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Rutgers Business School: Community Oriented and Career Focused

Rutgers Business School claims many firsts in the world of business education. In 1950, it was the first to offer a master of accounting, and in the early 1970s, it was the first to offer a course that had students working on consulting projects for real companies, a practice that has been imitated by many schools since.

More recently, in 2014, RBS became the first business school to have more women students in the full-time MBA program than men, says Sharon Lydon, associate dean and executive director of MBA Programs at Rutgers Business School. This is significant because most business schools -- even top-tier ones -- are fighting to get more women candidates, who notoriously reject graduate business school in favor of other programs that better conform to their personal and professional needs.

Born in 1929, Rutgers Business School was originally called the Seth Boyden School of Business and students could earn one degree, a bachelor of science in business administration, according to the school's website. By 1934, the school's name changed to the School of Business Administration when it became part of the University of Newark. In the 1940s, it earned AACSB accreditation, which it has held ever since, and eventually was folded into Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Rutgers launched its master's of business administration in 1950, and grad students quickly began to outnumber undergrads. Soon, the school dropped the bachelor's altogether (although in the 1960s, it became possible to earn that degree in the liberal arts school). By the 1980s, the school offered an EMBA and reintroduced the undergraduate degree.

"Today, Rutgers Business School has an international reputation for teaching and research excellence," according to the site. "The school is educating more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students per academic year -- and growing -- at two main campuses in New Jersey as well as five satellite locations in New Jersey and Singapore."

Rutgers Full-Time MBA Program

The flagship for the school, the full-time MBA program boasts the class size of a small school, with 30 to 50 students taking a given course at one time, and the network of a large school, with 300,000 grads from the greater university and 30,000 and counting from RBS.

"What separates our business school from others is the community of people willing to go above and beyond to help each other," says Lydon.

A recently expanded co-hort system encourages students to work in teams. As vice president of the RBS student government, Bryan Wagner says he was pleased with the school's decision to take student feedback to heart and make the co-horts work together for the entire first year as opposed to only the first semester. This system, he adds, is more in line with the school's unified spirit.

The Right Fit for RBS

Indeed, the admissions committee is looking for team players when it seeks out new class members each year. "A student who is willing to roll up his sleeves and do the hard work necessary to complete the program," says Lydon. "Our alumni can hit the ground running and have that can-do attitude that sets them apart from others. They have no sense of entitlement, no attitude."

Applications are similar to those at other programs. You'll offer up standardized test scores from either the GMAT or GRE, recommendation letters, an application fee, official transcripts, a test of English as a foreign language (TOEFL) for international applicants, resume, and application essay.

Once accepted and enrolled, students can expect a curriculum that features the usual core courses in subjects such as finance and marketing. What is exceptional about Rutgers, says Lydon, is its specialty areas -- namely supply chain management, global business, pharmaceutical management, and marketing research insights and analytics.

In fact, Wagner says he found the school most attractive because of its highly ranked supply chain concentration, of which he is a part now. Rutgers applies the case study method to its courses and tries to give students an understanding of the application of theory in real world business situations. There are courses that have students gaining first-hand experience with actual clients who can use their help. This is not a program being taught in a bubble, adds Lydon. For example, Farrokh Langdana, professor of macroeconomics, uses the Wall Street Journal as a textbook to ensure students stay on the cutting edge of business.

"I see students transform from orientation to graduation," says Lydon.

After four years in the workforce -- two in consulting and two in operations management -- Wagner wanted to take his engineering background and work experience and combine them with leadership skills. Getting personalized attention in class and while career planning were also draws, he adds.

Career Progression

Still, what has really impressed him, Wagner says, is career services. Beginning in orientation, students get help with resume writing, elevator pitches, and mock interviews. They are required to take a course in career management that has them participating in mock case interviews, building their online brand, and developing networking skills in a hands-on way. For example, students might learn how to enter and exit conversations at a networking event. Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked RBS seventh in employment outcome.

One of the school's strength's, says Lydon, is maximizing its central location, where students have access to businesses in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York City. Alumni regularly visit to be part of presentations, informational interviews, and the like, she adds. Rutgers Business Connect, an online platform similar to LinkedIn, gives community members the chance to identify others with similar career goals or in jobs and companies they find appealing.

Diane Hanna, a young engineer currently enrolled in the Rutgers Flex MBA program, has experienced this connectivity firsthand. "The great thing about the program is you could be sitting in class next to a President or VP of a major company," she says. "I have forged relationships with colleagues that will continue long after graduation. These relationships have greatly expanded my network, helping me grow personally and professionally."

Flexibility for Busy Professionals

The core courses, or first 30 credits, are accessible online. This means you can complete that portion of the program in a more convenient way. While full-time students rarely take advantage of this, part-time students, who are juggling family, work, and school, often find it helpful, says Lydon.

Part-time MBA students can take up to 18 credits at a time and create a schedule that fits into their busy life. There are also satellite schools in Jersey City and Morristown to make it easier for students to get to their classes on time. And U.S. News & World Report ranks RBS among the top 40 for its part-time program.

"At the time of application, I was traveling a lot for work," says Hanna, who is pursuing a dual concentration in marketing and strategy and leadership. "Rutgers had the flex program offering night and weekend classes which allowed me to pursue a degree without disrupting my work schedule."

Whether you pick part-time or full-time, the program stands out for its community members, say students and faculty. "Rutgers is great for any student looking to truly make a difference in his career and grow personally and professionally," notes Wagner, who expects to graduate in May. "It's very much about being a name and not a number here at Rutgers."

In addition, Rutgers offers specialty coursework that other MBA programs don't have, and its diverse student body and central location attract students -- not to mention more women, so far, than other b-schools.