The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management is part of Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business. It was in 1946 that Cornell University, an Ivy League university, established the “School for Business and Public Administration,” offering MBA and MPA degrees. The first-year course fee was a princely sum of $200.
In 1984, Samuel Curtis Johnson, Jr., owner of SC Johnson & Son, and his family donated $20 million to the school, and it was renamed the SC Johnson Graduate School of Management in honor of SC Johnson, Sr., the founder of the company. It was at that time the biggest endowment to any business school in the world.
In 2016, the Johnson Graduate School joined two other Cornell schools—the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the Cornell School of Hotel Administration—to form the College of Business. In January 2017, the college was named the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business after it received a $150 million from Herbert Fisk Johnson of SC Johnson & Son. Read on for more facts about Johnson School, with a focus on its two-year MBA program.
The school is located in Sage Hall in Ithaca, New York, a building that was originally built as a dormitory for women students when the absence of this facility was thwarting the university’s efforts to attract and retain female students. Ithaca businessman Henry W. Sage provided $250,000 for the construction, and Sage Hall was completed in 1875.
More than a century later, between 1996 and 1998, Cornell University renovated Sage Hall at a cost of $38 million to provide a better home for the Johnson Graduate School of Management. Today, Sage Hall accommodates classrooms, student and faculty lounges, a management library, an atrium, a café, a trading floor, and a parlor. In 2015, the City of Ithaca’s Planning Board approved the construction of a six-story classroom-and-office building at Dryden Road, Ithaca, which will be the Johnson School’s new location upon completion.
A little about the city: Ithaca is home to a little over 30,000 people (2010 figure), and experiences long, cold, and snowy winters and warm and humid summers. Education, technology, and tourism are the economy’s mainstays. Ithaca, which is 362 km north of New York City, has a traditional downtown shopping center with malls and commercial centers, one of which is located close to Cornell, with bars, restaurants, many of them vegetarian-friendly, and shops. Private cars, car-shares, and buses are common modes of transport.
In the US News’ Best Business Schools 2019 (US b-schools), Johnson is ranked as the 15th best business school. In a 2017 ranking, Forbes placed Johnson as the tenth best b-school in the US. In FT’s Global MBA Ranking 2018, Johnson is the 17th best school in the world.
The Johnson Graduate School of Management faculty is headed by Dean Mark Nelson and consists of 58 full-time members and 53 adjunct, part-time, or visiting members. There are 26 endowed faculty chairs. Research centers include the Parker Center for Investment Research, the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, the Emerging Markets Institute, and the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell. The school publishes the academic journal Administrative Science Quarterly.
Cornell Johnson’s programs include the two-year full-time MBA (21 months), one-year MBA, Cornell Tech MBA (12 months), Cornell Executive MBA (Metro) (22 months), Cornell Executive MBA Americas (17 months), Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership (20 months), MPS in Management, Accounting Specialization (nine months), Cornell Tsinghua MBA/FMBA (24 months), PhD program, and dual degree and certificate programs (MBA with law, industrial/labor relations, engineering, medicine, or real estate).
The two-year MBA program focuses on imparting advanced business fundamentals in the areas of marketing, finance, human resources, and production. The program integrates classroom lectures with fieldwork to provide a high-quality immersive learning experience. The choice of electives is flexible, and is aligned to the individual student’s career plan—about 4,000 courses are available.
Dual-degree programs enable students to concentrate on their special interests. In the first year, core courses improve students’ knowledge of fundamentals, and leadership programs develop teamwork qualities. A data modeling and analysis course helps students learn about actionable insights and predictive outcomes. A summer internship completes the class and field work.
In the second year, leadership qualities are further improved through self-assessment, so that students learn to motivate teams and respond to crises. Students can customize their coursework with concentrations to pursue their special interests. Leadership electives, expeditions, skill-building workshops, and mini-courses are also part of the second-year curriculum.
Applicants who value collaboration and wish to hone their leadership skills are considered. They already have good leadership skills and are looking for career growth opportunities. Although work experience is not required, most students have completed two to five years of professional engagements. There is no minimum GMAT score, but 80 percent of students have a score range of 640-750.
The application for the two-year MBA should include the “Johnson at Cornell” application, resume, goal statement with two required essays, list of activities, one letter of professional recommendation (from a colleague, client, or direct/former supervisor), transcripts of all post-secondary coursework and degrees, GMAT / GRE score, TOEFL / IELTS score for applicants whose native language is not English, and an application fee of $200.
After a preliminary review of the application, the applicant may receive an invitation to an interview, which may be conducted by a school official or a second-year MBA student. Although an in-person interview at Ithaca is suggested, candidates can also schedule a Skype interview.
The tuition and estimated living expenses for the first year of the two-year MBA come to around $90,000 (tuition $64,000, food and housing $17,000, personal and miscellaneous expenses $5,000).
About 30 percent of Johnson students receive the school’s merit scholarships, drawn from an annual fund of $1.5 million. Scholarships are awarded without consideration of citizenship. Non-school scholarships are also available, but some effort is involved in identifying them.
A loan program is in place to help international students who have no credit burden in the US. It doesn’t require a cosigner but can be used only to pay tuition. Other loans are available in the US to cover the entire cost of study, but the applicant needs a credit-worthy or permanent resident as a cosigner.
Named scholarships based on criteria such as gender, citizenship, ethnicity, and academics are available. Students who enroll with scholarships in the first year are not eligible for them in the second year, except in the case of the Fried Fellowships, awarded to five second-year students for academic excellence. Forté Foundation Fellowships are awarded to exceptional women candidates.
The Class of 2019 of the two-year MBA program consisted of 277 students at the time of admission, 34 percent of them international students, and 27 percent women.
The average age was 28 years; 98 percent had full-time work experience (average five years). The average GMAT score was 700.
The Career Management Center staff get into action right from the start of the academic year. Career workgroups led by second-year students, prep programs on industry trends, immersions for first-hand experience of the real business world, and guidance from eight professional career advisors are part of Johnson’s career search programs.
Ninety-three percent had full-time-job offers three months after graduation; 29 percent of students went into (by function) consulting, 22 percent into general management, 17 percent into investment banking, and 11 percent into marketing.
From AT Kearney to Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard to TCS, and BCG to Whirlpool, companies from various sectors come looking for new recruits among Johnson graduates. Johnson’s alumni of 13,000 and Cornell’s alumni of 250,000 offer rich resources to other alumni and new graduates.
The mean annual base salary for the Class of 2017 amounted to $125, 578, up approximately 3.5 percent from the previous year, and the mean signing bonus was $31,604.
These figures (by function) were as follows: for consulting $134,747, $28,270; for finance $122,456, $43,164; for general management $114,601, $25,035; and legal $182,308.
The figures (by industry) for law were $182,308 and $26,667; consulting $134,069 and $28,125; financial services $124,290,and $44,643; and technology $118,000 and $26,804.
Famous Johnson alumni in the corporate world include Irene Rosenfeld(Mondelēz, formerly Kraft), Fisk Johnson (SC Johnson & Son), Mark Bertolini (Aetna), Joe Saddi (Strategy&), and David Duffield (PeopleSoft). Alumni in government and academia include Robert S. Kaplan (Harvard professor), Ned C. Hill (former Dean of the Marriott School of Management), and John Hillen (former Assistant Secretary of State).
Johnson’s specialties are clearly its connection to Cornell University, the larger learning community that it fosters, its environment of collaboration with other university departments, its curriculum that forges classwork and field experience, and the academic flexibility that it offers students.
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