In The Shadows Of Duke & UNC

A hidden gem of a business school at North Carolina State

A hidden gem of a business school at North Carolina State

These days, companies want graduates who can hit the ground running. There may be a steep learning curve, but there’s little time for hand-holding and even less patience for mistakes.

That’s a lot to expect. But it’s that type of graduate that North Carolina State’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management is trying to deliver. While the school lacks the big brand cache of such prestige rivals as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, some corporate recruiters have taken note.

According to U.S. News and World Report’s ranking, recruiters surveyed by the magazine give Jenkins an impressive 33rd place finish, while U.S. News’ overall ranking for the school puts the full-time MBA program at 88th. It is one of the biggest disparities in U.S. News’ ranking of the best business schools in the U.S.


What’s behind the gap? Jenkins has smartly drawn on its flagship’s roots as a STEM school, creating a high tech, hands-on, cross-curricular model that could someday serve as a model for other MBA programs.

Founded in 2002, Jenkins’ MBA program is hidden in the shadow of Fuqua and Kenan-Flagler, which are only 20 minutes down the road. As a result, Jenkins must cater to a different type of student – a group seeking a practical, applied curriculum that emphasizes hands-on experience in projects. As a whole, N.C. State ranks among the academic leaders in industry-sponsored research, serving as the largest supplier of graduates to IBM and Cisco.

Jenkins’ MBA program, which is part of the Poole College of Management, currently has 352 students, with 82 full-time, 73 online, and 197 professional students. While nearly every professional student hails from the Raleigh area, North Carolina residents only account for 63% of the full-time students and 83% of the online program, with students coming from as far away as Massachusetts and Colorado.


While there is a standard 2:1 split between men and women in each program, the most recent of full-time students averaged a 627 GMAT and 3.4 GPA (with online and professional coming in at 581/3.1 and 562/3.2, respectively). For in-state students, the program costs nearly $40,000 for full-time and almost $35,000 for online (with professional costing between $35,000 and $45,000). Nearly 75% of full-timers receive some sort of scholarship or fellowship.

Unlike most MBA programs, over half of the students possess engineering, computer science and technical degrees. And those are the type of students who fit Jenkins’ profile. According to Dean Ira Weiss, Jenkins has no interest in competing against Fuqua or Kenan-Flagler. After all, it lacks the resources and the repetitional capital to play in that game. Instead, Weiss, a UCLA Ph.D. who previously served as dean of the Madrid Business School in Spain, has a different model in mind. “I aspire to be more like MIT, Purdue, and Georgia Tech: A business school that’s part of a university that’s engineering dominant. That’s where we can have a real advantage, with the ability to draw from the engineering school and their faculty and students, to be part of their engineering research centers and have our faculty part of their Federal grants.”

  • UNCovereverything

    What are you NCSU’s spokesperson?

  • Matt

    UNC is consistently ranked as ~ the 18th best business school in the country. Do you know how many business schools there are? How is that not elite? I mean I get the idea that Harvard, Stanford, and about 15 others are ranked higher, but come on, 18 is really quite good in the scheme of things. Also starting salaries are good and people are placed very well, especially in financial services. No there is not such a strong MBB or other “gold-plated” presence (as Sandy would say), but guys, seriously, it is a big world out there are and there are lots of other companies looking for good people!

    Just saying.. And yes I go to UNC. 🙂

  • Wonderer

    so many gaps over there 😉

  • ra

    H/S gap W gap MIT, Columbia gap Kellogg gap Booth gap Tuck gap the rest

  • John

    Generally agree with this comment. As someone at an “M7” school, I will tell you that b-school arguments that try to nitpick rankings are generally moot. If top recruiters come to your school, the main issue is getting an interview. At that point, it’s all about how well you do in the interview process.

    For example, I will be going to an MBB firm after graduation. Having gone through the entire [very time consuming, challenging, and exhausting] process, I can tell you that having a 700+ (ideally, 720-730+, or even 750+) GMAT, academic honors of some kind, and leadership/impact will be far more important than what school you went to, assuming it’s still “tier 1.” A 680 GMAT from Harvard will have a much harder time getting an interview (all things considered equal) than a 750 GMAT from NYU. MBB firms are notoriously picky about scores in this regard and with good reason. First-year consultant work is very analytical, structured, and numbers-based. Like it or not, this is the reality of recruiting despite how much people like to downplay the importance of test scores.

    Having said that, after you get an interview at an MBB, it’s all about fit and performance. I saw numerous 750-770 GMAT applicants get rejected at the top firms (although many got in). I also saw 700-720 GMAT applicants get in to MBB at the most competitive NYC, NJ, and London locations. Having a great day during the interview and being the right fit for the right firm were ultimately the most important things–conditional, of course, on getting an interview.

    I will say though that for certain industries like PE, VC, or hedge funds, going to Harvard, Columbia, or Wharton will definitely be important since those types of industries are very much still a “boys’ club.”

  • Dutch Ducre

    Uh no. Tuck is way above Yale, Duke is above UCLA and Haas is more in line with Emory

  • Dutch Ducre

    Booth trolling, not even close buddy
    Sounds like Haas trolling also…

  • DJCurrySpice

    The Top 15 are: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck, MIT, Columbia, Haas, Yale, NYU, Duke, Michigan, Cornell, Virginia. Every one of these schools is “elite” and “tier 1”. If you want to split hairs, you can break this group in to different sections, but at the end of the day, for the HIGH majority of recruiters, etc. these are the schools they will grab a majority of their annual recruits from. Obviously the higher you are on this list the better (e.g. M7 + Tuck), but you cannot tell me that someone graduating from Yale is a lot better than someone graduating from Duke, or that going to Stanford means you will have better career than someone who graduated from Booth. All of this banter back and forth is useless.

  • Myron

    NC State Jenkins deserves credit for its clear strategy and execution. It operates in an overcrowded MBA market with smaller funds, yet it punches above its weigh and earns respect from core recruiters. It’s STEM students are well prepared for the job market and occupies a lucrative niche.

  • Bob 2

    agreed. this type of banter is a smear on this website and the hard work that goes into producing it. not to mention should be embarrassing for the people involved.

  • Bob

    wow this discussion is so useless. just get a good job after b-school and stop quibbling over, comparing, and ranking ridiculously unimportant things. only losers waste time arguing over such matters instead of focusing on being great in whatever they do.

  • foreman

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Wonderer

    small correction: HSWB…gap…Tuck, Columbia, MIT, Kellogg…gap..Haas, Duke, Darden, Cornell, UMich…and then the others..

  • GetOut

    I think Yale leapfrogged Haas/Tuck. Duke is at the UCLA level

  • AIG_Quant



  • alchemist

    That’s not the point. The point is that they made it to those positions in the first place. Also, you are sorely mistaken if you believe than Tuck and Haas are superior to the schools you listed above. Don’t believe the propaganda.

  • It’s Whatever

    Harvey, the President was Richard Nixon and the CEO of GM was Rick Waggoner, who will go down in history as one of the biggest wealth destroyers of all time. But getting to your point, Duke/Darden/Michigan/NYU/Cornell/Yale/UCLA are all in the same MBA tier. To argue about one being better than the other is ridiculous. All these schools have graduates doing great things. All have great teachers and administrators. Is there a difference between the #10 school and $15 school? Strongly doubt it. UNC? Can any person say it is really lower than the seven schools just listed? UNC MBA grads are all over the place doing well. Back to the article – hats off to NC State coming up with a niche and making it work. There are more than 20-25 schools in this great country of ours that produce quality MBAs. For crying out loud, can we at least agree to that?

  • opens

    No one thinks Cornell is elite lol.

  • haha

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  • Booth.Grad

    You’re right about UNC, you’re way off base when it comes to Duke.

  • harvey

    3 of Apple’s 9 top executives, 3 of Microsoft’s top executives, Cisco’s CEO, the President of GM, the President of Volkswagen North America, the founder of the Carlyle group, the founder of PIMCO, 31 members of congress, 1 american president, 14 billionaires, 4 Nobel laureates, 40 Rhodes scholars, 25 Marshall scholars, 25 Churchill scholars, the former CEOs of GM, Medtronic, BNY Mellon, Kraft, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Pfizer, Bear Sterns and Wachovia. What do they all have in common? They all graduated from Duke.

  • movingon

    It think everyone is getting all up in arms for almost no reason. Obviously you and the OP have different definitions of what “elite” means. So what? Why spend time arguing past each other when you’re not even talking about the same thing?

  • You’re_a_wannabe_moron

    I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about. Also, ‘elite’ doesn’t have to be capitalized. It’s not a proper noun. Didn’t they teach that to you at Stanford? Oh wait, you don’t actually go there. What a joke.

  • Ben

    Both schools are excellent, top schools….stupid comment.

  • Dutch Ducre

    I didn’t go to Duke but it is absolutely an elite school. I bet you think Cornell is elite but not Duke lol

  • metric0

    Stanford would be really pleased to have you I’m sure, given your ability to be argumentative about completely irrelevant and extraneous information.

    The piece is about NC State’s strategy. Get over yourself.

  • applicant

    Duke is Top 10, why don’t you actually get into Stanford before you get all elitist.

  • WannabeStanford

    I’m not sure Duke and UNC are ‘Elite’ schools