Meet Minnesota Carlson’s MBA Class Of 2022

First day of class at the Carlson MBA


This year’s class features 74 full-time MBA students. They bring a 659 average GMAT, with scores ranging from 590-720 in the mid-80% range. The undergraduate GPA averaged 3.44, with averages running from 3.01-3.83 in the same range. Women and international students account for 31% and 12% of the class respectively.

Academically, 27% of the class holds undergraduate degrees in Business and Commerce. Another 20% studied Social Science, followed by Science and Mathematics (18%), Engineering (13.5%), Economics (12%), and the Humanities (9.5%). In terms of professional experience, the largest segment of the class most recently worked in Business and Financial Operations (22.97%). Management (18.92%) and Consulting (01.81%) also represent large blocs of the class. The rest of the class includes students from the following fields: Engineering, Social Service, Construction, Education, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare, Human Resources, Life Sciences, Sales, and Transportation.

In January, the Carlson MBA made news, finishing 11th in in The Economist’s Global MBA rankings. Notably, the program ranked 5th in Career Services and 12th in Alumni Effectiveness according to students and alumni surveyed by The Economist. The GBCC – Carlson’s Graduate Business Career Center – was certainly popular among students. During the 2019-2020 school year, the center’s coaches conducted over 4,400 coaching sessions – a 10% uptick over the previous year. That doesn’t count the 855 employer meetings and 174 events run by the center.

“We definitely were really busy giving our MBAs very tailored service,” says Maggie Tomas, director of the graduate business career center in a 2020 interview with P&Q. “We have a smaller class size, so we’re able. But we serve a lot of programs. We have a really good part-time population, nearly a thousand. And then we have a small full-time population and then a growing number of specialty masters in business. Our full-time classes hover around 75 in the past few years. So we have coaches that support all of these programs, yet students can see any coach. The full-time population ends up getting really specialized services because our team is fairly large. They get to know a coach really well. And so I think what happened is, we already knew our students very, very well — typically students use anywhere from 18 to 22 appointments with us by the time they graduate. So if you consider that they were three months shy of graduation when Covid hit, they knew us really well.”

Carlson ambassadors in action


One surprising stat about the Carlson School: it features the highest percentage of entrepreneurs-in-residence of any business school. That’s one reason why the program is considered among the best kept secrets in the field. At the same time, Carlson has long been associated with healthcare. The Mayo Clinic is just 90 minutes south of the Twin Cities. That doesn’t count the sizable presence of medical device firms like Medtronic, 3M, Boston Scientific, Abbott Laboratories, Coloplast, and Smiths Medical. Together, these firms employ over 100,000 people – many in the Twin Cities region. Sure enough, the school devotes heavy resources to healthcare according to Phil Miller, assistant dean, MBA and MS programs.

Recently, P&Q asked Miller to take us inside how Carlson has been able to excel in areas like healthcare, experiential learning, and career services. In a far-ranging interview, Miller also outlines upcoming developments in the MBA program along with how Carlson has been able to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are Miller’s insights on what to expect at Carlson and why.

P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?

Miller: “We’re very pleased that we have been able to diversify and broaden the geographic scope of our Global Enrichment courses and destinations. The team in the Carlson Global Institute has done a great job of listening to student interests and lining that up with faculty capacity. New programs in Ghana and Morocco are exciting for students and enhance our portfolio of global opportunities.”

P&Q: What are the two most unique or differentiating features of your full-time program? How do they enrich the MBA experience?

Miller: “Experiential Learning. The Carlson MBA has long focused on the power of learning through doing. We have had required hands-on projects since the 1960s. Our Enterprise Programs are required of all full time MBAs and are two semester, immersive practicums in a variety of focus areas (Brands/Marketing, Consulting/General Management, Finance/Funds, Ventures/Entrepreneurship). Each Enterprise is led by an experienced industry veteran as clinical faculty who works with students individually and in small teams to deliver high-impact project or investment results to fee-paying external clients. The experiential emphasis forces students to take the concepts and tools they learn from our world-class faculty and adapt and apply them in pragmatic ways for real-world clients. Most alumni consider their Enterprise the signature experience in the program.

Healthcare. The Carlson School FT MBA program regularly places a high portion of each class in the healthcare industry. The Carlson School’s Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI) is a powerful asset for students as they take elective courses in topics like The Healthcare Marketplace, Healthcare Law, Med Tech Evaluation, and many more. A signature course is the Medical Industry Valuation Laboratory, an experiential course offered in several formats. This preparation makes our MBA students competitive in the Healthcare Industry, where Minneapolis-St. Paul is a global hub. United Health Group (Optum & United Healthcare), Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Abbott Laboratories, The Mayo Clinic, 3M and many other global or national firms are either headquartered or have major operations in Minnesota. It’s a gold mine for students interested in any of the major sectors: delivery, technology, and payments.”

Philip Miller, assistant dean of MBA & MS programs at Minnesota Carlson. Carlson photo

P&Q:  How has COVID-19 impacted your business school?

Miller: “COVID has had a wide range of impacts. Several rise to the top:

Our campus went fully online as did most in March. Since the Fall 2020 term, we have had a mix of hybrid and online delivery. As a result, we fully realized the value of a decade of investing in online instruction. Because we have an Online MBA program and an incredibly strong internal IT and instructional design team, we were able to pivot to online instruction rapidly and with excellent results. So, while our residential students wanted to be face-to-face, the survey results on their experience were quite encouraging. Our faculty has embraced remote teaching to good effect this year.

To repeat a common refrain these days, we are seeing the acceleration of the trend towards virtual delivery for working professionals, alumni, and various other audiences. In particular, we are investing in improved classroom technology and infrastructure to better enable “HyFlex’, or synchronous face-to-face and online delivery. This will pay dividends in many ways in the coming years.

Our students particularly miss seeing each other. We have created an excellent academic and co-curricular experience for them this year, but all parties long to be back together in whatever the “new normal” will look like as immunity levels rise with the vaccination rollout.”

P&Q: The Carlson School ranks among the top MBA programs for healthcare. Talk to us about some of the programming that sets you apart such as the Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI)?

Miller: “Students interested in healthcare have a variety of ways to immerse themselves in the industry, generally through MILI as well as strong employer ties through the Graduate Business Career Center.

We offer extensive elective coursework that covers the waterfront of industry considerations, from payer to provider to technology.

Our class is composed of fellow travelers with extensive interest and experience. Our dual-degree programs with sister graduate programs in the UMN Academic Health Center means many in each cohort are active in the medical field already. ~15% of each class is comprised of dual-degree candidates, including MDs, PharmDs, and Master of Healthcare Administration candidates.

Engagement opportunities are everywhere given our location at the heart of a global healthcare hub. A brief list includes regular speakers, a mentorship program, healthcare-oriented travel opportunities (Palo Alto, Stockholm, Shanghai), and our hands-on Valuation Lab course.

Employment opportunities. Typically, ~20% of each class is placed in healthcare related roles. Recruiting partners include: Abbott, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, United Health Group as well as numerous consulting firms seeking students with healthcare expertise like Accenture, Chartis, and several additional boutique firms.

Our MILI Student Association, Affiliates Program as well as our Executives and Residence create a strong sense of community as well as deep and broad cross-industry networks.

We also have prominent and respected healthcare-focused faculty and our location in the heart of a major healthcare hub makes much of this possible.”

Carlson jobs fair

P&Q: The Carlson MBA program was one of the pioneers in experiential learning. Talk to us about your Enterprise programs. What types of Enterprise projects have your MBAs done and what are the biggest takeaways they gain from these experiences?  

Miller: “As mentioned earlier, each of our Enterprises (Brand, Consulting, Funds, Ventures) is led by industry professionals with decades of experience. They source clients and work with students to deliver projects in a wide range of areas. Recent projects have included traditional corporate projects like market entry strategy, process improvement, consumer insights, product portfolio assessment, as well as many start-up related projects. Additionally, our Funds Enterprise manages ~$45MM of client money split between an equity and fixed-income fund. But many projects extend beyond what might be expected from a business school…like addressing employment equity barriers, sustainable supply chain design for the great lakes fishing industry, and a variety of additional non-profit/social impact clients.

Students are consistently surprised at how much, and what, they learn. There are straightforward lessons like how to apply the tools and concepts they’ve been taught in a real-world context. But more often the deeper learning is in the realm of “how to be effective.” Teamwork, client management, effective communication, planning, and execution are all hard to simulate in a case discussion. The reality of clients, high expectations, and a fixed timeline forces a discipline and level of engagement that is different from a traditional class. Students feel more skin in the game and rise to the occasion.”

Page 3: Profiles of 12 Carlson MBA students.

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