Intro: Ranking of the Top Rated Best Undergraduate Business School

The business world moves fast. This speed is not just due to the frenzy of transactions and revenue streams but also emerging technologies and methodologies. The best undergraduate business schools are suited for moving at this pace.

Students that are driven to equip themselves with the necessary tools for a meaningful career need a strong undergraduate business school experience. In your search for top ranked undergraduate business schools, you may be wondering how certain schools reached such standards and what differences exist among these schools.

In this article, we’ll provide a “how-to” guide for understanding undergraduate business school rankings and the resources available to those seeking top undergraduate business schools. Hopefully, this overview will assist you in clarifying any uncertainties or questions you may have regarding choosing the business school that is best for you.

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Earning Potential

The truth is simple: students are largely driven to the best undergraduate business schools in an effort to earn more.

It’s no coincidence that top ranked undergraduate business schools produce professionals that consistently out-earn their peers.

Some students have the complimentary goal of social change and sustainable business practices. However, the nearly universal characteristic among students at the best undergraduate business schools is a drive for wealth.

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Image Source: University of Pennsylvania

Begin you search by using resources and statistics which illustrate a likely earning potential after graduation. Many of the best undergraduate business schools provide this information as they know it speaks to the interest of their undergraduate demographic.

If your primary goal is a high starting salary, remember that the best undergrad business schools shouldn’t be measured by public respect but rather the statistics for the average salary upon graduating.

Top business undergraduate schools, as ranked by their average starting salary, offer the best long-term payoff. Consult the following list from businessinsider.com before deciding which of the top undergrad business schools you wish to attend:

  • $70,000  University of Pennsylvania, Wharton
  • $65,000  MIT, Sloan
  • $64,500  Carnegie Mellon, Tepper
  • $60,000  University of Virginia, McIntire
  • $60,000  University of Michigan, Ross
  • $60,000  Georgetown, McDonough
  • $60,000  NYU, Stern
  • $58,000  UC Berkeley, Haas
  • $58,000  Washington University, Olin
  • $57,000  University of Alabama, Culverhouse

By choosing from the best undergrad business schools by starting salary, you’ll be setting a precedent for the entirety of your career.

Many business school undergraduate rankings take this metric into account when compositing the scores.

The most critical aspect in finding the best undergraduate business school for you is to remember that the value is only realized when you complete the program. Attending one of the top undergraduate business schools means nothing if you don’t have the resolve to see it through to the end.

The statistics, as reported by U.S. News & World Report, support this claim. Author Brian Burnsed explains, “Those with bachelor's degrees, no matter the field, earn vastly more than counterparts with some college ($1.55 million in lifetime earnings) or a high school diploma ($1.30 million lifetime), indicating that no matter the level of attainment or the field of study, simply earning a four-year degree is often integral to financial success later in life.”

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Learn the Methodology Behind Undergraduate Business School Rankings

There are many published undergraduate business school rankings. The important fact is this: they all work differently. One list may deem Wharton as one of the best business undergraduate schools while another claims that the best undergraduate business schools are institutions like Notre Dame and MIT.

Research the methodology that different entities use in their undergraduate business school rankings. Then, select the one that is most in line with your interests and goals. A ranking of undergraduate business schools based on factors like adoption of technology or professors’ publications will have little meaning to a student looking for premium job placement after graduation.

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Image Source: University of Virginia

Consider starting with Fortune’s ranking profile. It uses a constellation of factors to determine the best business undergraduate schools. Its method is a composite of the top ranked undergraduate business schools from U.S. News & World Report as well as Businessweek.

However, Fortune takes its process one step further. It includes the schools’ overall ranking as reported by U.S. News & World Report.

This allows students to understand what programs are offered at the best undergraduate business schools while also accounting for the value they want in the other non-business courses.

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Image Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Killian Court

Many of the best undergraduate business schools’ lists include heavy data from survey respondents. Consider how many respondents form the data.

A small number is statistically insignificant. Equally important to top undergrad business schools is the demographic of those responding to the undergraduate business school rankings.

If future job prospects are driving your decision, consider lending more credence to the top business undergraduate schools as reported by companies and working executives:

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Go Directly to the Source

There is no better way to assess the value of a top business school than by speaking directly with the faculty, staff, and, most critically, those who’ve graduated from the program.

Once you’ve refined your list of top undergraduate business schools to a manageable few, consider visiting the campuses and engaging in longer conversations with current undergrads. In minutes, you’ll hopefully understand if the program is a fit for you.

In many cases, arranged visits resemble a marketing package, pushing the school as one of the top ranked undergraduate business schools out there.

There are slideshows, brochures, tours, and a careful script. However, to really understand the viability of the program, you must go off script. The best business undergraduate schools may not always look the best at first glance.

Undergraduate business school rankings can be skewed. Many of the top business schools understand what specific metrics land them in their place on any given undergraduate business school ranking. John Byrne is a man who knows a lot about this. He is credited with creating one of the first undergraduate business school ranking lists in 1988. He served as the editor of both Businessweek and Fast Company.

In regard to starting these rankings, he remarks, “I'm the first to admit I created a monster, and the monster is uncontrollable.” Clearly, the system of measuring the best undergraduate business schools has gotten out of hand.

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Image Source: John Byrne on Business School Rankings

He continues, “I think that there are a lot of great schools…who deliver high quality information and yet do it under the radar because what rankings have done is put such a focus on 100 schools and it’s almost as if the other schools don’t exist.”

Byrne posits that the problem with top undergraduate business schools’ rankings is that they ignore the simple fact that the underlying education is commoditized. All the programs, even the best undergraduate business schools, essentially cover the same material (e.g., accounting, finance, organizational behavior, etc.). Business school undergraduate rankings are subjective by nature.

Finally, he concludes that today’s practice of identifying top undergrad business schools has evolved into something that, in some cases, is useless: “Most of the methodologies are flawed, they’re imperfect, they’re even intellectually dishonest.” For this reason, you must cut through the data in the ranking of undergraduate business schools and speak directly with those in the programs. This will enable you to devise your own undergraduate business school rankings based on your questions rather than those of the publications.

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Review the Curriculum and Professors

The best business undergraduate schools can differ greatly by curriculum. Reviewing the actual course requirements and the professors involved will equip you with the information necessary to decide which undergraduate business school rankings are the most in tune with your focus.

There are many great online resources. In all cases, you can get this information directly from the schools. Other undergraduate business school rankings, like startclass.com, offer relatively comprehensive data on varying institutions.

The analytics provided regarding top undergraduate business schools are valuable because you can decide from which vantage point you view the data. This ranking of undergraduate business schools includes data like tuition and average starting salary.

These numbers are important. Any student interested in a particular program wants to know how long it will take to earn back the investment. To an extent, you can use the data at startclass.com to formulate your own undergraduate business school ranking.

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Image Source: Start Class Homepage

The curriculum is only as strong as its professors. Some of the best undergraduate business schools have earned their reputation because of the strength of their professors. Not all of the top undergraduate business schools weigh this information the same way.

Consider the resource ratemyprofessor.com. This gives you a direct line into what the experiences of previous students reveal about the teaching quality of a particular professor. Your professors will have the single largest impact on your undergraduate experience. The best business undergraduate schools foster a strong relationship between the professor and student.

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Image Source: Rate My Professor Homepage

For a more in-depth look at the best professors, take a look at some of the information on poetsandquants.com. This is an excellent supplement to any undergraduate business school ranking. The careful review of the professors and the aspects of their job where they excel provide more identity to an otherwise monolithic institution.

The best business undergraduate schools got to where they are today because of their professors. Fortune.com has also written on this subject. The biographies of the most sought-after professors underscore the value each brings to the classroom.

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Image Source: Poets and Quants Homepage



Working Backwards

The aspiration to attend one of the best undergraduate business schools often originates with a specific career goal. Instead of starting your process at the collegiate level, consider starting at the end and reverse engineering your way into the best place to start. Get in touch with people working in the field you want to join. Let them see the undergraduate business school rankings.

They will be able to tell you from experience how accurately the lists represent their experience.

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for this kind of research. Don’t be shy about contacting people directly. You’ll find that many are honored and are flattered that you are seeking their input. These professionals can explain to what degree their academic career drove their current success.

They can also help you determine if it’s connected to what you see on undergraduate business school rankings or if it’s tied to other, less measured factors.

The best undergraduate business schools for the individual are often obscured by larger, more recognized players. For this reason, undergraduate business school rankings ignore the personal, even nuanced, attributes that are best for you. The ranking of undergraduate business schools is sometimes driven by a political or even marketing agenda.

Top ranked undergraduate business schools often have a public relations advantage by using writers to help push the institution up on business school undergraduate rankings. If you enroll in a top business undergraduate school simply for the prestige of its placement on a business school undergraduate ranking, then you may be disappointed in the long run.

Remember, once you’ve done the research and reviewed all the options, you’ll learn that there is no one more qualified to generate a business school undergraduate ranking than yourself.

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