The Rice Business MBA: What You Need To Know
Rice University is nestled in the heart of Houston — one of Texas’ most vibrant cities — as well as a food and entertainment hub. Some of the best-kept secrets about Rice Business have to do with its hometown. An international cuisine destination and entertainment hub, Houston is also the country’s fourth largest city with one of the youngest, fastest growing and most diverse populations. This year, the B-school ranked No. 24 in the Poets&Quants rankings.
Rice is growing rapidly. The B-school recently expanded their online MBA program, launched an undergrad business major, and increased their faculty numbers by 30%. Rice’s enrollment has nearly doubled in the past five years — with around 178 students for the Class of 2023 in the full-time two-year MBA program fostering tight-knit relationships where students will find themselves on a first-name basis with not only classmates, but professors as well.
What does two years in the full-time MBA program at Rice Business look like? All of Rice’s MBA offerings have a rigorous STEM-certified curriculum and are nimble enough to adapt to market needs and student interest.
“My favorite aspect of the program is the ability for students to customize and be the ‘CEO’ of their education,” says George Andrews, associate dean of degree programs. “They start their first year with the custom core, then the entire second year of the full-time program is made up of electives. There were 146 to choose from this year. That translates to 50% of the full-time MBA being tailored by the students themselves so they can focus on exactly what they want. For example, students can choose an elective to fit their entrepreneurial goals, whether they’re starting a business from scratch, thinking of buying an established business or planning the next stage of growth for their startup.”
Business school is more than in-class academics. Among a sea of electives is an abundance of experiential offerings, all interwoven with entrepreneurial thinking. Faculty and students think about how real-world companies, problems and data can be incorporated into the classroom case studies and creatively work on solutions together. This emphasis on experiential learning allows students to enhance their knowledge and skills and deepens their understanding of the business world.
Students hone their strategic problem-solving with experiences such as the Action Learning Project (ALP), a 13-week, team-based consulting project, where student teams tackle a company’s challenges and provide detailed, actionable recommendations. Rice offers similar programs with their other MBA programs.
“They’re working with real companies,” Andrews says. “Most often they’re actually not-for-profits, because these are really big, sticky issues that these firms are having, and they get to go in and work on those issues — whether it’s, ‘We want to go to Colombia and start a business there,’ or ‘We want to have a new branch in another part of the country.’”
Another opportunity for experiential learning comes during the global field experience, built into the core curriculum. As part of the school’s philosophy of adopting a global perspective, students travel abroad with their cohort, take what they learn in the first year of the program, and apply it to short-term projects for organizations and communities in diverse cultural settings, designed to change their perception of the world and how to do business. Besides Harvard Business School and a few others, Rice Business is the only top B-school that requires every student to go abroad during their two years in the MBA program.
Students can study abroad for a semester or attend seminars at partner universities IPADE (Mexico City), INCAE (Costa Rica) and WHU (Germany).
Rice Business’s Career Development Office works hard each year to help students secure their required summer internship. An impressive 100% of the Class of 2022 secured internships or equivalent MBA-level work experience for the third year in a row. Outside of the required curriculum, students also often participate in co-curricular activities such as conferences, student-led competitions, and interactive labs.
“We have a ton of study-abroad opportunities,” Andrews says, citing upcoming trips to Mexico City, Mexico, and São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “We’re kind of going all over the place,” he adds, saying there is a focus on staying in the Central time zone, meaning Latin America gets special attention.
So, what does the ideal applicant for the Rice Business MBA look like? The B-School places importance on bringing in candidates with diverse perspectives. To better encapsulate their personality and get to know them through a stronger channel, Rice gives prospective students the opportunity to submit creative essays via video instead of a traditional written essay.
“We try to find people who want to make a disproportionate impact in society,” says Andrews. “We want somebody who realizes that they’re going to be able to put their degree to use. What we look for is that they really have proven in their past that they like to make an impact in whatever they’re doing. And we want to be confident they’re going to continue to do that.”
Rice Business alumni reach incredible heights of success and have a 0.32 debt-to-income ratio two years after graduation, one of the top 10 lowest ratios among business schools.
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