Responding to growing pressure from students and employers alike, University of Wisconsin’s School of Business is in the process of expanding its Bachelor of Business Administration graduating class size.

In order to meet demand from employers for more business graduates, the school will increase admittance from 600 to 800 graduates.

The business school, now in the second year of the three-year implementation process, welcomed 1,025 new undergraduate students to its BBA program in 2014, a 40 percent increase from the previous year, according to the business school website. Total undergraduate enrollment in BBA classes will grow 33 percent by 2017, allowing for an increase from 1,800 to 2,500 students.

“From the point of view of the students, we saw that there were a lot of quality applicants that we were not able to accept, and [we saw] excess demand from the point of view of the employers — we had a lot of employers asking for more,” Dean of the School of Business, François Ortalo-Magné, said.

According to the Wisconsin School of Business website, 473 organizations, including corporations such as Apple and Amazon, recruited Wisconsin BBA graduates in the 2013-14 school year. In any given year before program expansion, around 100 graduates enter the five-year Master of Accountancy program, so only about 500 of the 600 BBA graduates entered the job market. This led to an approximate 1:1 ratio of graduates to employers, leaving recruiters with a smaller applicant pool.

Assistant Dean of the Business School’s BBA program, Steve Schroeder, said he was not surprised at recruiters’ appetite for more BBA graduates.

“We have a pretty good track record of producing stellar graduates,” Schroeder said. “I think employers trust that if a student has not only gotten accepted to UW-Madison, but also to the BBA program, and graduated from it, that chances are pretty good that they’ll have luck with that student as an employee.”

The expansion of the BBA program is good news for qualified UW students seeking admission to the program. With the program’s expansion, the acceptance rate for pre-business students climbed to about 70 percent from previous rates hovering between 50 to 60 percent, according to the business school website.

Schroeder said business school officials expressed confidence the increased acceptance rate will not affect the school’s prestige.

“The fact that we’re admitting more students does not mean that we have lowered our admission standards at all,” he said. “This campus has so many qualified students, that the fact that we’re able to admit more of them I think is only going to help increase our reputation around the world.”  

Admission rates will also rise for direct admit students, or exceptionally qualified high school seniors who are invited to apply to the program. Schroeder said the quota will increase from 100 to 120 students next year.

For transfer students, Schroeder said he assumes acceptance will also rise, but clarified that the school does not set a specific quota regarding transfer and pre-business students.

As part of the expansion process, the business school hired 23 new faculty members in the last two years, according to the UW website. To help fund new faculty and program expansion, 35 percent of new funds come from private donors, Schroeder said.

“We’re very fortunate to have very successful alumni who want to give back to ensure that future students will have the same experience if not a better experience than they even had,” Schroeder said.