Undergraduate business programmes in the US fall into two categories – direct or deferred application. In the latter category, you are first admitted to the college as a freshman and then later admitted – by application – to the business programme for your final two years.
Before you shortlist colleges, it is important to understand the different entry pathways to study business at the undergraduate level:
1) Direct admission:
As the name suggests, direct admission allows you to apply to a college and its business school simultaneously. Colleges that offer this include the University of Michigan, New York University and The University of Pennsylvania. At these universities (and many others), as a freshman, you will be admitted to the Ross School of Business, the Stern School of Business or The Wharton School respectively, and have access to the business network, career services, scholarships and business courses from your first year.
Direct admission is highly competitive and the acceptance rate for business programmes is usually much lower than at the university overall. For example, New York University has an acceptance rate of 20 percent, while its Stern School of Business has an acceptance rate of only eight percent. If you do not receive direct admission, you may be admitted to another college within the university. Typically, for these programmes, transferring into the business school later is very difficult or not allowed. So if you are not admitted to one of these colleges as a freshman business major, you may want to look at another university that guarantees your preferred course of study.
2) Two-plus-two admission:
Universities such as Emory University, the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University do not admit entering freshmen into their business schools. At institutions such as these, you will first need to apply to Emory University or its Oxford College, for instance, complete a set number of credit hours and pre-requisite courses in the first two years and only then apply to the Goizueta Business School for entry in your junior (third) year. This application process is as rigorous as the one you underwent as a first-year applicant. If you are unsuccessful, then you can continue studying at the College of Arts and Sciences and major in subjects such as economics and math and possibly take business courses as electives.
3) Hybrid applications:
Finally, at some schools, such as the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Bloomington, both the direct and deferred entry options are available. If you apply by the early deadline, which is November 1, you can be admitted directly to the business school. If you apply by the regular deadline of December 31, then you will be admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences and will have to transfer to the business school later, for which you will have to maintain a strong GPA and complete a minimum of 30 hours of college coursework, among other requirements.
Before applying to any business programme, you should research the specific admission policies. If you are sure that you want to study business, you might want to consider applying to the direct entry programmes and avoid the risk of applying later. This will ensure that you can study what you want. However, if you have varied interests and want to explore them before committing to the business school after two years (and take the risk that you might not get in), you can look at colleges that offer two-plus-two admission.
Minoring in business:
For those interested in studying other subjects, a minor in business studies will provide you with the core knowledge and quantitative skills to contribute to the business environment later in life. For example, if you are a journalism major, a minor in business will demonstrate that you understand the operations of an organisation and possibly give you an edge over other job applicants. A minor in business studies is offered by most colleges that offer business majors. Note that many colleges in the US offer neither business majors nor minors to undergraduates and instead reserve business studies only for postgraduates. Examples of these include top colleges such as Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University and the University of California Los Angeles.
If you are unsure about studying business at the undergraduate level, you can always apply for an MBA after some work experience or even consider a deferred MBA programme. For undergraduate applications, you need to familiarise yourself with the common application form and start your college research now! If you require further assistance, get in touch with us.