Does Your Undergraduate B-School Matter?

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on June 11, 2008

Peter von Loesecke, the CEO of The MBA Tour, answers that question with an emphatic yes, especially for MBA applicants with little work experience:

Some students have asked us whether business school admissions consider the ‘prestige’ of the undergraduate institution. Yes it is true that academic credentials will be considered along with the competitiveness of an undergraduate institution especially if a candidate does not have any work experience. Years ago, graduate admissions had a process for normalizing grade point averages from undergraduate transcripts. I don’t believe business school admissions committees still do this.

Nevertheless, it is only logical when business schools consider a candidate who has little or no work experience they look at the competitiveness of the undergraduate program from which the candidate graduated. If the school is highly competitive, and the major or concentration of the candidate is relevant to business school, then that candidate will have an edge. What criteria schools use to assess the competitiveness of a candidate is probably not uniform. My best advice is to ask the school directly.

By the way, this question popped up on MBA Networking, the MBA Tour's exceedingly popular group on Facebook. Members of the group raise questions like this all the time, and once a month the group declares one question a "hot topic" and posts an answer, like Peter von Loesecke's comment above.

I'm not sure exactly how someone goes about measuring "prestige" in an undergraduate business program, but (shameless plug warning) BW has been ranking these programs for some time now. At last count we had nearly 100 programs on our list. Anyone who is interested, can find them on our web site (http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/rankings/).

Reader Comments

nvycish

June 18, 2008 5:44 AM

I think it's ignorant for schools to ignore the prestige of the undergrad institution. Barring financial concerns, which affect a small % of students, colleges are well ranked throughout the US. It is clear Princeton is a more prestigious school than say Rutgers. Furthermore, the caliber of the student's academic performance in high school and within the college itself should place the student higher if the student attended a prestigiously ranked school. B schools all have undergraduate counterpart institutions, and thus to say that no such comparison at the undergraduate level can be made is foolish, for B school AdComs are obsessed with their own "rankings".

Louis

June 18, 2008 3:55 PM

Hi Nvycish, and thanks for weighing in. Just to clarify, I wasn't saying that making comparisons between undergraduate business programs is impossible--as the editor who oversees BW's rankings of undergraduate b-schools, I'd have to be a hypocrite to say something like that. I was just suggesting that prestige can be a little hard to pin down with any kind of accuracy for the purpose of admissions--is Wharton's undergrad business program 112% more prestigious the University of Illinois? 14% 212% Who knows? I also think there's a big difference between "prestige" (reputation) and "quality," which measures things like satisfaction, post-degree outcomes, etc. But the two terms are sometimes used interchangably. Interesting fact: Prestige actually comes from the Latin word that means "a conjurer's trick," which is a pretty good way of thinking of it.

Louis Lavelle, Associate Editor, BusinessWeek

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