Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University is a first-rate business school. Atkinson has been recognized as one of the best business schools in the Midwest/West region by U.S. News and World Report and featured in the Portland Business Journal. Forbes states it offers an excellent ROI, and Bloomberg Businessweek names the Atkinson MBA among the Best B Schools in the nation. It is only one of two graduate schools in the world accredited in both Business Administration by the AACSB and Public Administration through the NASPAA. The business programs were established in 1974 and named after George Atkinson, a construction industry businessman, who made a generous $3.4 million donation to the school. Today, Atkinson is the largest graduate business school in the state of Oregon.
The MBA is available in several formats to accommodate the needs of professionals at a wide range of career levels. Students who are seeking to switch careers or who are just entering the workforce can enroll in the Early Career and Career Change MBA, while students who already have an established business career can earn an MBA for Professionals. During their first year, all students will take PACE, Practical Applications for Careers and Enterprises. This transformative course consists of forming teams and brainstorming ideas to assist non-profits with various challenges during the fall, and actually implementing those ideas under the guidance of mentors in the spring. Due to the hands-on nature of this course, students gain great insights into the career path they are interested in pursuing.
Concentrations are available in Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Global Management, Human Resources, Management Sciences, and Quantitative Methods, Marketing, Operations, Analysis, and Systems, Organizational Analysis, and Public and Not-for-profit Management. The MBA for Professionals is a cohort of experienced students who meet for dinner and classes two evenings per week in either Portland or Salem. One major benefit of this program is students have the ability to take classes for life, so they can constantly stay up-to-date on the latest business practices and have a strong professional network.
Atkinson is home to just over 300 business students. An active chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma honor society is available for students who meet the rigorous criteria to participate. Students are encouraged to complete summer internships, to gain practical experience and apply their newly acquired business skills. Nearly all students take advantage of the wonderful internship opportunities. Students can receive class credit for up to three semesters of internship participation.
The Angel Fund is a venture group that gives students the power to make decisions about which investments to make. Students in the venture group will travel to conferences and meet with business executives throughout the Pacific Northwest. Over the past decade, this group has nearly doubled its money, and currently has money invested in 50 start-ups. Through the Philanthropic Investment for Community Impact, students help non-profits by providing grants. Since this program was founded four years ago, students have helped 25 organizations. Another experiential learning course is the Student Investment Fund. In this elective, students will manage the O’Neill Student Investment Fund valued at $500,000.