It today’s competitive job market, a degree from an elite institution is not enough to launch a career.

In the Wall Street Journal, Melissa Korn takes a look at an intense business-skill program designed to give eager students an edge:

For a college student, Reid McCann had an enviable résumé: a statistics major at Harvard University, he played varsity football and won awards for his volunteerism. During summers and before starting college, he worked at Northwestern Mutual, Morgan Stanley MS +0.27% and other top financial firms.

But heading into summer-internship interviews with private-equity and consulting companies last year, the Dallas native was anxious about how he would stack up against students with business majors. So, he signed up for a four-week business boot camp, or so-called bridge program, run through Fullbridge Program to cram in finance lessons and prepare for corporate life.

Mr. McCann, now 22 years old and a senior, aced the interviews and landed a summer job at private-equity firm Audax Group in Boston, where he’ll start a full-time job after graduation this spring. The intense training in financial modeling put him on par with applicants who had business undergraduate degrees, he says, while the tips on keeping emails professional helped him throughout his summer internship.

Amid a brutal job market for graduates and growing concern that a liberal-arts education may not translate into real-world success, even accomplished students like Mr. McCann are desperate for any potential edge. Though schools have beefed up their career services in recent years, students still fear they lack the practical skills they’ll need after graduation, such as deciphering a balance sheet or leading colleagues on a project.

So-called bridge programs, which offer liberal-arts majors crash courses on business skills, war stories from executives and nuts-and-bolts tips to make it in the corporate world, have existed at a number top business schools for some years. The pricey programs—which often cost between $5,000 and $10,000 for a few weeks of training—boast faculty rosters similar to those that M.B.A.s might encounter. And with job jitters hitting new highs among college students, the market for such programs is heating up.

…Participants spend their days in role-playing exercises, reading case studies and hashing out financial calculations. Instruction comes via live presentations and taped sessions from well-known professors, though much of the class time is spent with “coaches,” usually business students in their late 20s who facilitate the classes with one-on-one assistance.

The Fullbridge program costs $5,750 and another $1,450 for optional housing—hardly cheap, but for many, just part of the parental costs for test preparation, tutoring and college tuition.