Business major open to freshmen at UWT

Staff writerDecember 26, 2013 

Freshmen who fancy a four-year major in business at the Milgard School may now enroll.

Previously, freshmen at the University of Washington Tacoma who eyed the undergraduate major were asked to wait until their second year to apply, and if accepted to the Milgard School of Business, they would enter as juniors.

In the fall of 2014, that changes — and the school has hired a recruiter to spread the news to South Sound high school students.

Meanwhile, the Milgard School will host a “Freshman Direct Preview Day” for high school students and parents on Jan. 4 from 1-3 p.m. at the Jane Russell Commons.

The university began admitting freshmen to a four-year degree program in 2006, and those interested in a business degree would apply after two years.

Milgard Dean Shahrokh Saudagaran said this week that “there was a sense of uncertainty. Would they be accepted to the school? If not, they would either change their major or change schools.”

With the new model, he said, “we are now reaching out to 37 high schools in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties.”

“There are students who were not looking at UWT, who wanted into business from Day One,” he said. “We were definitely losing those in the South Sound, and maybe in the state.”

According to the Institute of Educational Services, undergraduate business degrees have been the most popular among college students in 2000, 2005 and 2010.

“They know what they want, and they want to do it from Day One,” Saudagaran said.

Nearly a decade ago, the University of Washington Seattle Foster School of Business began offering placement for freshmen. Some 25 students entered that first year, and this fall the school accepted 200 into the program.

Saudagaran notes that undergraduate classes will be taught by faculty members, not, as is often the case at larger schools, by graduate students. He also points to what he calls the “value proposition” of the program, with the costs far below those of other Puget Sound-area universities that offer undergraduate business degrees.

“This provides bright and focused students a chance to get a business degree in the South Sound without taking on a mountain of debt,” he said.

Although not all freshmen who apply for a business major will be accepted, they will have a chance to re-apply during their sophomore year.

“We’re hoping to admit 25 students in the first class,” Saudagaran said. “It could be more.”

At the Foster School, he said, 400 applicants sought a place in the most recent freshman class, with only half gaining admission.

Along with the certainty of knowing they can matriculate through the program, entering freshmen will also have the advantage of being a part of the school’s community activities and clubs.

“It will be a much better experience,” Saudagaran said. “We had the sense that the time was right.”

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 c.r.roberts@

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