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What Makes Cornell Johnson’s MBA One of a Kind?

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U.S. News and World Report ranks Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management the #15 Best Business School in the U.S. while the Financial Times and The Economist rank the school as #17 in the world, and Forbes ranks the school #10. Cornell Johnson was able achieve such high rankings due to its expert professors, hands-on immersions, and team-focused approach.

The school offers multiple MBA program options including a:

  • Two-Year MBA: This 21-month program is located in Ithaca, NY and begins each August, offering students a chance to develop a broad and deep understanding of leadership and management.
  • One-Year MBA: This intense 12-month program builds on a student’s advanced academic and professional experience to develop new business skills and knowledge for the future.
  • Tech MBA: This 12-month MBA program was re-engineered specifically for students interested in advanced business education in regard to technology.

    Judi Byers, the Executive Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at Johnson Cornell

What makes Cornell Johnson unique among MBA programs? We talked to Judi Byers, the Executive Director of Admissions & Financial Aid, to find out more. 

1. What sets your campus culture apart from others? What type of MBA applicants would best be suited to your culture?

First and foremost is Cornell University’s founding principle of “… any person … any study,” which can be found in many facets of the educational experience. It illustrates our underlying objective of educating, training, and preparing our students to lead with ambition and impact. The idea of “…any person” means that individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds—regardless of income, race, religion, and gender—can attend Cornell University. While, “…any study” refers to the choice our students have to pursue academic interests wherever they lead.

Johnson students are ambitious, impact-focused individuals who share a sense of compassion and a willingness to be of service to others, give back, and “pay it forward.”

Applicants best suited for our culture are team-oriented individuals who both value and thrive in highly collaborative communities and also understand and appreciate the advantages to studying in a city like Ithaca. Our location gives students a very intentional opportunity to focus their time and attention on their own personal growth as well as the relationships they develop with their peers, faculty, and program administrators. Many MBAs enter into programs seeking transformative growth, and the type of growth that our students and alumni talk about as being distinctive to their Cornell experience and time in Ithaca.

2. What are the top industries your MBA graduates enter, and how does your program work to develop relationships in those industries for the best career opportunities?

Using our graduating Two Year Class of 2017 figures, our top industries include finance (of which nearly 50% pursued investment banking specifically), consulting, and general management.

Our strengths in these areas are a function of an integrated career management program to include our immersions, career work groups led by successful second year MBA students, JPrep programs which introduce first-year students to ideas and trends in various industries, and one-to-one advising with professional career development staff, all of whom have prior industry experience.

Additionally, student clubs and organizations like Old Ezra, the Consulting Club, and General Management Association provide access to educational and professional development opportunities in these fields. Johnson’s BR Consulting, a student-run organization, offers strategic consulting services and practical solutions to real clients in markets, offering yet another opportunity for students to gain real world consulting experience.

3. What geographies do most of the MBA’s who enter your program come from?

On average, about a third of our entering class join us from one of 40 unique countries around the world. Each year, the team and I look to further Johnson’s global footprint by attracting and enrolling students from less represented countries and regions in the world. For example, in our Class of 2020, we welcomed students from Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Indonesia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Nepal, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Domestically, students join us from the North East and Mid-Atlantic followed by the West Coast and a growing representation from the South.

4. In regards to the student experience, what sets your program apart?

Aside from the people (students, alumni, faculty, and staff) who are amazing, I’ll focus on two aspects of the program and experience: our immersions and leadership programs.

Johnson’s Immersion program is effectively a practicum that offers an intense, hands-on semester of integrated course and fieldwork in a specific industry or career interest. Immersions take place during the spring semester of the first year and provide students with early exposure to the knowledge and problem-solving skills they need to thrive in their summer internships. As a result, Johnson MBAs are well prepared, have great confidence in their knowledge of material and ability to add value to the organizations they are supporting, and often receive offers to return to their sponsoring firms following graduation.

At Johnson, we train leaders to have Competence, Character, Compassion, and Courage – it’s what we refer to as our 4C’s Leadership Framework. Our Leadership Programs offer students a continuous, reinforcing cycle of instruction, experience, and review to include required coursework and leadership workshops, as well as hands-on experiences like our Leading Teams Practicum, Johnson Outdoor Experience, Leadership Expeditions, and Johnson Leadership Fellows and Johnson Board Fellows programs. Throughout each experience, students are both encouraged and required to reflect and also seek and give feedback so that they develop a greater understanding of their own areas of strength and opportunities for further development. Additionally, our Park Leadership Fellows Program is a two-year full-tuition fellowship award for up to 25 full-time Johnson MBA candidates who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership—ambition as well as humility, passion as well as intellect, and achievement as well as service.

Cornell Johnson wasn’t the only school to answer these questions. If you’d like to see what the admissions teams at Berkeley Haas, Duke Fuqua, Michigan Ross, NYU Stern, UVA Darden, and Yale SOM had to say, head here.