B-School Life

Best Undergraduate Business Schools 2014: How We Ranked The Schools


This year, 152 undergraduate business schools participated in our rankings. During the ranking process, we eliminated 20 schools that didn’t meet our requirements for inclusion: Either too few students responded to our student survey (13 schools), too few employers mentioned a school in our employer survey (six schools), or a school was unable to provide required data (one school).

To rank the 132 programs that are included on our 2014 list, Bloomberg Businessweek used a methodology that has not changed much since our first ranking of undergrad programs in 2006. Our ranking algorithm included five components:

Student assessment (30 percent of total score): In November 2013, in collaboration with Cambria Consulting, we sent surveys to 91,603 graduating seniors at participating schools. Of those, 28,842 students, or 31.5 percent, submitted responses. The survey included 44 questions about teaching quality, access to faculty, school facilities, career services, and more. Each question recorded responses on a five-point scale.

We determined a school’s student assessment score by calculating the average response to each question among a school’s respondents and then averaging all question averages.

Then we created a measure that took into account scores from the two previous rankings. The 2014 student responses accounted for 50 percent of the student assessment score; student surveys from 2012 and 2013 accounted for 25 percent each. For schools that were not ranked in 2012 or 2013, we used estimates calculated by a team of statisticians.

This year, to reflect best practices in survey data analysis, we discontinued a weighting practice we used in prior rankings. This practice put more weight on questions that recorded a wider spread of responses. The use of unweighted student survey scores caused some schools’ student scores to rise, and it caused other schools’ scores to fall. For the vast majority of schools, the switch to unweighted scores did not seriously affect their rank.

Academic quality (30 percent of total score): We use five metrics to award schools points for academic quality:

1. Average SAT score for the most recent entering class (reported by the school)
2. Ratio of full-time students to full-time faculty (reported by the school)
3. Average class size in core classes (reported by the school)
4. Percentage of students with business-related internships (reported by the students)
5. Average number of hours students spend preparing for class per week (reported by the students)

If schools reported only average ACT scores, we converted ACT scores into SAT scores on a 1600-point scale, using guidelines published by ACT and the College Board. For each of the five metrics, schools were awarded points based on their quintile on a scale of five points for being in the top quintile down to one point for being in the bottom. The final AQ score is the sum of each of the five scores.

Employer opinion (20 percent of total score): Bloomberg Businessweek and Cambria Consulting contacted 922 employers and asked them to tell us which programs produce the best graduates. We heard back from 301 employers, or 32.6 percent. Each employer listed all schools at which they have recruited or attempted to recruit business undergraduates in the last five years. From that list of schools, each employer then ranked up to 20 schools according to their opinion of the quality of their graduates. Schools received points for being ranked by employers—more points for being ranked more highly. Those points were then weighted by the proportion of employers who recruited at a school that ranked a school in the top 20 and by the number of actual hires of undergraduate business students an employer made in 2012 and 2013. The more undergraduate business majors an employer hired, the more its ranking points counted for schools.

Finally, a school’s points were docked if the number of employers who said they had recruited at the school was below the median number for all schools. This year’s median (drawing from 2012, 2013, and 2014 data) was 15.8 out of 301 employers, so any school with fewer than 15.8 mentions saw their points docked according to how far below the median they fell. This modification ensured that schools that got only a few highly positive mentions did not have an advantage over schools that were mentioned many times.

Like the student survey, the results of the 2014 employer survey were combined with the results of the employer surveys from 2012 and 2013 to calculate a 2014 employer survey score for each school. The 2014 survey supplied 50 percent of the score; the two previous surveys supplied 25 percent each. Schools not ranked in 2012 and/or 2013 received the minimum employer score from each year.

Median salary (10 percent of total score): Each school reported the median starting salary for its most recent graduating class for which data were available.

Feeder school (10 percent of total score): Using the 2008, 2010, and 2012 surveys of recent MBA graduates that we use for our ranking of full-time MBA programs, we created a “feeder school” measure to show which schools send the most grads to the top MBA programs (adjusted for the size of each undergraduate program’s graduating class).

Scores for each of the five components were standardized using each score’s mean and standard deviation. Scores were then added and weighted to reflect our rankings algorithm. Each school’s ranking index score was calculated by dividing its weighted sum by the best school’s weighted sum and then multiplying by 100. Index scores show the difference in measurement between schools better than rankings do.  For example, the difference between a school with an index number of 91 and a school with an index number of 90 is small. However, the difference between two programs with index numbers of 91 and 83 is substantial. In either case, however, the schools might be separated by only one ranking place.

Finally, a note to prospective students: Don’t let rankings alone make your school decision for you. Our rankings and school profiles offer a thorough picture of the current landscape of undergraduate business schools, but deciding where to go to school is a very personal decision. A school that is right for one student may be wrong for another.

We welcome your feedback about our rankings methodology. Please send your comments to rfeedback@bloomberg.net.

 

Jonathan Rodkin is the rankings and research coordinator for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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