Ranking Methodology

How We Ranked the Schools


How We Ranked the Schools

Photograph by Getty Images

To identify the top undergraduate business programs, Bloomberg Businessweek uses a methodology that includes nine measures of student satisfaction, post-graduation outcomes, and academic quality.

This year we started with 142 programs that were eligible for ranking, including virtually all of the schools from our 2011 ranking plus four new schools that met our requirements. In November, with the help of Cambria Consulting in Boston, we asked more than 86,000 graduating seniors at those schools to complete a 50-question survey on everything from the quality of teaching to recreational facilities. Overall, 28,060 students responded to the survey, a response rate of 32 percent.

The results of the 2012 student survey were then combined with the results of two previous student surveys, from 2010 and 2011, to arrive at a student survey score for each school. The 2012 survey supplies 50 percent of the score; the two previous surveys supply 25 percent each.

In addition to surveying students, Bloomberg Businessweek polled 749 corporate recruiters for companies that hire thousands of business majors each year. We asked them to tell us which programs turn out the best graduates and which schools have the most innovative curricula and most effective career services. In the end, 257 employers responded, a response rate of about 34 percent.

The results of the 2012 employer survey were then combined with the results of two previous employer surveys, from 2010 and 2011, to calculate an employer survey score for each school. The 2012 survey supplies 50 percent of the score; the two previous surveys supply 25 percent each.

We then made one final adjustment. To qualify for ranking, a school must have a minimum number of employers indicating a familiarity with the program. In past years we found that some schools barely met this cutoff, but that employers who were familiar with them rated them very highly, skewing our results. To account for this, we adjusted the combined employer survey results. When the number of employers indicating a familiarity with a program was less than the median of all schools in the ranking, the employer survey score was reduced proportionately. The result: Employer survey results are no longer skewed in favor of programs with a limited, but highly enthusiastic, cadre of recruiters.

To learn which schools’ students land the best-paying jobs, we asked each institution to tell us the median starting salary for their most recent graduating class. In addition, we drew on our 2006, 2008, and 2010 MBA surveys to create a “feeder school” measure showing which schools send the most grads to the 35 top MBA programs identified in previous Bloomberg Businessweek rankings.

Finally, we created an academic quality gauge of five equally weighted measures. From the schools themselves, we obtained average SAT scores, the ratio of full-time students to faculty, and average class size. The 2012 student survey supplied the percentage of business majors with internships and the hours students spend every week on schoolwork.

Before determining the final ranking, we first had to review each school’s response rate on the 2012 student and recruiter surveys. Of the 142 programs eligible for ranking, a total of 18 were eliminated. Four were eliminated due to low response rates on the student survey: Ball State University, East Tennessee State University, Salisbury University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Seven schools were cut for low response rates on the employer survey: Belmont University, Clarkson University, Ohio Northern University, Samford University, University of South Florida, University of Vermont, and University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. An additional seven schools were eliminated because of low response rates on both surveys: Creighton University, Iona College, State University of New York at Geneseo, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, University of Massachusetts at Boston, University of Michigan-Flint, and University of the Pacific.

For the 124 schools remaining, the student survey score counts for 30 percent of the final ranking, with the recruiter survey score contributing 20 percent. Starting salaries and the MBA feeder school measure contribute 10 percent each. The academic quality measure supplies the remaining 30 percent.

Louis_lavelle
Lavelle is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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