10 Business Schools To Watch In 2019

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

You won’t find a business school with more inherent advantages than Columbia Business School. That starts with its New York City locale, where nearly every Fortune 500 company is just a cab or subway ride away from its Morningside Heights campus. Indeed, the Big Apple boasts every industry and every stage imaginable. That makes it all the easier for CBS MBAs to build a robust rolodex of contacts from company leaders to specialty practitioners. With flexible schedules and Fridays off, students can easily take on internships during the school year.

In its tagline, CBS hails itself as being “at the very center of business.” What they don’t tell you is the school is also at the very center of the arts, fashion, and media too. While Wall Street and a booming startup scene are major enticements, the campus life is equally alluring. A large MBA program par excellence, students can also choose from over 200 electives. Thanks to being just a few miles from Midtown and Wall Street, the school attracts the most coveted speakers and executives-in-residence…not to mention adjunct faculty like Barry Salzberg, the former Deloitte CEO who runs the school’s consulting immersion. Let’s not forget clubs. The school sponsors over a hundred, which range from banking, consulting, and fintech to cycling, sailing, and squash.

Despite being an Ivy in “The City that never sleeps,” Columbia remains a bit underrated as a whole. You’d never know it by the numbers posted by the Class of 2020. As usual, the admissions department was awash in applications, accepting just 17% as students – with nearly three-quarters ultimately accepting their offer. At the same time, the class posted an all-time high in average GMATs at 732, higher than even Harvard Business School. Whatever you do, don’t dismiss CBS as a “finance school.” That’s so 2007, with consulting firms now drawing more graduates than banks.

What’s holding CBS back? That’s easy: Uris Hall – with a charmless exterior that was seemingly inspired by 1950s-style public housing. That’s about to change, as the school is opening a new building in Manhattanville in 2022 that promised to be among the most state-of-the-art in the industry. That’s not the only big news. In June, Glenn Hubbard will step down as dean after 15 years in the role. While Hubbard’s tenure was unquestionably successful, this change represents an opportunity for new ideas to take root at the school.

Unfortunately, these advantages aren’t the only reasons why CBS is a school to watch. Let’s just say school administration wasn’t sad to see 2018 go. In July, the school was assigned to pay $1.25 million dollars in damages to Enricheeta Ravina, a former assistant professor, in a sexual harassment and retaliation case against Geert Bekaert, an award-winning finance professor. That comes on the heels of several harassment cases involving faculty being investigated at the school. In November, another bombshell dropped, when a first-year claimed she was drugged and raped by a classmate at an off-campus gathering.

Are these events indicative of a certain culture at the school – or is CBS just reflective of what happens more discreetly on other MBA campuses? Even more, how will the school react to these events to better protect students and faculty? The answers may just determine how CBS will be viewed in the coming years – and that makes it truly a school to watch.

Vanderbilt Owen students visited 11 different banks and financial firms over fall break, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. Vanderbilt photo

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Business

Here’s a stat to remember: Healthcare now accounts for 18% of American GDP…or $3.5 trillion dollars annually.

Impressed? Just wait until you get a load of this next number: Over half of all private hospital beds are managed out of Nashville.


Indeed, the region is home base for over 500 health care companies, which generate over $92 billion a year and account for over a half million jobs. That includes giants like Hospital Corporation of America and Community Health Systems. Together, they operate nearly 300 hospitals and surgical centers in the U.S. and U.K. It isn’t just the big players reaping the rewards. Nashville-area healthcare startups attracted $1.6 billion dollars in investment from 2005-2015. One such startup, Intermedix, made a $460 million dollar exit last year.

Get the picture? The Owen School certainly does. Each year, 16% to 20% of their students enter the healthcare field after graduation – more than double the rate of any full-time MBA program. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Vanderbilt Medical Center, one of the nation’s largest hospital complexes, is just five minutes down 21st Avenue from Owen. Such connections are just one of the inherent advantages enjoyed by Owen grads who complete a healthcare concentration.

“It’s just the place to be,” says Owen’s Christie St. John, Owen’s MBA admissions director in an interview with P&Q. “Why would you want to be anywhere else? Because you’ve got personalized attention — personalized services. All the alums, all the companies are right here at your fingertips.”

Indeed, the healthcare industry is changing rapidly in ways that are particularly attractive to MBAs observes Owen Dean Eric Johnson. Notably, it has grown increasingly “professionalized,” he says in a 2018 Q&A with P&Q. By that, he means that they now involve more complexity, where an MD doesn’t cover the specialized training in areas like finance to run a large organization. At the same time, Johnson adds, healthcare delivery is pivoting more towards MBA strengths.

“The U.S. health care system is in a constant state of churn, and it’s creating a lot of opportunities to roll up all kinds of specialties. For example, anesthesiologists, emergency room doctors, whatever, they get bundled up as a service sold back to hospitals. It’s very much a roll up kind of industry right now, and that’s an MBA sweet spot. MBAs love conquering the world, rolling up an industry and a very fragmented industry at that.”

Such opportunities leave the school poised for a major jump in prestige and value in the coming years. Of course, an Owen healthcare concentration isn’t your standard classroom fare. If MBA candidates want to study healthcare at Owen, they’ll need to get their hands dirty. That’s why the program opens with an immersion, where students shadow doctors, nurses, and patients, witnessing everything from surgeries to check-ups. In the process, they gain an understanding of the daily routines that stakeholders follow and the issues they encounter. Such exercises give Owen graduates the tools to sharpen their decision-making and provide the know-how needed to truly adapt and innovate in a fast-moving industry.

“Owen allowed me to come in with somewhat of a head start,” adds Jameson Norton (’15), CEO at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics and executive director at Vanderbilt Behavioral Health. “We’re talking a lot about how things are evolving and you’re able to learn about some of the potential disrupters and the ways that things are transforming. That helps you anticipate where things are moving. It gives you a vision for where we’re headed.”

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