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Colleges with Strong Undergraduate Business Programs

For high school students, especially those worried about student debt or economic uncertainty post-pandemic, an undergraduate business major is especially appealing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in business and financial operations occupations is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029 (faster than the average for all occupations) adding about 476,200 new jobs. Given this exceptional job growth in business-related fields, college is a great time to build financial literacy and a concrete skillset that will allow you to pursue a career in profitable sectors like accounting, market research, economics, and management.


It is important to note that Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton, Stanford, and many other top schools do NOT offer undergraduate business degrees. Prospective students should ask themselves if business is something they want to pursue in college or if they would prefer attending a graduate business program once they have established a liberal arts foundation. For students who know they want to attend a school with course offerings on topics like accounting, finance, health care policy, legal studies, marketing, and real estate, there are many competitive options from which to choose. After graduation, undergraduate business majors often go on to graduate school in law, business, or public policy or move to financial hubs like New York, Boston, and San Francisco to work at investment banks, consulting firms, or Fortune 500 companies. Entry-level job titles for business majors might include “financial analyst,” “office manager,” or “accountant.”


Using data compiled from sources such as U.S. News and World Report, Rugg’s Recommendations, Poets&Quants, and Niche, we have gathered information about 10 of the strongest business programs, in no particular order, for undergraduates in the United States:

1. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)

Wharton’s undergraduate program emphasizes a liberal arts curriculum, with over 30 percent of the degree requirements taken outside of business. Students may also apply to specialized programs with three other undergraduate schools: The School of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Nursing. These coordinated dual-degree options allow students to earn two degrees within four to five years, specializing in topics such as international studies and health care management. Although all students graduate from Wharton with a bachelor of science in economics, they are required to choose a concentration sophomore year in a more specialized area of business such as accounting, global analysis, legal studies and business ethics, management real estate, or statistics. Unlike many business programs, all Wharton undergraduate lectures are taught by professors, not graduate students. First year students begin their time at Wharton with introductory courses in economics, critical writing, and calculus, as well as Wharton 101. From there, students may select courses from over 4,000 electives and take classes at Penn’s 11 other schools along with MBA-level courses at Wharton. 

Fun Fact: Wharton emphasizes international experiences with over 20 programs with top business schools around the world. For shorter international programs, students can participate in a 10-day Wharton International Program to visit businesses and attend lectures in different countries. Students may also attend a Global Modular Courses, an intensive workshop that lasts 3-7 days on a specific topic. Recent examples include “Lessons from Israeli Innovation,” “Healthcare and Business on Ethiopia,” and “Global Supply Chain in China.”

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management)

Course 15, the MIT Sloan undergraduate program, provides a management education that emphasizes quantitative training. Students can select a major or minor in management, business analytics, or finance and are encouraged to pursue research with MIT faculty during the summer or as a semester-long project. Students who want to learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation can work with MIT start-ups or create their own company, taking advantage of the many funding opportunities on campus. Follow MIT Sloan Undergrad Program on Instagram for a more informal glimpse into campus life and opportunities: @mitsloanundergrad.

Fun Fact: One unique opportunity at MIT is the iDiplomats internship, which allows students to study entrepreneurship internationally.

3. Babson College

Babson College is the No. 1 undergraduate school for entrepreneurship, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students at Babson have many opportunities to cultivate entrepreneurial leadership through coursework, internships, and research experience. A hallmark of the Babson curriculum includes “Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME),” a yearlong course where teams are formed to create, develop, launch, and manage a real venture with up to $9000 of startup money loaned by the college. Babson is a great choice for students who are looking for this type of real-world experience and want to take skill-based, practical courses like “Platforms, Clouds and Networks,” and “Crowdfunding.”

Fun Fact: Babson is recognized globally for its Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® (ET&A™) methodology, which teaches students how to “balance action, experimentation, and creativity with a deep understanding of business fundamentals and rigorous analysis.” Some of the ET&A™ course offerings include “Failure is good; ACT, LEARN, BUILT, REPEAT,” and “Silicon Valley Tech Ventures.”

4. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper School of Business)

The undergraduate business program at Carnegie Mellon offers programs in business and economics as well as an inter-college major in Computational Finance, which combines math, statistics, and business. Students have opportunities to engage in coursework that emphasizes technology, engineering, AI, robotics, and business analytics in smaller classes where they can receive personalized guidance and support. Through their chosen concentration, students study specific skills in greater depth such as marketing management, entrepreneurship, or business analytics and technologies. Students in the Economics program may also choose to pursue one of the three joint majors offered: a BS in Economics and Politics, a BS in Economics and Mathematical Sciences, or a BS in Economics and Statistics. Take a look at The Tepper Show, a new video series, to learn more about the undergraduate experience.

Fun Fact: Each year, roughly 10 to 15 percent of business students study business management abroad through Carnegie Mellon international programs.

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5. Cornell University (Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management)

Cornell and UPenn are the only Ivy League schools to offer undergraduate business programs. Cornell applicants have the choice of two undergraduate business programs, both housed within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the School of Hotel Administration (SHA). Dyson School undergraduates major in applied economics and management, with a focus on business. Students may choose to pursue a double-major with life sciences, environmental sciences, agricultural sciences, or applied social sciences. There are 1,500 undergrads enrolled in these two programs and over 20 student organizations housed within the SC Johnson College of Business. For AEM majors, there are 11 concentration options, including “environmental, energy and resource economics,” and “food industry management” along with more conventional concentrations like marketing and finance. The School of Hotel Administration is a good choice for students who want to begin a career in the hospitality industry and learn how to apply business analytics to property management and real estate.

Fun Fact: 95% of business undergrads complete internships before they graduate and 36% travel internationally for study abroad programs or service learning.

6. Georgetown (McDonough School of Business)

Georgetown’s undergraduate business program requires students to complete 120 semester hours of courses in the liberal arts business core, a chosen major(s), and electives. The seven majors offered are: accounting, finance, international political economy and business, international business regional studies, management, marketing, and operations and analytics. There are many opportunities to compete in international case competitions, engage in undergraduate research, and take part in consulting projects for clients alongside faculty. As of Spring 2020, the McDonough School of Business and the Walsh School of Foreign Service now offer an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Business and Global Affairs (BSBGA). This degree is perfect for students who want to study the intersection of business, geopolitics, and global policy. As part of Georgetown’s unique Undergraduate Global Business Experience, students work in teams underfaculty supervision to complete a consulting project for an organization abroad. Some of the opportunities include a case study in Tel Aviv focused on innovation and technology and a case study on the global wine industry in Mendoza, Argentina.

Fun Fact: This spring, Georgetown McDonough introduced the Sustainable Business Fellows program for undergraduate students who are interested in sustainability-related issues in the business world.

7. New York University (Stern School of Business)

Prospective NYU students can apply directly to three different undergraduate business programs: the BS in Business, the BS in Business and Political Economy, or the BS in Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship. The most popular undergraduate business program, the BS in Business, offers 13 business concentrations and eight interdisciplinary tracks. The BS in Business and Political Economy focuses on the relationship between business, political economy, and international business. For students who know they want to study abroad, this is a great opportunity to combine coursework with international programming. In fact, almost 50% of NYU Stern students study abroad for at least one semester and take advantage of NYU’s 13 global locations. Finally, the BS in Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship includes a STEM-focused curriculum and emphasizes the intersection between business and technology.

Fun Fact: One of NYU’s unique dual-degree programs is theBS in Business/BFA in Film and Television. This 5-year program allows students to earn degrees from NYU Stern and NYU Tisch and prepare for a career in the entertainment industry.

8. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)

The University of Michigan’s undergraduate business program prioritizes hands-on, student-run business experience through the Ross Experiences in Action-Based Learning (REAL). Through the REAL Invest opportunity, students manage investment funds focusing on social ventures or early-stage companies. Students can also pursue their more specialized interests both through course electives and clubs like Michigan FinTech and the Finance Club. The undergraduate program offers a BA in Business Administration, a Business minor, an Entrepreneurship minor, and a Real Estate Development minor. There are also 14 Ross centers and institutes to provide interdisciplinary enrichment like the Sanger Leadership Center, which facilitates experiences like the Leadership Crisis Challenge and the Business+Impact Challenge. Students who are interested in international business can take advantage of global fellowship opportunities in China, Israel, and other locations around the world.

Fun Fact: 81 percent of Ross BBAs accepted jobs on the east coast, west coast, or Chicago.

9. University of Texas, Austin (McCombs School of Business)

The Texas Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program has been rising in the annual rankings based on peer school assessment. All Texas BBAs take foundational courses in business, but develop a specialty in one of ten majors to gain specialized skills: Accounting, Marketing, Management, Finance, Management Information Systems, Business Analytics, Quantitative Analysis, Entrepreneurship, Production/Operations, Real Estate, Insurance, and Supply Chain/Logistics. Within each major, there are opportunities to focus on a particular track to complement individual goals and gain professional experience. Students who major in Finance may select one of six specialized tracks: Corporate Finance and Investment Banking, Energy Finance, Financial Markets/Banking; Investment Management, Quantitative, or Real Estate. High school seniors who are interested in the BBA program can also choose to apply to the Canfield Business Honors Program (Canfield BHP), a competitive, merit-based four-year major and honors community. When students complete the program, which follows a case-based MBA curriculum, they will earn a BBA in Business Honors. Other on-campus resources at McCombs include the Social Innovation Initiative (SII), which focuses on “corporate sustainability, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and ESG investing.”

Fun Fact: At the end of sophomore year, McCombs students can apply to the Integrated Masters in Professional Accounting (iMPA), a five-year program that allows students to graduate with a Bachelor in Business Administration and a Master in Professional Accounting. The Texas MPA program has been ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report and the Public Accounting Report.

10. Wake Forest University School of Business

At Wake Forest, undergraduates can pursue a BS degree through the University School of Business in Accountancy, Business & Enterprise Management, Finance, or Mathematical Business (offered in conjunction with the Department of Mathematics). Junior year, students can apply to the Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) degree, building on foundational concepts and practices or accountancy and business. Minors offered within the Wake Forest College of Arts and Sciences complement the School of Business program, especially the Business and Enterprise Management degree. Some of the most popular interdisciplinary minors include Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise, Global Trade and Commerce, and International Studies.

Fun Fact: After graduation, 26% of graduating students go into finance, 14% are hired in consulting roles, 9% take jobs in marketing/sales, 4% pursue analytics, and 25% go on to graduate school.

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For more information and advice on this topic, see Mimi’s article in Entrepreneur, “10 Tips to Get into Undergraduate Business Programs” and take action now to create a strategic and compelling application. To be in range at competitive undergraduate business schools, you need to demonstrate advanced quantitative skills through high-level math courses, strong AP test scores, clear entrepreneurial achievements, and an academic niche in a particular area of business. Contact us today and learn how we can help you on your admissions journey through private counseling, test prep, or essay guidance.

Top Tips

Mimi & Michele Sit Down With College Confidential

Recently we had the pleasure of collaborating with College Confidential and answered a few of their readers college admissions questions focusing on college selection.


CC Reader Q:
My daughter got into her dream school. But she has a contingency on her acceptance – she has to get a B in a really difficult STEM class this semester, and she’s barely hanging on to that grade. She won’t know her final grade until after June 1. Should she accept at another school right before the deadline in case she doesn’t get the grade and the “dream” school rescinds her acceptance because she got a C instead?

Congratulations to your daughter on her acceptance to her “dream school.” Schools that accept with contingencies mean business and will definitely review her grades with the possibility of rescinding her acceptance. Her plan of action should be to hire a tutor for the class, meet with her teacher for extra help, focus all the time she used applying to colleges to now keep her acceptance to her “dream school.” Her friends might be trying to infect her with “senioritis,” but she and her work ethic must prevail. And, sure, she can accept her second choice school’s offer of acceptance and simply forfeit the deposit if for some reason she can’t push up her STEM class grade and is no longer invited to join the Class of 2025. As a parent and advocate for teens, however, we’d say she needs to put in heroic effort now to save her dream. She can do it.


CC Reader Q:
My high school senior never got to take the SAT due to COVID-19 cancellations. He has already been accepted to test optional colleges for Fall 2021. My husband thinks he should still take the SAT this summer just so he has it on his record for perhaps future grad school admissions or if he wants to transfer to another college. He doesn’t plan to send the scores to any of his current colleges. What do you guys think? Is it worth taking the SAT after he has already graduated?

The short answer is, yes, your senior should take the SAT this spring if he’s studied for it and has a practice score that is in the mid to high 700s. Why? Because if he should decide to transfer colleges a high SAT score will help his application. Graduate schools won’t require the SAT as they have their own tests, but it could also be helpful if your son plans to work in the financial industry as believe it or not, some internship programs ask for SAT or ACT scores. 


CC Reader Q:
I am an 8th grader who is taking Geometry A currently (I ended with a 99 in Algebra 1 and have a 97 currently in Geometry A) and wanted to move up. The advanced kids are taking

Geometry B and Algebra 2 this year (8th grade) and are doing Pre-Calc in 9th grade, I am very interested in moving up to that level and am asking, is it worth taking Geometry B/ Algebra 2 during the summer?

Congrats on your initiative! Yes, because you are doing well in Geometry and Algebra, it’s clear you are a strong math student. Like music, math is easier to learn when you are young and focused on it so it would be super helpful to take those classes in the summer and jump to Pre Calc in 9th. That way, in terms of “course rigor” you’d match up to the best students in your school and you’d pave the way for higher level math classes early on like BC Calc, Multivariable Calc and Linear Algebra. You will also have the advantage of having lots of prerequisites done that open the door to engineering paths, higher level physics courses, etc. that will make you a more competitive college applicant down the road.



CC Reader Q:
Hi all! I was recently accepted to the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University. I have absolutely no idea which one I should attend, and would love some thoughts about both. Any unfiltered opinions are appreciated!

This is the list of pros and cons I quickly drew up…add more if I missed some.


PROs: Rural, diverse, good research, can’t go wrong in any department, Greek life, prestige and name recognition, vast

CONs: More diverse in terms of the type of student (for example, more not as outgoing and those who were told since birth they had to go to an IVY), feels more uptight, less community feel, bigger class. My biggest concern is grade deflation, how much I will have to grind to do well in classes, and the cut-throatiness. If you went to Cornell, please give me your thoughts on the rigor!

Notre Dame

PROs: Football, school spirit and all-around fun, super strong alumni network, strong community on and off campus

CONs: less diverse, not as built up in STEM (I think?), less name recognition in Northeast, no Greek,

They are of equal ranking – last year Notre Dame was ranked higher, this year Cornell is by only one. So, I am not considering ranking. I assume I will get a good education at both, but to make a decision I have to consider all the minute details.

As you point out, you can’t go wrong. Much will have to do with your particular major and area of study. In terms of academics, we would rate Cornell higher than Notre Dame with an Ivy League education that will open doors around the world. Notre Dame is more regional and may not be as appealing to employers in other parts of the country and world simply on name recognition alone. We’ve had dozens of students who have just loved Cornell so we’d lean that way.

USC vs Penn

CC Reader Q:
I seriously can’t pick between the two and it’s stressing me out a LOT so maybe you all can help!

University of Southern California – 18k per year (on a full tuition scholarship)


  • Location/weather
  • Less stress probably
  • Trojan scholar society
  • Cheaper
  • Already have a few friends there
  • Seems like it may be easier for me to stand out
  • Honors suite dorm is the perfect fit for me because I can’t do communal bathrooms


  • Can’t do freshman science honors program because didn’t take physics
  • Not as successful as UPenn in getting students into medical school
  • May be harder to get an internship because so many people
  • Not as prestigious/recent scandals have made it seem not so great to be honest

University of Pennsylvania – 28k per year (waiting on appeal for more aid)


  • Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences
  • Better pre-med program and opportunities
  • More prestigious
  • Already know I like the campus because visited
  • School of medicine is on campus + children’s hospital nearby


  • Environment seems way more stressful
  • More expensive
  • Will be harder to maintain GPA and be top of the class
  • Campus is not as pretty/weather can suck

We think it might be worth stepping out of your comfort zone a bit and picking Penn. After all, not only is it a top Ivy (which will help down the line when you look for jobs/graduate school) but it’s a world class institution with some of the best professors in the country. Weather is less of an issue. We think it’s good for kids to attend college away from where they grew up to expose them to different parts of the country. Naturally if price is a major issue, you could pick USC with its cheaper price tag but no one has ever regretted paying more to attend one of the top universities in the world and that degree will pay dividends many times over.

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Pick the Right College

You’ve worked hard in your high school classes, taken standardized tests, submitted college applications, and it all paid off! You’ve been admitted to college—in fact, you’ve been admitted to several colleges. But now you face a new challenge: how do you choose? Which school is the best fit for you?


Below, we’ve laid out a number of factors to consider and ways to explore your options to help you make the right choice.

Visit: When it comes to college, you’re picking not just the place you will study and grow as a student, but also where you’ll live for the next four years. With that in mind, you’ll want to select a school where you feel comfortable and where you can find a community that suits you. How will you know which school that is? By visiting!

Visits have been difficult this year, but schools are working hard to give admitted students a sense of the college experiences they offer. Some colleges—including Tulane and Colgate—are now allowing admitted students to attend in-person tours and information sessions. Others have put together virtual programs and events to introduce admitted students to campus offerings. Take advantage of all available opportunities to explore your potential colleges. You might be surprised by which schools end up feeling like the best fit for you.

Talk to Students & Faculty: One of the best ways to learn about an institution is to talk to the people who are already part of it. Almost all colleges will provide opportunities for you to speak with currently enrolled students and faculty members. Dartmouth, for example, offers faculty presentations and “Pine Pods” to help introduce students to the community, while UVA’s Days on the Lawn gives admitted students an opportunity to chat with current undergrads. You might also reach out to friends and family members who have attended your schools of interest to see if they can give you any insights. Your school guidance counselor might be able to put you in touch with former students who have enrolled at particular colleges within the past few years.

If you want to get a better sense of the academic opportunities at a school, you might also reach out to faculty members to learn a bit more about their department or to request the opportunity to sit in on a class. While not every faculty member will be able to assist you, some might have a few minutes to answer your questions, which will give you a better sense of the department you might be joining.

Review Academic Programs: You applied to schools with academic opportunities that interest you, but now’s the time to explore them in depth. Which school has the most robust programs in your area of interest? Does it offer classes on your ideal subjects? Does it help students gain internships and get involved with local community projects? How easy does the school make it to study abroad within your major?

If you have multiple interests or think your focus might change during college, you’ll also want to pay attention to opportunities for double majoring and minoring. If you’re thinking of transferring to another school within a university (e.g., from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Engineering), how easy is it to accomplish that? Perhaps you’ve been admitted to a school that’s part of a 3-2 Engineering Program. Contact the program supervisor and ask for more specific details on how to qualify. 

We realize that reviewing the details is hardly the most exciting part of the college acceptance process, but doing that work now ensures that you’ll end up at a place with the resources to support your interests.

Consider the Costs: No matter how you cut it, college is expensive. For this reason, you’ll want to consider the price tag of each institution carefully. How much is the annual tuition? How much will your living expenses be? If some schools are offering you scholarships or better financial aid packages, make sure you take that into account when reviewing offers. You can adjust your financial aid package during the coming years if your situation changes, but you don’t want to count on that when deciding among several offers.


Once you’ve had a chance to explore a college and its programs, to chat with those who already attend it, and to think pragmatically about costs, we hope you’ll feel more comfortable choosing one school over the others. After that, you get to enjoy the end of senior year and a relaxing, SAT-free summer. You did it!

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Spring Academic Conference Season is HERE

It’s spring-time, and academic conference season is BLOOMING. Academic conferences exist all over the world in nearly every field you can imagine. Every academic major has a conference aligned with it and usually a professional association or university that hosts them. Conference presentation and attendance is no longer something only for faculty or working professionals/researchers –high school students (even middle school!), college students and graduate students can and should join in and take advantage of the “virtual” opportunity.


When you attend an academic conference, you gain:  exposure to advanced research topics and trends, the ability to learn from some of the most forward-thinking scholars and faculty in your targeted field, networking opportunities with peer students/applicants, newfound inspiration, access to opportunities that exist outside of just your school or your area, and valuable advice/informed input on your own research pathway, paper, project or presentation.

Almost all of the U.S. top colleges have their own version of an Annual Undergraduate Research Conference.
All too often we hear from college students who didn’t know these existed on their campus until senior year —they could have been presenting and attending since freshman year!

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Here are some spring 2021 undergraduate research conferences (all virtual this year):

  • UMichigan’s is April 9, 2021
  • Stanford’s is April 10-11, 2021 (but you don’t need to be a Stanford student to present or attend–right now they have students from 38 colleges set to present virtually this year).
  • Penn State University’s is April 24, 2021
  • NYU’s is this May 6-7, 2021

What about conferences for high school students, working professionals or current graduate students?
Don’t worry, there are plenty for you too, and often conference registration discounts if you’re in school. In years past, committing to attending an academic conference often meant a hefty registration free, a possible flight, a hotel stay and meals while traveling. But, the 2021 spring conference season flipped almost all academic conferences to virtual (with plentiful sessions recorded!) so you have unique access to a huge list of 2021 academic conferences that can boost your credentials, exposure to your field, depth of knowledge, and networking opportunities. 

Case in point: In my role as Top Tier Senior Private Counselor, I recently urged an international high school student to attend an Ivy League faculty member’s international conference presentation on Zoom –she enjoyed a one-on-one chat after the session where she was free to ask questions about the lecture, connect with the faculty member about his institution and discuss research topics and trends.

Another student, who is applying to PhD programs this fall, was pleasantly surprised that her research paper proposal (abstract) was accepted for presentation at a prestigious international virtual conference in her field this spring. It will be a terrific boost for her resume, and the chair of the session happens to be a faculty member at her top targeted university.

Enrichment Program

Expand your student’s interests beyond the classroom and develop an academic niche throughout middle school and into high school!


With that…. here are five 2021 academic conferences (all virtual) that might appeal to you this spring: (high school students typically can secure the “undergrad” rate, but you often have to email the conference contact to request this)

  1. American Chemical Society’s Annual Meeting: April 5-10, 2021
    This STEM conference does a great service for students (high school students included) as they separate out their “student-focused programming.” These include sessions such as “Enabling environmentally friendly plastics” and “Goals and activities of the Warriors Chemistry Club: COVID-19 edition” (eyes on you, students seeking to launch a Chemistry Club at your school!).  ($29 online registration fee for all 5 days, though you only need to attend the sessions you want to.)
  2. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Soft Robotics hosted by Yale University: April 12-16, 2021 
    Presenters from Yale, Facebook, UC San Diego, Columbia, and more are planned. They also have optional included workshops on topics such as material intelligence and interventional robotics, as well as a robotics competition you can observe and two informative “speed networking” sessions you can partake in. ($25 online registration fee)
  3. Society for Affective Science Annual Conference (co-sponsored by Harvard, Tufts, and the Society for the Improvement for Psychological Science): April 13-16, 2021
    There are faculty presenters from UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, Harvard, UMichigan, Vanderbilt, and more. This 2021 conference examines topics on psychology, neuropsychology, family dynamics, and speech and brain patterns. ($50 online registration fee)
  4. Society for Military History’s 87th Annual Meeting: May 20-23, 2021
    There is an in-person option in Norfolk, VA and also a virtual option to attend. They have not yet posted the virtual registration rate, but will soon. Their on-site rates indicate that the virtual registration rate would be on par with the other conferences listed here.
  5. Society for Freshwater Science Annual Meeting: May 23-27, 2021
    This is their first ever virtual conference and sessions topics are set to cover: freshwater science ecological changes in arctic lakes and rivers, inequitable waterscapes, environmental justice, “herstory in freshwater sciences,” and more. There are also added (included) e-workshops on “writing for aquatic scientists” (including students), and my personal favorite “Trash Talk,” on the ecology of trash in freshwater. ($30 online registration fee)

These are 5 low cost options that could make a BIG impact on your spring, and perhaps your summer and eventual college, graduate school and/or research pathway as well.

Want a more personalized list of conferences and our tips and tricks on how to take full advantage of academic conference presentation, attendance and e-networking this year?  Get in touch, whether for grad or undergrad–we’d love to work with you!

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Colleges with Strong Political Science Programs

Political science remains one of the most popular college majors each year. And for good reason. Students who study political science have the opportunity to hone their debate and public speaking skills while also becoming strong writers and critical thinkers. In today’s political climate, this major feels as timely as ever. If you have volunteered for a political campaign, listen to podcasts like Pod Save America, or watch PBS NewsHour instead of reality tv, this may be the major for you. Political science is a social science discipline with qualitative (case studies, historical analysis) and quantitative (game theory, statistics) components. At most colleges, political science/government courses not only address current events, but also delve into political theory, international relations, international law, and other subfields. After graduation, political science majors often go on to graduate school in law, business, journalism, or public policy or move to D.C. to work at think tanks, consulting firms, news organizations, or the government itself. Entry-level job titles for political science majors might include “legislative assistant,” “policy analyst,” or “public relations specialist.”


Using data compiled from sources such as U.S. News and World Report, Rugg’s Recommendations, and Niche, we have gathered information about the strongest political science programs for undergraduates in the United States, organized by region:


  • Harvard: It comes as no surprise that Harvard, with notable alumni including eight U.S. presidents, boasts one of the best government programs in the country. The Government Department at Harvard also offers four optional programs of study as part of the degree: Data Science, Tech Science, Public Policy, and Political Economy. Students who opt into one of these themed programs take specialized courses and may participate in additional co-curricular programming. Harvard offers the opportunity to conduct research for academic credit and students benefit from career chats with alumni—perfect for post-grad networking.
  • Columbia: Political science majors at Columbia develop depth by specializing in one of the following subfields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. In addition to courses and seminars in these subfields, students also must complete a research methods course. One thing that makes Columbia stand out from other programs is its practical, skill-based interdisciplinary majors: Economics-Political Science and Political Science-Statistics. Interested juniors may also apply for the B.A./M.A. Program for Columbia Undergraduates. Of course, Columbia’s location in New York City is another huge perk for political science majors who want to pursue professional internships alongside their degree.
  • Dartmouth: Dartmouth’s idyllic location in rural New Hampshire might not seem like a natural place for a political powerhouse, but Dartmouth’s Department of Government has produced an impressive number of distinguished alumni in the field, including U.S. Cabinet members, members of Congress, Governors, ambassadors, and diplomats. The Government major at Dartmouth is divided into four main subfields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory/Public Law. The department also offers three Modified Government Majors: Government with Economics, Government with Philosophy, and Government, Philosophy, and Economics. A hallmark of Dartmouth’s Government major is its off-campus program offerings. The London program focuses on international relations and comparative politics and the Washington, D.C. program offers research opportunities and an internship in legislative and executive offices. The Russia program  offers interdisciplinary courses in government and energy policy, in partnership with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. During election years, Dartmouth is a frequent stop on the campaign trail and has hosted a number of presidential debates.

West Coast:

  • Stanford: Stanford’s political science program includes a Bachelor of Arts degree or the option to pursue a Bachelor of Arts with Honors (part of the Political Science Honors program). To complete this degree, students take introductory courses and then focus on two of five tracks: Data Science; Elections, Representation, and Governance; International Relations; Justice and Law; or Political Economy and Development. Students are encouraged to pursue research with Stanford professors through the Summer Research College where undergraduates spend ten weeks working with a faculty mentor and receive a $5,000 stipend.
  • UCLA: UCLA’s political science program includes lecture series, departmental workshops, faculty talks, and unique opportunities to study in Washington D.C. at the Center for American Politics and Public Policy (CAPPP) or at the University of California Center Sacramento. Upper division political science courses are organized into six fields: (1) political theory, (2) international relations, (3) American politics, (4) comparative politics, (5) methods and models, and (6) Race, Ethnicity and politics. Students may apply to the department honor program if they have fulfilled certain requirements and maintain a 3.5 GPA in upper division political science courses.
  • UC Berkeley: There are approximately 45 faculty, 1,000 undergraduate students and 125 PhD students in the Berkeley political science department. In addition to more traditional subfields, such as American politics or international relations, the department offers a more diverse array of courses in topics such as formal theory, public policy, political behavior, and public law. Junior year, political science majors attend faculty-led seminars to develop their research and writing skills. Student may also take advantage of the many complementary centers and institutes on campus, such as the Citrin Center for Public Opinion​, Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, Institute of Governmental Studies, Institute of Industrial Relations, and the Center on the Politics of Development. According to the department website, “The Political Science major is concerned with exploring the exercise of power in its myriad forms and consequences. Students in the major are encouraged to explore such central issues as the ethical problems attendant to the exercise of power; the history of important political ideas, such as “liberty”, “justice”, “community”, and “morality”; the impact of historical, economic, and social forces on the operation of politics; the functioning and distinctive features of the US political system; the diversity of political systems found among national and the significance of these differences; the interaction among international actors and the causes of war and peace.”

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  • Washington University of St. Louis: The WashU department of political science has a particular strength in political theory and environmentalism. Within the department, there are two majors offered: Political Science and Environmental Policy. Students may also select up to two subfield concentrations in American politics, comparative politics, international politics, political methodology, or political theory. Students may use AP credit to place out of an introductory course and eligible majors may choose to write a senior thesis, guided by a faculty advisor. The Department of Political Science offers several awards in recognition of special scholarly achievement by undergraduate students and many complete internships in political and community organizations. For students who are considering Law School after graduation, they may wish to pursue a minor in Legal Studies, an interdisciplinary academic program about law. High achieving political science majors can apply for research assistantships, support for honor theses, and conference travel through the Murray Weidenbaum Center Scholars Program. The department regularly hosts events such as political theory workshops and speaker series.
  • University of Michigan: The University of Michigan is the perfect choice for students who want to conduct high-level political science undergraduate research. Through supervised study, research fellowships, and honors theses, students have many chances to dive into a specific subfield of political science and prepare for graduate study. Students may also pursue internships and service learning to gain more hands-on skills to prepare for careers in law, journalism, policy development, business, or other governmental and non-governmental organizations. Classes are organized into five topical areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, World Politics, Political Theory, and Research Methods.
  • University of Chicago: The University of Chicago has always been on the cutting edge of research in the field of political science and holds its students to a very high standard. The political science major requires twelve political science courses and a substantial research paper (either a BA Thesis or a Long Paper). All students must take three out of four introductory courses (Introduction to Political Theory, Introduction to American Politics, Introduction to Comparative Politics, Introduction to International Relations) as well as a research methods course. The political science department has designed workshops in American politics, comparative politics, East Asia, nations and nationalism, organizations and state building, political theory, Middle East politics, and international relations. Other workshops at the University of Chicago include American Politics, East Asia: Politics, Economy, and Society, Historical Capitalisms, and Political Economy. These workshops function as forums for discussion and debate and a place where students can meet classmates who share their interests.


  • George Washington University: Political science is one of GW’s most popular majors, with more than 800 students. Core focus areas include American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, public policy, and research methods. The undergraduate major focuses on writing-intensive coursework and opportunities to practice producing research papers, book reviews, thought papers, and political theory writing. Students are also encouraged to participate in the Politics and Values Program, attend conferences hosted by the Pi Sigma Alpha Honors Society, and engage with GW’s many centers and institutes (for instance the Institute of Public Policy, the Institute for International Economic Policy, and the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication). Many students take advantage of GW’s location in Washington, D.C. to intern for credit on Capitol Hill, at the White House and with local nongovernmental organizations, embassies, think tanks, and other agencies. Large classes and smaller seminars within the department focus on topics that include “The Internet and Politics,” “Supreme Court Decision-Making” and “Ethnic Politics in Eastern and Central Europe.”
  • Georgetown: Georgetown offers two majors within the department of Government: Government and Political Economy. As a major, you can take classes in four subfields: American Government; Comparative Government; International Relations; and Political Theory. Undergraduates also benefit from the jointly appointed faculty and shared programming with Georgetown’s other schools with strong ties to politics and policy: the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, the McCourt School of Public Policy, and the Georgetown Law Center. Due to Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C., students often spend their free time engaging in political life and pursuing internships to gain real-world experience.
  • Naval Academy: Midshipmen who pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in political science can take courses in three sub-fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. They are also taught quantitative methods for social sciences and have opportunities to specialize in a particular area of study, such as national security or violent conflict, through clusters of courses, a capstone seminar, and independent research projects. To complement their foreign language requirement, students often pursue summer internship programs sponsored by the department that allow them to work abroad or at agencies such as the State Department and Office of Naval Intelligence. Beyond their courses, students in the political science department can also take part in the annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference, Navy Debate, Model United Nations, or Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society.

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  • Duke: The political science major at Duke fosters critical thinking, writing and communication skills, and a foundation in data analysis, including quantitative skills. Many students choose to double major with complementary programs, such as history, economics, or statistics. Within the department, students may pursue one of the two certificate programs: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, and Decisions Sciences. Courses are organized into six fields of study: Political Economy (PE), Political Behavior and Identities (BI), Political Institutions (PI), Political Methodology (M), Political Theory (N), and Security, Peace and Conflict (SPC). Students also have access to Duke’s unique Focus Program, which provides clusters of courses designed around an interdisciplinary theme, such as the cognitive sciences, ethics and global citizenship, genomics, knowledge in the service of society, and global health. Approximately one third of political science majors and minors participate in global education.
  • UNC Chapel Hill: Political science is one of the most popular majors at UNC and one of the top 15 political science departments in the country. It is also one of the most adaptable programs and provides students the flexibility to craft their own area of expertise by the time they graduate. Within the department, students can engage in a variety of courses across four concentrations: American politics; international politics; law, ethics, and politics. It is also possible to “build-your-own” thematic concentration. The Department of Political Science also organizes social events to develop a community of students who share similar interests. Students can attend speaker series, film screenings, or events through Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, open to students who meet certain academic criteria. For students who want to conduct political science research, UNC would be a great fit, and many undergraduate courses include a research component. Political science majors are also encouraged to pursue directed research with a faculty advisor or apply for the Honors Program, which culminates in a senior thesis.
  • Vanderbilt: Political science majors at Vanderbilt have opportunities to participate in independent studies, selected topics seminars, the honors program, and a wide range of internships. Since the average class size is close to thirty, students get to know their professors and often participate in the governance of the department through the Undergraduate Political Science Association. Vanderbilt also houses a number of research centers that complement the political science major, including the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and the Research on Individuals, Politics & Society Lab. Faculty research interests include political behavior in North and South America, race relations and public policy, American and comparative judicial institutions, the foundations of human rights, feminist and formal political theory, and international law.  


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