The Carlson School is part of the public university located in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St Paul, operating from two buildings on the university’s main campus, west of the River Mississippi.
Its history follows a trajectory common among US business schools. Founded in 1919, it experienced five changes of both name and location up to 1986 when it was renamed following a $25 million donation from alumnus Curtis L Carlson, a hotelier, At the time it was the the largest gift to a public university.
It takes a strongly positive view of its subject area, in 2018 headlining "Business as a Force for Good" on the front page of its website. The requirement, since 2007, for all students including undergraduates, should undergo a "global learning experience" reflects its internationalist traditions and outlook.
Students were first offered study abroad options as long ago as 1989 and the Executive MBA programme is offered in China and Vienna as well as Minnesota. Four of its six most senior academics in 2018, including Dean Srilata Zaheer, are from – and took their undergraduate degrees in – India.
Carlson draws on its relationships with the rest of the university to offer eight dual degrees combining undergraduate study with an MBA. Subjects offered include law and pharmacy.
It also upholds older student traditions. The "Tomato Can Loving Cup Award" first made in 1929 no longer carries with it a place on the MBA, but is still given to the "undergraduate who performs the most significant service" to the school, while two Masters students sustained in 2018 the fading tradition of the authentic scholar-athlete by playing on the university’s American football team.