help you succeed.
Susquehanna University accounting student, Michael Dolan, credits his recent internship success to such advocacy. He worked as a tax intern for Deloitte last summer, in New York City, doing tax planning for hedge and mutual funds clients. He credits faculty member Barbara Martin with setting him up with the right classes early on so that he would be prepared to step in to a demanding internship.
"She pointed me in the right direction," says Dolan. "The things I did in my internship are what I want to do in my career."
As you search websites of colleges and universities that interest you, it’s a good idea to read the curriculum vitae of faculty members who teach in your area of specialization. You’ll find out more about their educational background and research interests, and gain insight into what you might learn from them.
Accreditation sets schools apart.
How do you know if a business school meets the highest standard of excellence? Look for accreditation from AACSB International. The longest-serving association dedicated to advancing management education worldwide, AACSB accredits 775 of the world’s best business schools in 52 countries and territories.
AACSB accreditation ensures that the school follows a rigorous curriculum taught by highly qualified faculty, and that it undergoes continuous assessment and improvement.
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