What makes an MBA program truly ‘international?’ Is it the class composition? Location? Programming? Or, is it a commitment – a sensibility that’s woven throughout the curriculum. The McDonough School ranks among America’s most globally-centered program, thanks to its mission to use business as a means to serve.
The make-up of the class is one difference at McDonough. According to Prashant Malaviya, the school’s senior associate dean, three-quarters of the Class of 2021 has lived, studied, or worked overseas, bringing a more diverse set of experiences to the classroom. In fact, the global dimension is so pronounced that its Structure of Global Industries course kicks off the core curriculum. However, the class does far more than talk. Along with an extensive portfolio of treks, the program requires a mandatory Global Business Experience. Here, students partner with firms like Dell and 3M in nations ranging from China to Brazil.
“We believe the best way to learn about global business is to experience global business first-hand,” Malaviya explains. “That is why we require all of our MBA students to complete a consulting project with a global company and then travel to that country to meet with their client and refine their final presentation. While they are there, we engage them in company visits and meetings with alumni to provide a view into what it is like to do business outside of the United States.”
Of course, McDonough possesses an advantage in building a program with a truly global scope and focus. It is the home of embassies and institutions like The World Bank, a place where business and social interests intersect from across the globe. That creates avenues for McDonough students to access experts, facilitators, and decision-makers in ways that are unparalleled anywhere else.
“I mean you literally have every single embassy and so many Fortune 500 companies have offices here,” Malaviya tells P&Q. “You have more international visitors, from a political perspective than most other cities in the U.S. It’s a place where you can find a like-minded group of people who are reasonable and thoughtful and likely more so than many other parts of the country.”
Sure, McDonough’s curriculum is steeped in international introspection and a location that rivals New York City and London. That said, McDonough boasts something that’s impossible to fake: happy employers. In Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2018 corporate recruiter survey, the school racked up some of the highest scores in areas like Best Trained MBAs, Most Innovative MBAs, Most Diverse, and Brand Value. The program has also tinkered with its programming, adding a community immersion to begin the program and an executive challenge to expose students to the larger McDonough community. In December, the program announced the addition of an MBA Certificate in Sustainable Business to address larger social and environmental issues.
This move closely aligns with the chieff tenet of McDonough’s Jesuit philosophy: Cura Personalis – “Care for the whole person.” The goal, says Malaviya, is to expose students to broader topics so they can develop a better-rounded perspective on how business can better serve society. This is all brought together, he adds, with an Ignatian teaching model.
“This involves focusing on three things as the curriculum unfolds: give students the opportunity to learn relevant knowledge, then provide them the opportunity to put this knowledge into action, and finally create mechanisms that allow for reflection – particularly self-reflection – for growth and transformation of the individual and peers.”
Perhaps the biggest draw for McDonough, however, is how in tune it was with twentysomething sentiment. Despite its 16th century pedagogical roots, the program taps into the increasing need for students to find purpose and create impact through business.
“I was driven to Georgetown by the overarching idea that the world doesn’t need more MBAs who are only and primarily personally successful,” explains Michael Cox, a member of the 2020 Class. “Instead, it needs business students and leaders who are individually successful and who also disrupt and improve inefficient and inequitable systems across and between sectors.”