10 Business Schools To Watch In 2024

“Partio,” or party on the patio, is a venerated Rice Business tradition. Whether it’s an international partio to celebrate the different cultures in our community or a family partio where you can introduce your littles and loved ones to your Rice Business family, partios are our favorite way to unwind and get to know each other better. Photo Cred: Jones Graduate School of Business

Rice University, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

Success…It’s a great problem to have!

That’s what Dean Peter Rodriguez is facing now.  The word is getting out about Rice University’s Jones Graduate School. This interest has forced the school to make a choice: Do we double-down on our current model – or do we scale up to accommodate more people.

Chances are, you know the path they chose.

For one, the school expanded beyond the graduate business space. In 2021, Jones launched an undergraduate business program. Once Rice’s most popular minor, the undergraduate business program offers concentrations in Finance and Management through a 20-course roster. Let’s just say it has been a success. All you need to know is that a remarkable 25% of the incoming freshmen last fall at Rice declared their intent to major in business. Notably, the school plans to break ground this year on a 110,000 square-foot addition to McNair Hall – which is already 160,000 square feet!

There was a reason why Jones Graduate School had the confidence to open an undergraduate program. In 2018, it had started an online MBA program. Now home to over 300 students, the MBA@Jones ranks as the 6th-best online MBA program in the world according to Poets&Quants. Notably, it rated as the 2nd-best online MBA program for Career Impact, a mix of hard data and survey responses involving promotions, networking, career services, and career goals. What could Jones do for an encore in the online space? Last January, the school announced the start of a new Hybrid MBA program that would begin over the summer.

Call it a happy medium between MBA@Jones and the school’s executive MBA program –  which ranked 18th in P&Q’s latest EMBA ranking. Instead of meeting every other weekend like the executive students or spending most of the program in front of computers like online candidates, Rice Hybrids MBAs head to campus just once a month for 2-3 days on a weekend. In addition, Rice Jones will hold three, week-long immersions on campus over the 22-month program. The rest of the program involves live (asynchronous) and recorded (synchronous) courses. In many ways, the Hybrid MBA is a win-win for the school and students alike. Dean Rodriguez noted that it enables Rice Jones to draw working professionals from the Dallas and Austin markets who may only have one weekend free to travel for coursework. At the same time, he adds, the school can better deliver content like Leadership, which he says is better taught fully in-person.

“We can deliver this program on weekends we already have other MBA formats,” he adds, “so we can increase our elective offerings to all other groups.”

Yes, Rice Jones may be in growth mode, but it hasn’t exactly ignored its flagship full-time MBA program. In 2023, the school’s rankings improved seemingly across the board. In the 2023-2024 Poets&Quants Ranking, Jones jumped from 29th to 18th. That doesn’t count improvements with U.S. News (27th to 24th), The Financial Times (28th to 17th among American programs), and Bloomberg Businessweek (29th to 19th). When it came to the current student and recent alumni survey conducted by The Princeton Review in 2023, Jones ranked among the ten-best for Classroom Experience, Career Prospects and Resources for Women – and Top 5 for its Consulting and Finance curriculum. Still, the program’s highest ranking came in an area that is considered to be its signature: Entrepreneurship.

Rice Business’ home is in the center of the beautiful 300-acre tree-lined campus of Rice University. McNair Hall is fit with an expansive patio for studying, lunch breaks or an afternoon Partio. Before or after class, you can make your way to the Rice Loop, a three-mile long trail surrounding the campus, for a shaded stroll or jog. Photo Cred: Jones Graduate School of Business

This fall, Rice Jones climbed from 7th to 3rd in Poets&Quants‘ annual Entrepreneurship ranking. How popular is entrepreneurship in McNair Hall? 100% of faculty is involved in Entrepreneurship according to research conducted by P&Q in 2023. Among students, 73% took an Entrepreneurship-themed elective and 72% completed Entrepreneurship projects. Even more, 9% of Jones MBAs from 2018-2022 joined startups, with 5.6% launching one within three months of graduation.

“We’re not just about the theory of entrepreneurship, but it’s entrepreneurship applied in real-time,” says Kyle Judah, the executive director of the Liu Lab, in a 2022 interview with P&Q. Entrepreneurship is a contact sport. You can’t learn about it just by viewing it from the sidelines. You’ve got to get your hands dirty and learn by doing.”

Jones certainly invests heavily in Entrepreneurship. Startup and Innovation courses account for 29% of the school’s electives. Globally, the school budgets the highest startup funding at $9,217 per student. In addition, Jones ranks first for the ratio of mentor-to-student hours in Entrepreneurship at 22.9 hours. The school is also home to the Lillie Lab, which has produced over 300 startups since 2015. The lab provides student entrepreneurs with everything from coursework to funding to competitions – plus access to potential investors and mentors in the Houston startup ecosystem. University-wide, MBAs can also take advantage of the OwlSpark Accelerator or compete in the annual Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC). Held in the spring, the competition showers winning ventures with over a million in funding. Over the past two decades, competitors have gone on to raise nearly $5.6 billion dollars and create over 5,500 jobs.

“The entrepreneurship culture is a central element of our identity, explains Jessica Krom, director of staff administration, in a 2023 Q&A with P&Q. “A lot of applicants tell us they first learned about Rice because of our No. 1 ranking in entrepreneurship [in The Princeton Review]. As we grow this ecosystem at the school and university level, so does Houston. At Rice, we have the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which has courses for MBAs like New Enterprises and Financing the Startup Venture. But they also have programming and mentoring for all Rice students, alums and even faculty. We also have the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which hosts the largest and richest graduate business plan competition. The university recently appointed VP of Innovation, which shows how we value the entrepreneurial mindset.”

The location doesn’t hurt either, as Houston is home to 26 Fortune 500 companies – third only to New York City and Chicago. Even more, it is the energy capital of the world, boasting over 4,700 energy companies in every imaginable sector: oil, solar, wind, battery – and many more! That translates to valuable projects for students and jobs for graduates. More than that, Houston is a great place to live. There are nearly 150 languages spoken in the metro area. In fact, second-year Aquib S. Yacoob describes Houston as “what the U.S. population will look like in 2050.” Yacoobs’ classmate, Ryan Flick, echoes his sentiments.

“You can get over 15 varieties of cuisine within a one-block walk to Rice Village. There’s an entire underground (literally) retail ecosystem downtown that spans 95 blocks and connects businesses, restaurants and hotels if you want to stay out of the heat – and the city offers plenty of green space and fresh air. As great as these attractions are though, it’s the truly diverse population in Houston that makes the city great! Houston is a welcoming city that combines southern hospitality with uncommon cultural diversity for a truly unique experience on-campus and downtown. There is something here for everyone.”

Smack in the middle of a city of the future? That’s just one more reason to watch Rice Jones – a popular program in the middle growth spurt. Have to wonder what’s next up their sleeve.

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