When It Comes to Top 25 National Rankings Kennesaw State University Means Business

John Tabellione

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

While it may take a few years before Kennesaw State’s fledgling football team appears in the national power rankings, the Michael J. Coles College of Business at KSU has already achieved Top 25 status in several major nationwide polls year-in and year-out against a strong, competitive environment. 

Here’s a quick look at the standings for KSU’s prestigious business school: 

  • Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Coles MBA ranked #1 among part-time, public universities in Georgia and #22 in U.S. overall 
  • U.S. News & World Report: Coles online MBA #25 in the nation among public universities 
  • CEO Magazine: Coles EMBA among the top 25 Tier-One programs in North America 
  • BusinessWeek: Coles Executive MBA ranked #3 for “Teaming” 
  • U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans: Coles tied for 25th place nationally 
  • BestColleges.com Online BBA: Coles ranked #9 in U.S.
  • Business Capital Top 20 business schools for Family Business (Cox Family Enterprise Center) 

With that type of consistent track record, it’s no wonder the market demand for professional talent in Atlanta and beyond seeks out KSU’s business school graduates. 

The game plan to meet those goals includes offering nine business majors, 13 minors and nine graduate degrees. 

According to Coles College Dean, Dr. Kathy Schwaig, “Student life on campus is vibrant and dynamic with the university having so much to offer the traditional age student from great academics to athletics to many social and service organizations.  We also have great leadership and vision from our president and provost and exceptional faculty and staff supporting all of our programs.  I’m truly honored to be in a place where students and their success matter.  In the Coles College, we have several distinctive programs which at their core, strive to give students real world experience while engaging the business community. For instance, the Coles College is host to the National Collegiate Sales Competition where teams come from across the U.S. to compete in role-playing sales scenarios. We have judges from some of the leading corporations in the sales field evaluating these students.  There is also a job fair being held simultaneously with the competition.  It’s an honor for these students to represent their home institutions and these companies, of course, want the chance to hire these students.”   

Schwaig went on to say, “We’re also very proud that the Coles College is home to the only undergraduate degree in Information Security and Assurance in the state of Georgia.  There is a growing demand for graduates in the cybersecurity field in Atlanta and beyond and we are looking to invest more in this space so that we can be at the forefront of meeting this demand.  KSU is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security”.  

Since 2009, the Coles College of Business also has been home to one of the most innovative doctoral programs in the country.  The Doctor of Business Administration is designed to prepare highly experienced professionals for teaching and research positions at accredited business schools or for advanced research positions in consulting, government or industry.  The program has graduated over 30 students since its inception and continues to be a major player in doctoral business education. 

Coles’ nationally ranked MBA programs, as shown above, give business professionals the additional acumen they need to step forward and gain a top-level view of their industry.

Furthermore, at the undergraduate level, the Coles College of Business has several areas of impact by which it coaches students for their careers, primarily through the Hughes Leadership and Career Program.  This curriculum, designed by faculty and with input from the dean’s student advisory board, serves to counsel 5,000 undergraduates on how to select a major that is a good fit for them. Even potential employers provide input for the students, who are then immersed in activities created to develop their leadership potential, collaboration skills and negotiation tactics. 

“The process starts at the sophomore level with a focus on improving students’ verbal and written communication skills, and by their senior year, the students are ready to think past their college education. What I really appreciate about this program is that the students have the opportunity to sit down, face-to-face, with a career coach who can help them navigate their choice of major and career at a time when it matters most.  During their last year at KSU, we are focusing them on professional polish and interview skills that will carry them into their business career,” said Dr. Schwaig. 

She elaborated that she feels an ethical responsibility to fully develop the students who have paid their tuition for an education and believes that it is incumbent upon her and the school to help that education culminate into a successful job search and ultimate career.

Dr. Schwaig, who is in her third year as Dean and 12th overall at KSU, added, “We are so fortunate to be a part of the metro Atlanta community.  I get contacted daily by business professionals who want to lecture in our classes, hire our students, and impact our programs in a positive way.  Our students love to hear from practicing business professionals about what’s going on in the business world today.  Our faculty, many of whom have had very successful business careers in addition to academic success, provide that relevant content and then augment it with guest lecturers from the business community.”  

“Similarly, part of our national prestige and success is the fact that we have connections with the business community that provide guidance on curriculum, mentors for our students, internships and coops and professional development programs for students that have been shown to help increase first-year employment productivity and employer ROI by as much as 40 percent,” added Schwaig. She even considers her corporate contacts and relationships as mentors and advisors for herself. “I’m humbled and grateful for these relationship and the investment that the Georgia business community makes in our programs, faculty and students.  It is a reciprocal relationship that benefits all of us and ultimately betters the Georgia economy.”

The Coles College of Business utilizes social media not only to announce events and lectures, but also to communicate to current and prospective students. “We make it a point to listen to the responses we receive. In fact, we have a Student Advisory Board with 20 members, who also provide great feedback. For instance, we learned that, in their minds, the most important element in the classroom is knowing that the professor has relevant business experience,” said Schwaig. She herself held a position in information systems prior to entering academia. 

When asked who had coached or mentored her in her secondary and collegiate years, Dean Schwaig responded, “It was the legacy of my parents. They were the biggest influence in my life. My Dad, who was a minister, had a sense of kindness and a servant leadership style about him that you could feel from the pulpit. From my Mom I admired her great sense of humor and strong character. I cherish their wisdom and memory.”

Dean Schwaig sums up her vision and business philosophy succinctly: “At Coles, we not only teach business, we engage in it. We are an engrossed and diverse community of scholars and practitioners committed to producing quality graduates, delivering an innovative education, and fostering community and business relationships.”

About John Tabellione

John Tabellione is an award-winning, professional business writer, complemented by over twenty-five years of strategic communication responsibilities as a Marketing, New Business Development and National Account Sales Executive in consumer goods and commercial industries. 

Experience with Fortune 500 companies, as well as with smaller firms and non-profits, encompassing a variety of products, including those of Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark and Stanley Works. 

John has a B.A. in English from Fairfield University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Hartford. In addition, he has studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute at Syracuse University, and Italian language and culture at Kennesaw State University.