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Unique Business Programs in the US

Posted on September 16th, 2014 by Jenny Frankel

business man start 478941297With a field as broad and general as business, all programs can begin to look the same. Although universities across the country aim to make their program stand out, the consistencies of the standard business fields limit opportunities to stand out. However, there are some unique business programs hidden among American colleges and universities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Here are just three to consider.

Commerce at the University of Virginia

The University of Virginia, a public suburban university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, is historically rooted in the liberal arts ideals of its founder, Thomas Jefferson. Thus, the undergraduate program in the McIntire School of Commerce places a heavy emphasis on liberal arts education before it even begins the business aspect of the degree. In fact, students don’t even pick their concentration (accounting, finance, information technology, management, or marketing) until late in their junior year. The McIntire School believes that integrating liberal arts with economics is absolutely necessary in order to really and fully understand the global marketplace. You can think of this undergraduate program as holistic in its approach to international business.

The program emphasizes real-world business activity by engaging with actual international corporations on live projects, an experience usually limited to graduate business programs. By learning about global commerce in this way, students gain insight from multiple viable angles. Also, students are strongly encouraged to participate in some form of international study. As far as unique business programs go, UVA’s may not seem that far afield, but its intense focus on the liberal arts foundation is quite exceptional.

World Bachelor’s in Business at the University of Southern California

Sunny Los Angeles is home to the University of Southern California, a sprawling urban university with over 17,000 undergraduates. USC truly features the big time American college experience with hundreds of academic, social, athletic, and other opportunities. Tucked within the Marshall School of Business lies one of the truly unique business programs in the US: the World Bachelor in Business (WBB) program.

The WBB program focuses on world business and communication by placing students on three continents in four years to learn from a variety of international scholars and local business practices. Students begin in Los Angeles at USC learning the business of technology and entertainment. Students then study for a year at The Hong Kong University of Science in Technology, where they focus on the global banking industry. In their third year, students live in Milan, Italy and study the economic complexities of the European Union at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi. Finally, in their senior year students in the WBB program choose which of the three locales in which they’ll complete their study.

Though English is the main language of the program, students will learn the various languages of business in all three locations. Ultimately, students will earn a bachelor’s degree from each of the three partnered institutions.

Acton MBA in Entrepreneurship at Hardin-Simmons University

If you spend your college search looking only at the big lists of the top schools to study business, you might miss out on another one of the more unique business programs in the US, the Acton MBA in Entrepreneurship at Hardin-Simmons University.

Hidden away in the small city of Abilene, Texas, the Baptist-affiliated Hardin-Simmons University is a small private university with around 2,000 undergraduates and 500 graduate students. Within HSU’s Kelley College of Business, the university partners with the Acton MBA program to create a graduate level business education that focuses almost entirely on entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship and all other aspects of starting and running a business are put front and center from day one. All teachers within the program are successful entrepreneurs who offer real-world experience and cut what they see as excess from the curriculum. The Acton MBA program is very direct and honest about its feelings toward traditional graduate business programs. Instead of a well-rounded approach, the Acton MBA program gets straight to the point in its coursework, addressing real-world challenges as case studies. In line with its rigor, the program only accepts full-time students and offers no online courses. The Acton MBA program claims to teach students how to make money while living a life of meaning, informed by a personal philosophy that’s grounded in fundamental beliefs about integrity, responsibility, and liberty.

Each of these three business programs, and many others, stand apart from the mainstream in their own way. The UVA and the HSU programs may be polar opposites in terms of their curricular focus, but each has its own appeal depending on what you’re looking for. The moral of the story is to not limit yourself to the standard list of business schools and to take time seeking out the best match for you and for your intended career.

Get more information on business programs in the US here.

Written by Jenny Frankel

Jennifer is the Director of Financial Services at Envisage International. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Florida where she holds a Masters in International Business and a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. She has lived and worked abroad in Chile, Costa Rica and London, and traveled extensively in South America, Europe and Asia.

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