International students make up nearly one-third of the incoming full-time MBA class at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business. The percentage marks an all-time high for the program and a continued effort to maximize industry relevance for students.
“In today’s global economy, business professionals work with people from all over the world,” said Trent Thurman, director of graduate programs at Haslam. “Class diversity helps broaden students’ understanding of how business is done.”
Whit Lammons, an MBA student from Greenville, South Carolina, believes that working with international students will help him to manage global supply chains after graduation. “I hope to improve my cross-cultural communication skills so that I can prepare myself for future business interactions and situations,” Lammons said.
Chutian Li, who hails from Guangzhou, China, but attended University at Buffalo in New York for her undergraduate degree, came to Haslam because she wanted to learn about Southern culture. “It’s a big advantage to learn about the different cultures here and see which fits you the most,” she said. “America is a world leader. My knowledge of it as well as my own culture will be a big advantage when competing for jobs.”
Global experience is a requirement for all graduates of Haslam’s MBA program. American students travel to economic hubs such as Brazil, China and Germany while international students complete a policy session in Washington, D.C.
Real-world relevance also is emphasized as part of each term’s final evaluations, with a team-based case competition. At the end of their first year, students partner with local non-profits on a project to increase their organization’s efficiency and impact.
Shaheen Shaik, an MBA student from Hyderabad, India, says she chose Haslam for its philosophy that students should be equipped with industry knowledge. “The industry connections the college has established give business graduates an opportunity to understand what it takes to ensure a smooth transition from school into a leadership path,” Shaik said. “It also provides excellent insight into how management interacts with its workforce and how organizational behavior is linked with management strategies and decisions.”
The class is composed of 71 total students. The international students represent India, China, Korea, Thailand, Brazil and Ukraine. The percentage of women and the average GMAT score of accepted students has increased for 2015 as well. The incoming class will graduate in December 2016 in keeping with Haslam’s high-compression 17-month MBA schedule.