While San Diego may seem far more enticing than either Irvine or Davis, the truth is that UC-Irvine and UC-Davis have consistently ranked above the Rady School of Management. How come? Both Irvine and Davis take their full-time MBA programs more seriously, devoting greater resources and attention to them. It’s telling, for example, that as of early March in 2014 Rady’s website still had the profile for the class that entered in the fall of 2012, rather than 2013.
That’s largely why the UC hierarchy of business schools goes from Berkeley and UCLA to Davis and Irvine–then there’s a more considerable gap before getting to San Diego. Well, not exactly San Diego, but rather idyllic La Jolla, where the tourists vastly outnumber the businesses. The school is named for Ernest Rady, a Canadian-born investor who founded American Assets, a financial services and real estate firm in San Diego. A self-made billionaire, Rady donated $30 million to UC-San Diego in 2003.
His money helped to put the school is a rather dramatic and unique building that looks a little like the front of an ocean liner (see above). In the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively young business school. Robert S. Sullivan, who had been dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, joined Rady as its founding dean in January of 2003. He has recruited faculty from top universities such as the University of Chicago, MIT, New York University, Northwestern, Princeton, Stanford, the Wharton School and Yale.
To be sure, the school’s location allows it to attract both faculty and students who compare favorably to those at Davis and Irvine. The telltale signs of Rady’s problem show up in its salary and placement stats. In 2012, for example, only 37.8% of its freshly minted MBAs had jobs at graduation, compared to 63.4% at Davis and 54.4% at Irvine. Three months later, Rady grads fared better, with 71.1% reporting that they had jobs, but at Davis the number was 92.7% and at Irvine it was 80.0%. Rady MBAs also trailed the two other UC schools in starting salary and bonus: $77,566 vs. $98,592 at Davis and $80,809 at Irvine.
This is a tiny full-time MBA program that enrolls just slightly more than 50 students a year–with almost half of them coming from outside the U.S. The program starts with an intensive two-week preterm to prep students for the two-year core and elective curriculum. The first three terms in the first year are filled with the basics, with the exception of one elective and a professional seminar in the spring or third term. Through its course catalog of electives, you can focus on a traditional business area, such as marketing, finance, or operations, or pull together a group of courses on such things asnew product development or new venture finance.
Rady positions its full-time MBA as “an immersion in innovation, designed to inspire your vision of the future and give you the knowledge to move great ideas to the marketplace.” Required of all students is a capstone Lab to Market course sequence that allows MBA candidates to take the skills learned in the core curriculum and electives to apply them to a project of significance to the student. MBAs learn to assess which innovations are worth pursuing and to move concepts to the marketplace. The school likes to say that its Lab to Market course puts students in a real-world environment, evaluating and pursuing potential business opportunities in collaboration with a team of classmates.
The school also has evening and weekend MBA programs for working professionals as well as a recently launched one-year master’s of finance program.
Rady has done well in the rankings as of late. After not being ranked by Poets&Quants in 2012, the school came in at No. 67 in 2013. Between 2013 and 2014, the school also rose by a formidable 13 points in the U.S. News ranking, rising from No. 73 to No. 60. In the same timespan, Rady rose from 46th place to 44th place among U.S. schools in the Financial Times ranking.
Rady has not published in its employment report its top employers, preferring to list a sample of firms that hired the school’s graduates.