In a recent study published in the Wall Street Journal, prospective employers rated U.S. colleges and universities, as well as some select majors, on the basis of whose graduates were best prepared and most able to succeed. The finance program at Mays was recognized as 5th in the nation in this ranking.

The WSJ surveyed 479 large U.S. companies, non-profits and governmental agencies to arrive at the rankings, which listed Texas A&M University 2nd among all schools. The study revealed that top public institutions were generally favored over Ivy League and other private institutions.

“The Journal research represents a systematic effort to assess colleges by surveying employers’ recruiters — who decide where to seek out new hires — instead of relying primarily on measures such as student test scores, college admission rates or graduates’ starting salaries,” noted Jennifer Merritt, the WSJ reporter who wrote the page-one story. She said in the article that recruiters’ perceptions “matter all the more given that employers today are visiting fewer schools, particularly due to the weak economy.”

Mays finance department head Sorin Sorescu says that the Aggie reputation for discipline and ethical behavior is well deserved and that’s something that recruiters recognize. “Our students are trained with a sense that a job worth doing is worth doing right. Once they go out into the workplace, they are likely to succeed…There are certain qualities that this university instills in them that are hard to teach elsewhere.”

Sorescu notes that the crisis in the financial sector in the past few years has dramatically altered the employment landscape for finance graduates—making this recruiting metric more significant. “In the past two years the needs of the marketplace have changed to demand more specialized skills such as how to value companies…manage portfolios, and manage risk.” The Mays program has responded by tailoring the curriculum to adapt to the needs of the marketplace, including practical classes in financial modeling, fixed income, and active portfolio management.

Mays students have the opportunity for hands-on lessons through the Tanner Fund, a portfolio managed by students for class credit, as well as the Reliant Energy Trading Center, which provides access to analytical tools and volumes of real-time and historical financial data.

Practical experiences in the classroom and in internships, paired with unique specialized offerings such as the Trading, Risk and Investments Program, produce graduates that have a marked competitive advantage when job hunting. “It really makes sense from an employer’s perspective to hire somebody who is already trained. It minimizes the search costs on the front end, and it minimizes training costs. It reduces risk that you may have made an error in hiring,” Sorescu says.