Business: NUS vs. NTU vs. SMU in a nutshell

Update: This year (2016), my new post answers more about the curriculum.

Having helped out at the NUS open day for the second time today, I looked back at my decision then. Did I regret choosing NUS Business? For all the past BBA prospects events (including this) that I have been to as a student ambassador, I have been asked the same questions over and over again. My stand will not change. I gave the same answers.

Generally, there are three types of prospects for business course.

1) Decided on Business/BBA or Accountancy, but unsure of which school to choose

The number one question mostly comes from this group of prospects for obvious reasons. They generally performed relatively well to be confident of securing a slot in one of the schools. When more choices are open to you, who wouldn’t consider them all carefully? Who wouldn’t want to make the best choice, which is more or less the “best school”. They want to know which school is the best, which school’s degree is valued the most, which school’s graduates has a higher employment rate and starting pay. They don’t want to make the “wrong choice”.

GUYS, CHILL. I can give you an answer right now, and it has nothing to do with the curriculum, the future prospects or the university rankings. The answer is, IT DOES NOT MATTER!

Honestly come on, let’s not cheat ourselves. Please take a look at these three surveys.


Let’s just compare BBA (Hons). All three schools’ graduates have overall employment rate of more than 90%, with SMU’s starting pay generally higher than the rest.

So you can safely make your choice now, pick SMU because you will then earn more than your other counterparts! Why aren’t you choosing SMU then? Something must be holding you back. You value the campus environment. You value the learning dynamics. You value the relationships that you will forge. The list goes on…

You ask about the learning environment, the curriculum. You ask if NTU offers more, if NUS is more “general”, or if SMU offers the best curriculum. I don’t think there is anyone in this world who took the full course in ALL three schools. That is to say, no one in this world can give you an accurate answer as to which school offers the best curriculum. Looking at facts, graduates from all three schools will be competing for the same jobs and companies obviously will hire graduates from all three schools. That shows that the content you learn in all three schools will very much be similar. You are worried that one school might not teach certain things and you lose out. But do you not know that each school teaches things that the others do not?

You go to NTU open house and the ambassador tells you, “Nanyang Business has blah blah blah and NUS Business lacks this.” Don’t you think the ambassador in NUS open day will also tell you about the qualities of NUS? That said, we do not have enough information and experience to give an impartial judgement. As an NUS student, I will of course tell you about the qualities of NUS because that’s what I know the most. It will be unfair to the other schools however, if you just take words at face value. Branding is important, but if the product is very much similar, I think you can safely purchase any of them. Tell me, is Colgate or Darlie better for your teeth? Frankly, I don’t really care, no I meant I don’t care at all, I just use.

As much as there are employers who prefer NUS graduates, there will be those who prefer NTU and those who prefer SMU graduates. University is totally different from JC. You want this job? Show me what you have more than grades and degree. The branding of the degree is important if you are comparing among many universities. But Singapore… no point man, no point. You won’t be telling your employer all that you have got out of 4 years is a first class honours from NUS and expect to get hired. Your other achievements and experiences weighs a larger portion, not to mention your personality.

Does that quell your anxiety?

It all comes down to you as an individual. Sure, each school has its own strengths and will be able to develop you, but your success lies in you, not the school. Your future lies in your hands, not dictated by the school. You make your choice, not because what the school can offer you, but what you hope to get out of entering the school’s curriculum and environment.

For me, easy. I want a conventional campus and somewhere near my house. NUS it is, period. I make the best out of what NUS Business offers me. Did I regret? No I did not. If given a chance to make a choice again, I will still choose NUS. The student life experiences were just awesome.

BBA (Accountancy) vs. Accountancy degree

Perhaps I’m not the best person to talk about this as I don’t have the technical knowledge on accounting related prospects. However, NUS BBA (Accountancy) graduates and accountancy degree graduates compete for the same jobs in general. So what do you say? Not much difference lah huh…

2) Indecisive about BBA  (Double Major, Double Degree, and other concerns)

These group of prospects can range from racking their minds over Economics or Business to Double Major or Double Degree.

Hello guys, have you decided what you want to do in the future? Most likely not right? Otherwise you would not be pulling out your hair making such a life changing decision.

For those who are considering DDP or other special programs (and having no direction), just admit you are greedy. You have the grades and you can make it to the top programs. You think that by taking these extra programs, they add value to your degree and you have more jobs options. You are right, your degree is value-added and you have more career options. You are taking a safe and smart choice. But is this necessary? Only you can answer that yourself. By all means you can try and drop at a later time, but please do plan your modules for retreat in case you decide to drop.

BBA a general degree? So isn’t it losing out in competitive advantage? Yes, it does. But there is something called specialization. Specialization is the competitive advantage of your degree over a general one. For example, BBA (Finance) is a BBA degree specialized in Finance. Then again, a general degree has its advantages too. You have more options! The point is that you don’t have to weigh the pros and cons so much. First, go for interest. Second, go for practicality. Last, it doesn’t matter, make the best out of it.

Double specialization is not to be confused with Double Major. If I’m double specializing in Marketing and Management, then my degree will reflect BBA (Mkt & Mgmt). A Double Major means taking a major outside of your discipline (in this case outside Business). This means something like Economics from FASS, but you will only be awarded one degree which is BBA. It is legit enough to say I major in Business, or major/specialize in Marketing (Business obviously) but not legit to say I double major in Supply Chain and Management. A double degree is quite clear cut I believe. The name tells you that you will be awarded two degrees at the end of the day, for example BBA and BA (Economics). This also means that you will be feeling the full extent of the wrath of an Arts degree. However, you only need to take modules relating to economics/to complete your major if you are doing double major instead. Hope this information clarifies much of your doubts.

3) Unsure of securing a place

If you are just trying your luck, just do it, but please put a safe choice as your second choice. That’s all and hope for the best. If you die die want to take business course, the doors to other institutions are always open. Face it, grades are required to enter university. No point sulking over something that you have already done and foreseen.

At the end of the day, it is not so much about which school is the best. Make your decisions more than just paper value, and make the best out of your decisions. No regrets. You shape your own future. All the best!


Update: This year (2016), my new post answers more about the curriculum.


6 thoughts on “Business: NUS vs. NTU vs. SMU in a nutshell

  1. your review and sharing of personal experience is just awesome. a well-informed decision maker. if I am able to make it to NUs in the future, I will definitely want to meet up and learn from you. best wishes and thanks for taking your time to bring a closer look. we always need more of this !

  2. Pingback: Entering NUS Business School? | The Mystery Cross

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