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Choose Houston

Houston skyline illustration

The sight is quintessential Houston. Scrawled on the overpass over a teeming freeway, a set of giant handwritten letters urge all who pass through: BE SOMEONE.

Those two words also happen to be shorthand for why the culture of this port city has become an influential tool for serious students of business.

As the world economy depends more and more on new skills and ideas, where business students study is a key aspect of which school they choose. A Houston MBA degree – earned in the fourth largest city in the U.S., a magnet for entrepreneurs and gateway to a 21st century Silk Road – means access to a range of business experiences that may be unique in America.

Houston’s work-friendly culture is ideal for MBA degree holders.

First, Houston’s culture revolves around jobs. Large, small and nascent companies gravitate here for the city’s business-above-all environment. The most obvious lure is Texas’ lack of a state income tax, which allows companies more freedom to hire and invest in growth. Secondly, Houston is distinct in being the only major American city with no zoning laws. This policy, or rather lack of one, makes for the city’s signature landscape of tiny bungalows side-by-side with towering apartment buildings — and also creates fertile ground for businesses to sprout anywhere an entrepreneur’s imagination may roam.

The average cost of living in Houston is 25.8 percent lower than that of other major U.S cities.

Third in Houston’s trifecta of business attractions: affordability. The average cost of living here is 25.8 percent below the average for the country’s 20 most-populated cities, the Council for Community and Economic Research reported in 2019. In  2017, Forbes ranked Houston second among cities where a paycheck will go furthest. The lower cost of living means fewer distractions for Houston MBA students, a seductive quality of life that turns sojourners into residents and a safer setting in which to launch a new business and hire new workers.

Graduate into a pro-business ecosystem with a Houston MBA degree.

This pro-business ecosystem means that most graduating MBAs need look no further to use their Houston MBA degrees. While for decades the city’s fame hinged on petroleum, the 1980s oil crash prompted diversification. Twenty Fortune 500 companies now operate and recruit from Houston, and the city boasts the world's largest medical complex. Startup founders, meanwhile, can dive into a community where 400 of every 100,000 residents starts a business every month.

Join a built-in pool of business talent.

Rice Business actively enriches this climate, helping its MBA graduates with ongoing guidance and opportunity. Rice Business’ Owlspeak, part of a network of startup accelerators, launched 22 new businesses in the past six years, while the Rice Business Plan Competition generated almost almost $2 million in prizes last year. Rice has also pledged as much as $100 million to an ambitious complex housed in the vintage Midtown Sears building, dubbed The Ion, to convene scholars, companies and startups to support new businesses.

Power source: America’s most ethnically diverse city.

And in an era when human capital — ideas, practices and inventions — is the most critical resource of all, Houston enjoys a major power source. It is the most ethnically diverse city in the country. This is an asset crucial to 21st-century business, which must prioritize adaptability to new skills and technology to thrive, notes the personal finance site WalletHub.

Houstonians know — and teach each other — how to thrive. It’s a city where more than 46 percent of minority-owned businesses posted at least half a million dollars in annual revenue last year. It’s a leading destination for refugees from around the country, who choose Houston for their new beginning. And it’s a city whose business community openly values the drive and innovation that its foreign-born residents bring the economy.

Use your MBA degree in a city where you can BE SOMEONE.

Houston is rich territory for workers with MBA degrees who are eager to put their ideas into action. It’s a city where old-time wildcatters can speak fluent Spanish, where leaders of both political parties reflexively support each other in crisis, where the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city

extols the power of Southern charm and the will to work together. It’s a city where every few years, when some naysayer vandalizes the public reminder to BE SOMEONE, someone else climbs up and paints it right back.

Learn more about life in Houston


Interested in learning more about the MBA programs offered by Rice Business? Send us an email at ricemba@rice.edu.