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Best Business Schools to Jumpstart Your Career in Tech—or Advance It

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Business Schools Sending the Largest Percentage of Their MBA Classes Into Tech 

University of Washington’s Foster School of Business

While UW’s Foster School of Business may not appear quite as high as some of the other business schools on this list in traditional rankings of MBA programs, it trumps all others in terms of the percent of students it sends into careers in technology. As astounding 52 percent of MBA graduates in the Class of 2016 took jobs in tech. Consulting was a distant second at 23 percent, and just 8 percent of the class headed into pharma/biotech/healthcare products, the third most popular industry.

best business schools for technology
UW Foster School of Business

Foster’s Seattle location is obviously an asset—spitting distance from Amazon and Microsoft headquarters, as well as an ever-increasing number of new tech startups. The school also places a premium on experiential learning, no doubt taking advantage of the Seattle tech scene to place students with companies for real-world experience.

The school’s Information Systems and Operations Management Department claims 18 professors, six lecturers, and four professors emeritus whose areas of expertise include big data, data mining, and data analytics, as well as e-commerce, information security and assurance, machine learning, and social network analytics, among many others. The school also offers a wide range of elective courses tailored to its students’ tech interests, ranging from “Software Entrepreneurship” and “Technology Commercialization” to “Web 2.0 & the New Economy” and “Business Intelligence & Data Mining.”

In terms of extracurriculars, the Foster Tech Club gathers together Foster students focused on careers in technology. Its mission is to leverage the local tech community, students with prior experience in tech, and the larger UW community to help expand tech-related educational and networking opportunities for the club’s members. The club helps organize company visits, including recent visits to Tableau Software, Zillow, and Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, as well as guest speakers and networking dinners. It also organizes an annual Tech Trek to the San Francisco Bay Area. Last year’s trek included visits for the entire group to TripIt, IDEO, RocketFuel, Google, and Facebook, as well as smaller group visits to Zynga, Pinterest, and Apple and Autodesk, Salesforce, and Zignal Laboratories.

Recent Foster grads have gone on to work at employers ranging from Amazon to Zynga with another 25 in between—including Facebook and Google, Dell, Microsoft, and IBM. Of the more than half of the class that took jobs in tech, the average starting salary was $113,241.

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

The proximity of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business to the tech industry’s Silicon Valley seat—coupled with its focus on innovation—makes it a front-runner in terms of grooming grads for technology careers. Haas leapfrogged CMU Tepper this year and landed in second place in terms of schools sending the most grads into tech. It sent 38.8 percent of the Class of 2016 into tech jobs, up from 37.8 percent last year. Here, too, consulting was a distant second, drawing just 19.1 percent of the class (down from 25 percent last year).

Unlike peer business schools, which send students on Silicon Valley treks to explore tech firms, Haas dispatches its students in 15-week stints to help those very companies tackle real business challenges. As part of the Haas@Work Applied Innovation project course, student teams have worked on site for clients including Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, PayPal, SAP, and Yahoo, to name just a few.

As part of a second experiential learning program, Cleantech to Market (C2M), Haas MBA students join teams comprised of graduate students from across Berkeley’s many schools to commercialize promising cleantech inventions selected from leading universities, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other Department of Energy labs, as well as existing startups.

best business schools for tech
UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

In addition to these unique programs, Haas students can also select technology as an area of emphasis, choosing from a wide assortment of courses including everything from high-tech marketing management to the signature Lean LaunchPad methodology pioneered by Haas Lecturer Steve Blank. And in 2015 the school launched a partnership with Accenture to develop a curriculum around big data.

With so many major tech firms within a stone’s throw, Haas also easily draws industry experts to campus for its speaker series, whose fall 2017 lineup included top executives from Cisco, Microsoft, and Intel. Nearby industry leaders also serve as guest lecturers and project advisors. And current Haas Executive Fellows include Twitter’s Biz Stone; John Hanke, whose startup, Keyhole, became the foundation for Google Earth and who now heads Niantic, creators of Pokémon Go; and the aforementioned Guy Kawasaki, former Apple evangelist and now chief evangelist of Canva.

Student clubs complement the rich technology curriculum, providing valuable networking opportunities; organizing events, conferences, and workshops; and preparing students for tech career searches. They include the Haas Technology Club, the Digital Media and Entertainment Club (DMEC), the Haas Innovation Design Club, and the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association.

As for where recent Haas grads have gone to work, almost half of the 14 firms listed as top employers—a designation given to those hiring three or more grads—were tech firms. They included Adobe, Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. The mean starting salary for the most recent crop of graduates was $122,946 with a mean signing bonus of $22,555 on top of that.