Michigan Ross Leads Transformation of Undergraduate Business Education

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business today announced a redesigned Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) curriculum to meet the changing needs and interests of undergraduate students.

“Business is the No. 1 undergraduate degree in the country, with increasing demand. That is an enormous wave of students who will be at the forefront of societal change when they enter the job market”

Michigan Ross, one of the top-ranked BBA programs in the nation, is leading a transformation in how undergraduate business education is delivered through a new curriculum called MERGE (Multidisciplinary Exploration and Rigorous Guided Education). Centered on the Ross mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world, Ross BBAs will benefit from integrative and guided learning that challenges students to consider the fundamental role of business in society. The new BBA curriculum will launch this fall.

“Business is the No. 1 undergraduate degree in the country, with increasing demand. That is an enormous wave of students who will be at the forefront of societal change when they enter the job market,” said Alison Davis-Blake, dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “We’ve redesigned the Michigan Ross BBA program to deliver an integrative, cross-cultural, action-based education. This new curriculum is designed to best serve the learning styles and aspirations of this generation. We as educators have a responsibility to ensure that future generations understand the integral role that business plays in society and that they have the knowledge and focus to lead in a responsible way.”

Ross worked in partnership with national industry organizations including the Aspen Institute and the National Undergraduate Business Symposium to examine the future of undergraduate business education, as part of the redesign process. The school also conducted a two-year data collection and evaluation process with students, parents, faculty, and recruiters. The result is a program built on the Ross hallmarks of action-based learning, boundaryless business education, analytic rigor, and making a positive difference.

“The Michigan Ross MERGE curriculum takes into account key industry studies showing that millennials seek a more guided educational experience that is academically rigorous and involves active learning,” said Lynn Wooten, associate dean for undergraduate education at Michigan Ross. “They want to push their own boundaries within a challenging but safe environment where they can develop into emerging leaders.”

Specific new elements of the Michigan Ross BBA program include:

  • A focus on the role of business in society – A new required course, “Businesses and Leaders: The Positive Difference,” orients BBA students around the concept that business can make a positive impact and help solve the world’s toughest challenges. Students will study concepts from multiple perspectives to learn the relationships between the corporate, public and nonprofit sectors.
  • Action-based learning – Ross, a pioneer in action-based learning for MBA students, is among the first to integrate active learning throughout the undergraduate curriculum. BBAs will have greater opportunities to apply classroom lessons to real-world experiences within companies and organizations.
  • Integrative learning – An integrative learning approach featuring a core group of cases throughout a variety of courses and subjects will give students functional knowledge from multiple perspectives and develop their ability to make theoretical linkages for applied integration.
  • Capstone experiences – Completed in the final semester of senior year, capstone courses incorporate and synthesize everything students have learned. Students have the option to select experiences that put their entire Ross education into practice; that focus on actively preparing them for work and life after college; or that are research-based, for those who seek graduate studies.
  • International experiences – BBAs will gain more cultural intelligence through study abroad during the junior year; and through other options like the Carson Scholars residential program in Washington, D.C., and business treks, which allow students to immerse themselves in and learn from business cultures around the U.S. and the world.

Undergraduate business education is seeing rising demand. Michigan Ross applications more than doubled in the past four years, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business reports a nearly 15 percent increase in applications from 2008-09 to 2012-13. This surge in interest can be attributed to a new generation of students who are career savvy at an earlier age, assessing far in advance what they will do with their education when they graduate.

The Michigan Ross BBA program is one of the most prestigious undergraduate business programs in the country. In this highly selective, three-year program, students start at Ross in their sophomore year. Courses, career advising, leadership development, and student life activities combine multiple approaches, perspectives, and resources to deliver unparalleled curricular, personal, and professional experiences. To learn more, visit www.MichiganRoss.umich.edu/.

About the Stephen M. Ross School of Business

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today’s dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.

Ross is consistently ranked among the world’s leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.

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