Freeman School’s ‘hands-on’ classes give graduates an edge in business world

The top-ranked Freeman School of Business at Tulane University boasts an outstanding faculty noted for scholarship and teaching excellence. Through innovative offerings such as the nationally acclaimed Burkenroad Reports equities research program, the Trading Center, the Darwin Fenner Student Managed Fund, the Tulane Business Plan Competition and the Global MBA, Freeman combines rigorous academic grounding with practical real-world experience.
In January 2008, the Financial Times rated the Freeman School's finance program 10th best in the world, placing the school alongside such traditional finance powerhouses as New York University, the University of Chicago and the Wharton School. For a small program located far from Wall Street, the Top 10 ranking was a welcome sign of recognition.
According to the people who know the Freeman School's finance program best -- its professors, students, alumni and recruiters -- the school's size, location and wide variety of applied skills courses help better prepare students for success.
Students gain real-world experience by helping produce the Burkenroad Reports, investment research studies of small-cap companies. Since its inception 15 years ago, the Burkenroad Reports has done more to differentiate the Freeman School from its competitors than any other program. From its humble beginning with 24 students, the program has grown into a nationally acclaimed investment research program with more than 200 student analysts covering 40 small-cap companies in six states.  More than 400 graduates of the program have gone on to careers on Wall Street, and the annual Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference regularly attracts hundreds of investors eager to meet the management of companies highlighted by the student analysts.
Another major factor in the success of the Freeman School's finance program is the Trading Center, a $2.5 million simulated trading floor that serves as a hands-on laboratory for the teaching of energy companies trading, risk management, equities and options. The Energy Fundamentals & Trading class allows students to apply the theories they've learned. They develop and execute trading strategies involving energy companies “from drill bit to burner tip."
Thanks to applied programs like the Burkenroad Reports and the Trading Center, Freeman students have an edge over graduates of other business schools when it’s time to job hunt, especially in difficult economic times. Employers recognize that Freeman students can hit the ground running and contribute to a company right away.
"That real-world perspective allows students to get a better understanding of what the industry is about and what it has to offer them," says Ben Abramson, director of human resources and administrative services with Sequent Energy in Houston. "A lot of other universities don't give that hands-on perspective that Tulane does and that's an advantage for students."
Sequent is so bullish on the Freeman School that it sponsors an annual scholarship program and provides support for the Tulane Energy Institute. A big reason for that involvement is the practical experience students get through the Freeman School's energy-trading courses.
"Clearly students who have been exposed to the energy industry through Burkenroad Reports, the Tulane Energy Institute and energy-trading courses are a step ahead of other students," adds Douglas Schantz, former president of Sequent. "One of the reasons we established our relationship with the Freeman School is that we felt Freeman's graduates were especially well qualified to join our company and start contributing immediately. Hopefully, we'll be able to entice a few of those scholarship winners to come our way following graduation."
This article was excerpted from Freeman Magazine, Winter 2008.