The Carlson School of Management MBA: What You Need To Know
The big challenge for Carlson is to overcome the perception that the school is merely a regional player in the business school sweepstakes. As new Dean Sri Zaheer puts it, “The challenge for us is really to raise our national and international profile. We want to make sure we get recognized for what we are. Our location is a blessing and a curse. We have these amazing relationships with 20 of the Fortune 500 companies that are in our backyard, but our location is a challenge because we have to change the perception that we are a local or regional school. We have alumni in 78 countries around the world and in all 50 states.”
If anyone can put this school on a world stage with other public university business schools such as the University of Michigan, UC-Berkeley, and the University of Virginia, it’s Zaheer. She was a professor at the school for 20 years before being named dean in March of 2012. A feisty advocate for the school and its students, she is passionate and tireless. And she has a good story to tell. Carlson has an intimate MBA program with an annual intake of just over 100 students divided into two cohorts that go through the core in lockstep fashion. This is a program where every MBA student knows each other as well as the faculty and staff.
The most distinctive part of the program is based on a 15-month experiential learning experience that every student must undertake. The “enterprise” experience–in one of four areas such as brand, consulting, ventures, and funds–accounts for one-sixth of an MBA’s entire workload. Students are placed on small teams managed by both a professional and academic director and put to work on real problems with local companies. Carlson MBA candidates interested in finance or investment management, for example, can help to manage a student-run mutual fund with $40 million in assets from actual clients. “We can really take someone who has been in the military and wants to become a finance person and at the end of two years they will interview just as well as someone who has been an analyst or investment banker before,” says Zaheer.
The consulting program, headed by an ex-McKinsey manager, has worked with such companies as Best Buy, Medtronic, and Northwest Airlines on projects.
Students aren’t only getting real-world experience here. They are connecting with companies that are likely to hire them once they graduate. “Firms get to know our students very well from the enterprise projects,” reasons Zaheer. “It’s phenomenal for career changers but it’s also good for career enhancers because they have the ultimate responsibility for the project work.”
A “global discovery program” is part of a second-year course that culminates in a two-week international trip every January. Each section of the class travels to a different locale around the globe. Once they return, students reconvene in the course to engage in a comparative analysis of different regions.
Carlson School of Management MBA Rankings Data
Carlson School of Management MBA Employment Stats
MBA Program Consideration Set:
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.