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.”

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