How Cornell’s New Campus is Giving MBAs Access to New York City

How Cornell’s New Campus is Giving MBAs Access to New York City main image

When it comes to choosing where to study your MBA, school location can be a vital factor. Being based in or close to a bustling business environment will always provide greater networking, internship and wider career opportunities than if you were studying somewhere remote.

This dilemma is something Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business has had to deal with over the years. Traditionally, Johnson programs have been based in Ithaca, which is somewhat remote compared to peer programs. Granted, the school is still among the top-ranked MBA programs in the world (ranked 36th in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018), and its graduates go on to have big careers, but it’s also true that the school’s location was far from ideal.

Double the opportunity

However, that's no longer the case. Since last year, the school’s second campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City’s East River has offered a way for Johnson MBA students to access all of the opportunities the Big Apple has to offer.

The story of the school’s new campus began in 2011, when former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city had chosen Cornell University in partnership with Technion Israel Institute of Technology to create a technology campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City’s East River.

NYC gave away free land on Roosevelt Island and $100 million in infrastructure. In return, Cornell would donate $350 million to finance a new campus dedicated to developing technology and the next wave of job creation.

Preparing for the future

At the time, Bloomberg explained the campus would provide better education to teachers, who need to be more adept in spreading math, science, and digital technology knowledge, while also serving as a place to birth new ventures.

“You can’t have enough incubators,” said Bloomberg in a 2011 appearance about the campus on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

In 2017, the campus opened as Cornell Tech to much fanfare. The Johnson school has its own space on the Roosevelt Island grounds, bringing students and faculty closer to the heart of the Big Apple. After all, Roosevelt Island is a stop on the F train, something Johnson’s Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean Mark W. Nelson was quick to point out to us.

“Johnson has always had a strong relationship with New York City”, he adds. “This is just a deepening of that relationship”.

Looking forward

MBA students have a number of ways to interact with the new campus. For starters, there’s the one-year Johnson Cornell Tech MBA program. Students begin their core studies in the summer in Ithaca, and then head to the Roosevelt Island campus for the fall and spring to pursue their electives.

Some of the program highlights include hands-on learning in the form of consulting projects and the creation of new ventures. In the Startup Studio, MBA students work on teams with those in law and technology disciplines (such as computer science or engineering) on campus to develop a prototype.

Other students who’re not part of this program also have an opportunity to interface with the new campus. In the fall, they can opt to take electives there on the weekends, including Technology Strategy and Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains.

In the spring, students in other programs can do a deep dive in one of two seven-week intensive courses either in fintech or digital marketing, and students will either live on Roosevelt Island or in New York City.

Your favourite location

Nelson says, “Across the board, applicants are excited at the new opportunity. They can get the best of both worlds. They have the Ithaca college experience but can also be more plugged into New York City.”

Not only do students benefit, but it’s a boon for faculty too, he adds. The back and forth between campuses provides a mechanism for faculty collaboration. In fact, Ithaca’s programs have already been influenced by what’s happening on Roosevelt Island.

For example, the flagship two-year MBA program at the Johnson School provides immersions for students to delve into a specialization, the newest being digital technology, which was inspired by the Cornell Tech programs.

Truly, the aim is to create a symbiotic relationship between the two campuses for business students.

Francesca Di Meglio

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website

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