Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business to cap business majors at 550

From The Observer

In order to maintain students’ ability to pursue both business and non-business courses, the University will cap enrollment in the Mendoza College of Business to 550 students per graduating class, starting with incoming freshmen in fall 2015.

Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment Donald Bishop said the policy shift was due to concerns by the Admissions office and the administrations of the Colleges that “evidence of potential growth” in the number of business major intents could shut out non-business students from business courses.

Under the current policy, there is no limit to the number of students who can become business majors at any point after their sophomore year. But under the new policy, students intending to major in business must apply for “pre-approval” through the Admissions office to enroll in the business school at the end of their first years, Bishop said.

Those who are not pre-approved will be able to compete for a limited number of spots after the beginning of their sophomore year. This process will be open to students who transfer from other universities, who were previously not allowed to transfer into Mendoza, he said.

“The Notre Dame philosophy is we want all of our students to be as liberally educated as possible, which means some of our non-business majors taking business courses can be viewed as a strong good,” Bishop said. “To restrict those opportunities because of expected growth in business beyond traditional business class size — we think that’s a negative trade-off.”

Dean of the First Year of Studies and Vice President and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Rev. Hugh Page said capping enrollment will keep business class sizes small. This way non-business students can continue to take business classes.

“We’re ensuring … that we have both a way to provide educational opportunities for those who have early on identified business as their desired intent, and also sufficient seats for students at other colleges who would like to explore business or who have a supplementary business education in addition to the majors or minors that they have already declared,” Page said.

Dean of Mendoza Dr. Roger Huang said the enrollment cap will also allow faculty to maintain close relationships with students, as well as preserve cross-college programs such as the Science-Business major and the Business Economics minor.

“One half of our required credit hours are taken outside the business school,” Huang said. “If the business school grows to such a point that other schools are impacted, students won’t have the same choices. Even within the business school we’d like students to have not just one major.”

Bishop said the increasing demand for the business school, with  1,888 students enrolled in the 2011-2012 school year, could be due to misperceived  career options for the various undergraduate majors as a result of the 2008-2009 economic recession.

“What we’re seeing … is this student cohort that’s a little more determined to identify more specific career path planning, and to some degree that can be channeled in a very positive way, provided that they have the sophistication and the information to look at all their choices,” Bishop said. “We think that most high school seniors don’t have the access yet to the information they need to make career choices.”

To remedy this, Page said the admissions office and the First Year of Studies are working to provide more information to high school students and freshmen on the different paths to a career in business besides a business major.

“We want to map our more clearly students’ relationship with the University,” Page said. “We want to make information more clear and put a greater emphasis on mentoring, to discourage decisions out of fear.”