The Tepper MBA: What You Need To Know
Many business schools claim to bring together people from various fields to create an interdisciplinary vibe on campus, but few have gone as far as Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business to make it a reality.
In late 2018, Tepper opened an actual physical space to encourage crossover: its funky new Tepper Quad, a building that houses the Tepper school and also functions as an innovation hub for the entire campus. MBA students at Tepper can also expect to find themselves working with people from the other six schools at Carnegie Mellon, including engineers, computer scientists, and designers. CMU is renowned as a center for AI, robotics, big data, and other related disciplines, and fusing these with the business school is at the heart of its interdisciplinary approach.
Tepper is ahead of the curve in other respects, too. In addition to such traditional core courses as marketing, finance, and strategy, the Tepper MBA teaches analytics, which involves learning about subjects such as optimization and predictive modeling, in order to enhance strategic thinking and problem-solving. This is the modern evolution of the “management science” that has always underpinned a Tepper education.
Leadership and job searching are embedded in the MBA right from day one so that students are thinking about how to apply their learning while they are acquiring it. Grads often sing the praises of the school’s career services team, which holds 2,000 one-on-one coaching sessions per year. More than a hundred events by outside speakers each year ensure that students hear about cutting-edge issues and make lots of useful contacts.
MBAs can choose from five “tracks,” such as Business Analytics or Entrepreneurship, which allow them to look at a particular field in greater depth. They tend to consist of 8-10 electives and a capstone course. Some tracks involve cross-campus collaboration with faculty and other graduate students.
Also, once you take three or four electives in a subject area, you are deemed to have completed a concentration — there are 12, including Accounting, Strategy, and Organizational Behavior.
The Tepper full-time MBA has a class size of about 220, which translates into an average of 55 people in a class for core subjects and 31 for electives. Overall, the school has a healthy 8:1 student to faculty ratio. Over 40 clubs and societies help create a social glue that contributes to a supportive atmosphere.
Tepper has 16,000 alumni and 33 alumni chapters, while CMU as a whole has 94,000, dispersed across 53 global alumni chapters. Graduates often say how friendly and helpful alumni can be.
Kate Barraclough, head of the MBA program
At Tepper, we’re looking for people who have a level of curiosity, who are interested in looking at why things work the way they do: asking good questions and being thoughtful about how they think about their answers. Also, people who will roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty with some work. The Tepper curriculum is rigorous and our students are very much a group who aren’t afraid of crunching numbers and looking at data and drawing conclusions from that data. We’re looking for people who are excited about the future of business leadership and where they want to take their careers.
Victoria Lopez, MBA 2019
I studied politics and philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, then worked for a nonprofit at the university providing consulting services to startups and small businesses. I decided an MBA could bridge the gap between my education and my work experience. Tepper was a good choice for me because the quantitative aspects of the program complemented my experience.
I also wanted to get work experience and help finding a job in a larger company and the sort of industries that I was interested in. The career center helped me, and other students that I’ve talked to, to know how to brand and position themselves. I’ve got a job at Microsoft in New York in a marketing sales role.
When exploring and choosing an MBA program, the question every applicant will inevitably ask themselves is this: “What’s going to differentiate me in the market?” At Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, everything starts and ends with a dual focus on analytics and leadership.
HEART AND SOUL OF THE TEPPER MBA: LEADERSHIP AND ANALYTICS
The business school says leadership and analytics in the core curriculum are what differentiates it from other institutions and what will differentiate graduates who complete the program. While analytics is far from new and, in fact, has created a wave that’s sweeping across many of the top business schools, Tepper says its two-year curriculum is less about gathering big data and more about making big decisions. In other words, providing MBAs the wherewithal to take mounds of data and use it to drive a business forward.
“We do believe that data is important and that analytics is important, but it is important in order to make better decisions,” says Mike Trick, an associate dean at Tepper. “If all you can do is manage by the seat of your pants, you will make some good decisions, you will make some bad decisions. By looking at data and doing analysis, you can more consistently make better decisions and run better organizations.”
While “Don’t manage by the seat of your pants” is one Tepper mantra, “Most leaders are taught, not born” is another. At the core of its focus on leadership development are effective communication and interpersonal skills. MBAs at Tepper receive a customized leadership development assessment, one-to-one coaching, and their very own leadership roadmap. The roadmap is so personal, in fact, that leadership development doesn’t start with an MBA course at all. It starts with the student and a simulation tool — Manager Ready — that puts them inside real-world scenarios to test their leadership. Strengths and opportunities for improvement are identified for each student to cultivate while chasing their MBA degree.
ROOTS THAT RUN DEEP IN TECH
With this backing of analytics and leadership, Tepper MBAs fare well in the job market and are known to do particularly well in the tech industry. Katie Glass, a first-year student, can attest. Glass, who spent time as a marketing manager prior to Tepper, says she wanted an MBA to help her switch careers. In her transitional pursuit from marketing to product management — and her sights set on the tech industry — she narrowed her focus on Tepper.
“I explored several top 20 MBA programs and ultimately applied to four programs,” says Glass, who had six years of professional experience when she arrived at Tepper. “I chose Tepper because of the tight-knit community, deep connections within the tech industry, and entrepreneurial focus.”
Much of the deep connections are found right on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania campus of Carnegie Mellon where Tepper is housed. The university has a long-standing reputation for science and tech and Tepper provides open-door access for students to engage in campus-wide programs, courses, clubs, and professors.
What’s more, Fall 2018 will bring the opening of Tepper’s new home, the Tepper Quad. This innovation hub will serve to connect all seven campus colleges and enable business students to learn, engage, and collaborate with other creative minds in computer science, architecture, robotics, entrepreneurship, and more. In addition to being a state-of-the-art learning and research facility, the school says the quad will amplify the connection between technology and business education to prepare students for leadership roles within a world that’s driven by technology, big data, and analytics.
When it comes to the deep tech connections mentioned by student Katie Glass, the proof is also in the placements. In the past several years, tech has led the way as the top industry for Tepper MBA grads. From 2013 to 2017, tech has been the top industry four out of five times with repeat recruiting partners including the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google.
But 2017 was a special year as the school says it saw record-breaking success in the tech arena. Says Steve Rakas, Executive Director of Masters Career Services at the school, “Forty-three percent of the full-time MBA Class of 2017 went into tech, a new record. This has approximately doubled over the last five years, reflecting the broader market trend. Breaking it down by gender, 58% — again a new record — of women went into tech versus 37% of men which was still the highest segment for men.”
Says, Saraswati Kaul, a senior product manager at Amazon and one of the 58% of Tepper’s Class of 2017 graduating women who went into tech, “The education I received at Tepper has been instrumental for my success in my current role. The rigorous program at Tepper included a strong balance of skills spanning tech acumen, problem-solving, financial know-how and design courses that I use on a daily basis. In my role, I’m often working with both engineers and customers, and the communication skills that I learned have been extremely helpful.”
OTHER TOP INDUSTRIES AND WHAT TEPPER GRADS MAKE
The second most popular industry for job placements was consulting with 20% of the class going there and recurring recruiting partners including the big three MBB firms as well as other leading firms like A.T. Kearney, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, and KPMG. Rounding out the top three for industries was financial services with 15% of the 2017 class going there. The top recruiters for finance grads include Amazon, Deutsche Bank, Merck & Company, Google, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. According to Rakas, Tepper’s top three recruiters across all industries and functions are Amazon, Microsoft, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Not only do Tepper grads fare well in tech, consulting, and finance, but in take-home compensation as well. In the past several years, the median annual salary for Tepper MBAs has been on an incline: $113,000 in 2013 to an all-time median high of $120,000 in 2017.
Of course, to earn such salaries, MBAs are gaining more than just analytical and leadership skills from the Tepper curriculum. The first-year core focuses on the usual suspects of business fundamentals such as marketing, finance, accounting, and so on with advanced analytics and leadership coaching baked in. For Glass, this is exactly what she signed up for.
“I wanted and expected to further develop my knowledge of other business areas such as finance and operations, as well as strengthen my leadership skills,” she says. “My experience at Tepper is teaching me to be an empathetic leader, make data-driven decisions, and think big. I’ve already experienced significant personal and professional growth and expect that to continue as I put my lessons from Tepper into practice throughout my career.”
COVER MORE GROUND IN A UNIQUE ‘MINI-SEMESTER’ FORMAT
Heading into year two of her Tepper MBA experience, Glass and fellow classmates will have a chance to dive deep into areas of interest to support their individual career goals. A myriad of electives (nearly 200), concentrations (12), and tracks (seven) are available for students’ choosing.
“I am pursuing the Management of Innovation and Product Development track with concentrations in Business Technologies, Strategy, and Marketing,” says Glass.
If it sounds like she’s covering a lot of ground, that’s because she is. A unique component of the Tepper MBA program is its mini-semester format which creates four 6.5-week mini-terms per academic year, essentially doubling the number of courses that students take each semester and a given year. This format quickens the pace of discovery, the school says, and allows its MBAs to make an immediate impact in their internships and careers.
“The track, concentrations, and ability to take classes across the entire CMU campus will prepare me for my internships and post-MBA career in Product Management within the tech industry,” says Glass.
WHAT IT TAKES TO GET IN AND HOW MUCH IT COSTS
Requirements for getting into Tepper’s MBA program include GMAT or GRE exam scores, undergraduate transcripts, resume, at least one letter of recommendation, an essay, and an interview. The interview is behavioral in nature, asking candidates to share perspectives and experiential insights on teamwork, leadership, success, and failure. In Tepper’s most recent incoming class of 220 students, the incoming MBAs had an average GMAT score of 691, a 3.3 undergraduate GPA, and averaged 5.7 years of work experience. Once admitted, the cost for a Tepper MBA education will run students $66,852 a year, or $133,704 in total tuition and estimated fees.
Tepper MBA Rankings Data
Tepper MBA Employment Stats
Tepper no longer publishes in its employment report its top employers, preferring to list all of the firms that made offers to students and/or have participated in recruiting events.
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Notes: MBA Program Consideration Set: If you believe you’re a close match to this school – based on your GMAT and GPA scores, your age, and work experience – you should look at these other competitive full-time MBA programs as well. We list them by stretch, match, and safety. These options are presented on the basis of brand image and ranking status.