Bigger than business: The best graduate degrees to create impact

Florida Gulf Coast University
Source: Florida Gulf Coast University

The business graduate in 2024 and beyond has a critical to-do list. A changing world with a changing climate and the highest inequality since World War Two has lots of problems that could be solved with a high-skilled executive’s vision and focus on the bottom line. A graduate degree from the right school can nurture you to become one — that is, someone who not only makes a profit but also makes a difference in the lives of people and the planet.

As your knowledge and skills grow, so will your career prospects. The best business degrees ensure this, as seen in how they’ve galvanised scores of graduates to do and achieve more. For instance, in 2021, the average starting salary for MBAs was between 22% and 40% higher than for bachelor graduates. It is also reported that 79% of graduate business alumni strongly agree that their degree increased their earning potential. 

Want to make a difference in the world and in your future? Here are four business schools to consider: 

Florida Gulf Coast University

At the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) professional development is the number one aim. The school has strong community/employer relationships through their Lutgert Mentorship Program, which facilitates meaningful connections between students and industry leaders. This allows an exchange of ideas, advice and knowledge between mentors and mentees, paving the way to success.

All programs ease your transition from the classroom to the boardroom. The MBA program gets you to apply analytical, technical and behavioural tools to solve organisational problems. Delivered in only 33 credit hours, this concise master’s degree is made more accessible as qualified applicants may be eligible to have the GMAT/GRE requirements waived. Choose from eight different concentrations that best suit your goals, such as digital marketing strategy, management/leadership, data analytics, information systems and entrepreneurship.

The Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation offers the same waivers as the MBA and is delivered in 30 to 42 credit hours (depending on previously completed accounting courses). This program ensures you have life-long learning skills to keep up in an ever-evolving job market. A concentration in Analytics is available.

For those looking to excel in leadership positions where they work to improve a business through information technology, analytics and business intelligence, the Master of Science in Information Systems and Analytics is the way to go. Delivered in 30 credit hours, students will have the option of choosing between the Information Systems or Analytics concentrations.

No matter which master’s programme you embark on, the Lutgert College of Business offers graduate assistantship opportunities which are available to qualified graduate students. In-state applicants who are approved can expect the college to pay the in-state portion of their tuition and a bi-weekly stipend for 20 hours of work per week. Approved out-of-state students who wish to have the out-of-state portion of their tuition covered will need to provide competitive GMAT scores. 

Florida Gulf Coast University

University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics is one of the top business schools in the US. Source: University of New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire: Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics

Business analytics harnesses the power of data to develop insight into business decisions and organisational questions. There’s no better place to gain that than the University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, one of the top business schools in the US

Paul College offers a suite of degree programmes that serve as the foundation of the Business Analytics Initiative: Information Systems and Business Analytics Option within the BS Business Administration Major; MBA Option and Graduate Certificate in Information Systems and Business Analytics; MS Business Analytics; BS Analytical Economics and MS Economics; and MS Finance, Financial Analytics and Fintech Track.

The MS in Business Analytics is a comprehensive programme covering the three main pillars of business analytics, including descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. It develops skills in data analysis and visualisation, predicting/forecasting future probabilities and trends, and helping leaders make decisions in resource-constrained environments.

Focusing on theory and practical applications and supported by the latest computer programming skills, the programme is taught by faculty immersed in big data research.

As it’s STEM-designated, you can apply for a 24-month OPT STEM Extension to your 12-month Optional Practical Training Program (OPT) period. This lets you work in the US for up to 36 months after graduation with no additional visa requirement.

Florida Gulf Coast University

At the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business classes are small, allowing for a more personal connection. Source: University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business is committed to growing the good in business. It does this by shaping students into future business leaders who are dedicated to personal growth, social responsibility and a moral purpose that benefits society. At Notre Dame’s historic campus, virtuous individuals with diverse interests and uncommon potential can access several programmes to make them the best persons they can be. 

The Two-Year MBA offers countless opportunities to improve your business acumen and develop your own leadership style. This programme allows students to pair one of five majors, three of which are STEM-designated, with more specific minors to tailor their education to their interests and future goals. It is so effective that 96% of the Class of 2022 accepted a full-time offer within three months. 

Classes are small, allowing for a more personal connection with classmates and one-on-one attention from career coaches and faculty (the latter carries on long after graduation). The University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business was also built on three fundamental commitments that shape its curriculum and differentiate its MBA degree programme. 

The first is integral leadership development, where future leaders are committed to personal and professional growth grounded in creating shared value. Experiential learning is key, as real-world applications give students a chance to evolve their skills and know-how to grow a business well. The final commitment is to the community, nurturing a culture of success with shared priorities, recognition of a shared purpose and mutual advancement. 

Florida Gulf Coast University

Paul Merage School of Business is reframing its curricula to offer a digital learning experience. Source: UC Irvine

UC Irvine: Paul Merage School of Business

New technologies such as augmented reality, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence are redefining many industries. To lead the disruption of today and tomorrow, Paul Merage School of Business is reframing its curricula to offer a digital learning experience. 

With its hybrid Fully Employed MBA classes and the expansion of BA undergraduate online offerings, they are changing how students take digital courses. Its digital learning team focuses on three-course design goals: intentionally minimising transactional distance, incorporating diverse opportunities for learning connections and designing active digital learning experiences. 

Every graduate student can learn from distinguished speakers. The Dean’s Thought Leadership Series features a diverse array of prominent international affairs practitioners for insightful perspectives and thought-provoking discussions on international relations, leadership, and other relevant topics that impact our focus areas — all led by the Dean of Paul Merage School of Business, Ian O. Williamson.

Such opportunities transform students into future leaders in a digitally driven world. Alum Ramin Mousavi is now making a difference as CEO of CathWorks, a startup that aims to solve a major crisis in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease, which accounts for half of the cardiovascular deaths in the country every year. 

Last year, Mousavi and his team entered a partnership with Medtronic, the largest medical device company in the world. Paying it forward, he’s now a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board and has mentored competitors in the New Venture Competition, which is run by the Beall Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International