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Poets&Quants Top Business Schools
University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration
Nathan Allen December 5, 2016
Contact our general manager with any questions. Profile updated: December 5, 2017.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
Total Cost (In-State): $128,176*
Total Cost (Out-of-State): $179,056*
Internship Rate: 82%
Graduates With Jobs 90 Days After Graduation: 88.37%
Total Average Compensation (Including Bonus): $58,100
When do students declare their majors: Freshman Year
Acceptance Rate: 44%
Average SAT: 1330
Average ACT: 28
HS Class Top Ten: 65.31%*
*Total Cost In-State and Out-of-State is the estimated total cost of earning the degree over four years including tuition, fees, room, board, and living expenses for the most recent graduating class.
* HS Class Top Ten is the percent of the student population that graduated high school in the top ten percent of their class.
Blake Carroll had narrowed his choice of school down to two contenders: Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh. What finally tipped the scales favor of Pitt, he says, was something of a paradox: its bustling urban location and its small, more intimate program.
“Penn State, if you remove the campus, there’s not much there. Whereas Pittsburgh is a city, which is definitely more my style,” says Carroll, who graduated from Pitt in the top 10% of his 2014 class.
Pittsburgh is a big, thriving city, Carroll points out, making it an ideal place for business students to learn. And while its location was a big draw, what particularly appealed to Carroll about Pitt — and what continues to be unique about the undergrad B-school — was its leadership and ethics certificate, a 15-credit “elevated minor” that gave Carroll and his classmates a three-year immersion in principled capitalism.
“The certificate program in leadership and ethics was all about instilling these principles in you to ensure that when you took a position of leadership in a company or organization, you had a foundation of ethical principles — whether it be your company’s, your own, etc.,” says Carroll, who went to work for power management company Eaton after graduating and currently works as a product sales manager. “Think of any example of controversy in business, and the whole idea of the program is formed out of the question, ‘How do you not let that happen?’
“And what was really cool about the program was, you got to travel with the same group of folks for the three years that you did it. I think our class was 30, but that’s a really small group, so you got to learn about everybody, and the majority of folks in the program were also leaders in student organizations so you were around really high-caliber individuals. So it pushed you.”
AN INTEGRATED EXPERIENCE
Audrey Murrell, associate dean of Pitt’s undergraduate program, the College of Business Administration, says no other U.S. university has a program like Pitt’s leadership and ethics certificate. “Other schools,” she says, “come here and look at what we’re doing and study our particular approach here.”
Those other schools might ponder some of Pittsburgh’s other strategies, Murrell says. Chief among them, she says, is the school’s message of taking its students “from the classroom, to the city, to the world,” the three key pieces of the Pitt business experience: strong academics, experiences outside the classroom that complement that academic preparation, and a global program portfolio that works with the classroom experience, including projects and internships.
“They all work together,” Murrell says, “to provide a very integrated experience that we know from our recruiters does a very good job at preparing them to hit the ground running and have an immediate impact. But we’re trying to get students to be well-rounded, not just in terms of what they’re doing for the employer but what they’re doing outside of the work environment — and so leadership development, social impact, are very important to the students here. And that’s brings it back to the advantage we have in being in this city — the city is really our classroom here. And we take full advantage of being in a terrific city like Pittsburgh.”
Pitt Business students are offered numerous professionally focused, experiential learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom, Murrell says, including real-world projects through a Projects in Marketing Course, in which students develop a comprehensive marketing campaign for a real client such as American Eagle Outfitters, Honda, the National Football League, and FOX Sports; and the Practicum in Portfolio Management, in which finance majors actively manage a university-funded investment portfolio and interact with investment management professionals, gaining Bloomberg certification along the way.
GETTING IN, AND ONCE YOU’RE THERE
Admission to Pitt Business hinges on high school grades, strength of the curriculum completed, class rank, and SAT/ACT scores. The average SAT score for the freshman class entering in fall 2017 was 1330 on the new 1600-point scale and the average composite ACT was 28. Pitt’s acceptance rate was 44%. Based on their high school backgrounds, students may begin taking business classes at Pitt in their freshman year; core courses taken frequently by freshmen include Managing in Complex Environments and Organizational Behavior.
Students also have a lot of flexibility in taking electives to complement their major. Most students take between 12 to 18 credits of electives to complement the business core curriculum (36 credits) and major requirements (15-21 credits).
It’s OK for B-school students to have a non-business minor, Murrell says. “For example, a number of our students will have an economics minor, so our curriculum is flexible enough that we see a lot of students taking double majors. You’ll see a lot of students doing marketing and supply chain, for example, or finance and supply chain. They might do marketing, supply chain, and a certificate in international business, for instance, or finance, accounting, and a certificate in business analytics. And so our curriculum does allow for that flexibility.”
STUDYING ABROAD: IT’S ABOUT ‘SITUATED LEARNING’
Murrell says Pitt students are also offered a wealth of experience-based learning opportunities, such as internships and class projects with real companies — companies that later comprise the bulk of recruiters responsible for Pitt’s 88% placement rate three months after graduation, including top destinations like PNC Financial Services Group, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, PwC, and Eaton. The average salary for new grads was $56,000 — up from $55,000 in 2016. Some 82% get an edge by completing internships before their senior year, with a growing list of more than 400 employers to choose from.
But perhaps Pitt’s biggest draw lies in its offerings outside the U.S. Nearly half of Pitt’s business undergrads complete an international experience during their four years through the Global Business Institute and International Internship Program, offered in London, Sydney, Shanghai, Florence, and Buenos Aires, or other study abroad options in more than 75 countries. The learning abroad, Murrell says, is tailored to the locale — so students learn about supply chain management in Sydney or Shanghai, for example, or finance and accounting in London.
“We really believe that studying abroad is not just about moving to a different location, it’s about situated learning,” Murrell says. “And so we wanted all the learning to be situated in a context that’s relevant for what the student is trying to do. The location and what you’re studying are meshed together so that the learning is situated.” In addition to short-term, theme-based programs — learning about coffee supply chain in Costa Rica or maritime supply chain in Cyprus — Pitt is ramping up a series of global projects that will further set the school apart on the undergrad level, Murrell says.
“We’re working with our Pitt business student organizations to custom-build international experiences that are project-based for students to go to a particular location and for us to develop partnerships with organizations there, so that year over year we are addressing particular global issues with our students and those partners. That way the international portfolio starts to make sense — it starts to be an experience that students not only understand but that they can explain to recruiters. ‘I went to Sydney was because I’m a supply chain major, I did an international internship, I took supply chain course’ — so it works together in a much more coherent way than we’ve typically seen at the undergraduate level.”
26TH AMONG 82 SCHOOLS — WITH SILVER LININGS
Pitt made the biggest year-over-year jump in the P&Q ranking, going from 40th overall among the 50 schools in 2016 to 26th out of 82 this year. The vault came from a stellar alumni survey. Instead of 39th, where they finished last year in the alumni survey, Pitt finished 16th this year.
Still, citing Businessweek’s 2016 ranking that put Pitt ninth in recruiter feedback (and fifth among public schools), Murrell calls the school’s numbers “solid.” She says in particular, Pitt is “very happy” about its $56,000 average starting salary three months after graduation — which was up from $53,400 in 2015.
“We’re very pleased about the feedback from our recruiters, so in that last Businessweek undergraduate survey not only did we rise, but the number that I really care about is the feedback from recruiters. Another number that I pay a lot of attention to is four-year graduation rate and six-year graduation rate, and our four is a little bit below 85%.
“We’re always looking to get our students better prepared to do more internships, and the more internships that they do, that are meaningful, paid or unpaid, the better they do in terms of job placement. It really helps that we’re situated right in the midst of some amazing innovation and economic development — Pittsburgh is the perfect place for business students to learn and apply, because not only are we in an urban environment, but we have such strong partners that students can get their hands in all kinds of things that are the application of what they’re learning in the classroom.”
LEADERSHIP, ETHICS, AND STRONG OUTCOMES
Blake Carroll landed just outside Pitt’s average graduating salary, earning $57,000 to start at Eaton, where he’d had not one but two internships as an undergrad.
Earning a 4.0 in major courses helped his cause. Also helping his cause, he says, was having earned his certificate in leadership and ethics, and having taken part in numerous real-world projects — from his sophomore year on — with top companies.
“Pittsburgh is one of the very few schools that offer a certificate in leadership and ethics,” Carroll notes. “When you go to a company like Eaton, which is rightfully proud of their ethics and morals and standing by their ethics, to be able to show on your resume that you earned a certificate in ethics, it speaks highly of the school and the student.
“And on top of that, what we worked on were super meaningful projects, whether with legitimate companies in the city of Pittsburgh — Heinz or the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center or Dick’s Sporting Goods — and they gave you these projects and at the end of the day they were super thankful for our work, because we saved them money or we saved them time and provided sustainable solutions.
“So we really got to see an impact and we were really thanked and appreciated, so that was really cool,” says Carroll, who adds that he is considering pursuing an MBA and has Pitt on his shortlist of possible destinations. “Being a sophomore and having no idea what I really wanted to do, I was able to be in meetings with executives or upper-level management and shoot ideas off of them and have them critique my work, and that gave me really nice exposure really early on.”
WHAT ALUMNI SAY
“Our capstone course for the Global Management major was focused on finding business opportunities within a foreign country. Throughout the capstone course, we researched and learned about the cultural differences about the country of focus and we eventually formulated a business idea for that country based on a long period of research. At the end of the semester, we presented to high level board members of a local financial company and received feedback.
“Through the International Internship Program, I was set up with an internship and housing in Madrid, Spain at Morningstar Inc. There were other countries to choose from and the process was very smooth and I gained an invaluable experience.” — Class of 14 Grad
“My ‘signature experiences’ are what prepared me the most for the real business world. I was very active in the business community because there were plenty of opportunities that CBA provided.
“I was fortunate enough to be President of a business organization, which was HUGE in helping me grow as a business leader and teammate. I was part of the Certificate Program in Leadership and Ethics, where I had access to 20 bright students and we worked together for 3 years on real-world consulting projects for local clients in Pittsburgh; I participated in our International Internship Program where I interned in Madrid for the summer and gained start-up experience at a company that only spoke Spanish; I signed up to be a Freshman Team Leader, helping to lead a freshman introductory business course and mentoring several students throughout the semester; and I was also the only student to participate on the Dean Search Committee, which lended me the opportunity to work with faculty and staff directly on selecting the best person for the job. I am grateful to CBA because when I sought out an alumni from Pitt (he was a grad student in Engineering) and asked him to refer me to my dream company, LinkedIn, he did it without a doubt. And when it came to the interview, I had a myriad number of extracurricular activities that I could talk about.” — Class of 14 Grad
“Global Immersion and Experiential Learning experiences through the business programs ‘Certificate in Leadership and Ethics’ program. These experiences were the closest ‘real-world’ simulations of work outside of the classroom. I came away from these experiences with enhanced soft-skills and a more realistic viewpoint about how to engage in a client/consultant relationship.
“… I have been to Brazil in a group of student consultants working to provided recommendations to a paper recycling company to improve sustainability and promote socially responsible business operations. From this experience, I came away with an appreciation for other cultures and a more global perspective on problems.” — Class of 14 Grad
Where the Class of 2015 went to work:
BNY Mellon: 4
DICK’s Sporting Goods: 4
Amazon, Yelp, SEI Investments, Schneider Downs, NoWait, KPMG: 3
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The Pitt Business curriculum leads to the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree. Students can earn the BSBA within the following majors:
Business Information Systems
Human Resources Management
Supply Chain Management