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College of Business Alumni

Popular, but Tough: Student Managed Portfolio Class Provides Exceptional Learning Opportunity Managing Real Money

Among students there is a class that is known to be demanding and rigorous, but provides exceptional hands on learning...all for one credit hour. Only the brave and serious apply.

The competitive Student Managed Portfolio class gives real-world experience to finance students interested in the area of investments and portfolio management. Students manage a portfolio of equity investments using real money provided by the NIU Foundation, with seed money generously provided by the Treasury Management Association of Chicago (TMAC). The class size is kept small to allow for participatory learning. Students must apply to be considered for the class, and they can enroll up to three times. Students meet twice a week to discuss buy/sell recommendations, portfolio performance, and current news pertaining to stocks and the equity markets. Students who are taking the class for a second or third time hold senior manager positions and have more extensive responsibilities than the new students (junior managers).

Over the past 10 years, the Student Managed Portfolio earned an average annual return of 9.15% versus the average annual return of 8.84% for the overall market (S&P 500). Student Managed Portfolio class professor, Dr. Gerald Jensen, says, "The portfolio's performance is impressive considering the market volatility over the period. I continue to see our students putting in significant effort, and our alumni enjoy getting involved by getting in the classroom to discuss investment strategy with the students."

The value of the course is witnessed by the fact that there is excess student demand, despite the fact that students earn just one credit hour. The class requires more work than the typical three credit hour course.

Current student, Samantha Salisbury, agrees and recommends the course to her peers. "The Student Managed Portfolio is a valuable class because it's a practical application class. Students have the opportunity to take what they learned in their finance courses and apply it. We perform benchmarking analysis and SWOT analysis to evaluate companies we are considering adding to our portfolio. Students also have the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Jensen who serves as a wealth of knowledge. Although it may seem like a tough class for only one credit hour, it certainly is worth it!"

For more information on how to get involved with the Student Managed Portfolio class, contact: Dr. Gerald Jensen at gjensen@niu.edu.