10 Business Schools To Watch In 2024

The Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2025. Duke photo

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

How do you know what kind of job you’re doing? People will tell you…and they won’t be shy if it’s anonymous.

That’s the real beauty of The Princeton Review’s annual survey of MBA students and recent graduates. You might not get school scores, but you’ll see exactly which MBA programs consistently make the Top 10. When it comes to satisfaction, few schools match up with Duke University’s Fuqua School.

Mind you, Fuqua didn’t rank first in any category. Aside from the Darden School, Fuqua notched more Top 10 marks than any other business school. Classroom Experience and Faculty Quality? 5th and 10th. Campus Environment – 4th. The school’s administration ranked 6th and the campus’ Family Friendliness scored 9th. Career Prospects made 6th, while Admissions Toughness came in at 9th. In terms of academics, Fuqua’s Consulting and Management programming finished Top 10 too.

What makes the difference? Fuqua MBAs want to be in Durham, at Fuqua, and among their peers in the Fox Center. They know exactly what they are getting into for two years. They’ve have already bought into the philosophy. They want to live it and they want to preserve it. By it, they mean Team Fuqua.

Hardly a slogan or marketing gimmick, Team Fuqua is very, very real. It is a way of thinking and acting, an aspiration and an identity, a commitment to their classmates that they will show up and bring out the best in each other everysingleday. Technically, there is no real definition of Team Fuqua, says Audrey Dotson, a second-year MBA. It means different things to different people. Instead, it is something that students witness – and they know it when they see it.

“Team Fuqua is the idea that Fuquans, whether current students or alums, are all on the same team and when one of us succeeds, we all succeed,” Dotson adds. “The sense of camaraderie and ambition, rather than competitiveness, is what makes this community so special and its one I’m proud to be a part of.”

The Paired Principles are the closest you’ll get to decoding Team Fuqua – and why students are so upbeat about the program. Call it the DNA of the program – a set of values that hold classmates accountable to each other. They include Authentic Engagement, Supportive Ambition, Collective Diversity, Impactful Stewardship, Loyal Community, and Uncompromising Integrity. Impactful Stewardship, for example, is a call to use one’s talents for the greater good in communities large and small. This principle personifies what Gabrielle House strives to do.

“Personally, I feel responsible for using the opportunities, experiences, and resources I have to lift and love the people around me,” explains the Fuqua first-year. “From volunteering and mentoring youth in my community to being a good aunt to my five nieces and nephews, nurturing others really fills my cup.”

Daytime MBA Finance Club meeting in Geneen Auditorium at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in Durham, North Carolina, Wednesday, October 12, 2022 (Justin Cook for Audubon)

How does Team Fuqua find MBAs like Dotson and House? In true business school fashion, they rely on a formula. Dean Bill Boulding refers to it as “triple-threat leadership” – or a combination of IQ, EQ, and DQ.

“Many people are familiar with IQ, or intellectual capability, and EQ, emotional intelligence,” explains Russ Morgan senior associate dean for full-time programs, in a 2023 interview with P&Q. “But DQ, or decency quotient, means someone genuinely wants to do right by others. We believe this type of leadership is essential and a winning business strategy, as people will give leaders their best if they truly believe that person has his or her interest at heart. We not only look for students who possess the triple-threat capability in our admission process, but every part of our curriculum helps aid the development of these qualities. It’s why recruiters tell us again and again that our graduates can bring out the best in their teams and harness the power of diversity to truly innovate.”

The school has certainly doubled down on diversity. International students, hailing from 51 countries, accounted for 47% of the fall MBA class. Women made up a 45% share of the class, while underrepresented minority students held 27% of the class seats. That doesn’t count the 18% who fit under the first-generation student category. As much as Team Fuqua is held together by unifying paired principles, differences produce a dynamic where wider perspectives can break down the intricacies of complex problems and ultimately result in more holistic solutions. More than that, differences simulate the world that MBAs will re-enter, where shared purpose connect people far more than shared backgrounds.

“A winning business strategy,” says Dean Boulding, “[is] the ability to build and lead diverse teams where everyone feels included and empowered to be their authentic selves leads to higher performance and creates greater wealth for a company and, ultimately, society.”

That impulse to build bridges extends into Fuqua’s recent innovations in programming. Among the first schools to study CEO activism, the school eventually channeled its passion for business and politics to The Dialogue Project, which seeks to reduce social polarization and division. The faculty’s commitment to fighting climate change ultimately led to the school’s acclaimed Center for Energy, Development, and Global Environment (EDGE). A partnership with legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski produced the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics (COLE) – further reinforcing the school’s reputation as a ‘Leadership Lab.’ To further expose students to the most urgent and relevant business topics, Fuqua has further innovated by recently rolling out elective ‘short courses’.

“The short courses allow our students to go deep on a topic in a matter of weeks, rather than a full term,” Russ Morgan notes. “The shorter format also enables our faculty to quickly develop courses around the most relevant issues facing business today. For example, we have a short course on sustainable operations. I expect we will see more short courses this academic year. This will allow our students to tailor their experiences even more to their interests, adding to an already wide range of electives we offer.”

Alas, teams are temporary, an endless struggle to focus on the mission and live the principles that produced their success. This year, the school is slated to replace Dean Boulding, who has led the program since 2011. With a distinctive culture, renowned faculty, and spiffy facilities, the new dean will be walking into an ideal situation. As any business professor will tell you, it’s often easier to build than maintain. Who will Fuqua choose to fill Boulding’s shoes – and how will he or she rouse the Team Fuqua spirit? That journey will undoubtedly be worth a case study – and something to watch in the coming years.

Next Page: Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

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