Business Schools With The ‘Best Campus Environment’

UCLA's Anderson School is ranked 17th among the best business schools in the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

According to Princeton Review, UCLA’s Anderson School has the best campus environment of any business school in the world

The stated mission of the Black & Scholes Surf Club at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management is simply “to have fun surfing together and make some good friends with our classmates.” For beginners, club outings generally target “mellow long boarding waves.” For experienced surfers, club excursions are scheduled on “swell arrivals” aimed at providing MBA students “a chance to surf Southern California’s most renowned waves at their best.”

It’s just one of those less than obvious but real advantages to the MBA program at UCLA which it turns out is the business school with the “best campus environment” in the world, according to the Princeton Review.

Don’t laugh. While most MBA applicants aren’t likely to pick a school on the basis of its safety, attractiveness or location–the attributes Princeton Review measures on student surveys to pick business schools with the best campus environment–it just might matter to some–especially if you want to be less than half an hour from a beach. “it can be a fun in the sun school to some extent,” an MBA student at Anderson told the Review, “but I spend a whole lot more time with formulas and (financial) models than i do with the surfboard.”

Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business & Management was one of six California schools to make the ‘best campus environment’ ranking.

Nonetheless, UCLA’s welcoming 419-acre campus, with its sculpture gardens, fountains, museums and proximity to Venice and Santa Monica beaches, has helped to give Anderson a first place ranking for the past five consecutive years. The business school complex is located on the original North Campus where many of the buildings are constructed of imported Italian brick. It’s a neighborhood where tourists are sold maps to help them discover the luxury homes of movie stars in Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, and Brentwood, the posh residential areas that border the campus. The weather doesn’t hurt, either. Just ask the students who stroll the campus in shorts and scandals during the winter and fall when their East Coast rivals are bundled up in heavy coats and gloves.

Every year, Princeton Review surveys MBA students at some 300 business schools and publishes a top ten list of the schools with the “best campus environment.” The Review ranks schools on the basis of student surveys that assess “the safety, attractiveness and location of the school,” though it does not reveal which questions on its survey are used for the ranking.


Questions on three key elements of the ranking are among the 78 multiple-choice questions and seven “free-response” questions asked of current full-time students. Princeton Review says that at least 10% of full-time students responded “at almost all institutions we surveyed; at many schools, we scored responses from as many as one-third or one-half of the student body–and nearly all in a few cases.”

  • stg3_h

    I currently go UCLA Anderson. I don’t know anybody at the school who surfs, does drugs, excessively drinks, etc. We all bust our tails, study hard, and most of us are trying very hard to recruit well for our career after B-school. The warm weather, the grass covered quad, etc. that you speak of is certainly not a distraction. Remember, this is a survey/ranking for business schools. We are all professionals who definitely earned our place at this school. The location and landscape is certainly very welcome and much better than most other schools. But please don’t compare your undergraduate experience at Claremont to UCLA’s business school.

  • fromage

    bolocks to that

    INSEAD: Fontainebleau is a dead village, no distractions, everything closed after 7pm, it’s a 1.5hr commute to Paris in a run-down and unsafe train. Really a downside.

    HEC: that’s in Jouy en Josas, not Paris, it’s far from everything. HEC is in the worst place to commute to Paris. Also its commute line (RER C) is one of the least safe on Parisian standards.

  • Claremont College Student

    Ah yes, the Claremont Colleges…

  • Campus Development

    Looking for a Business School with the ‘Best Campus Environment’ try the University of Western Australia. Adjacent to the Swan River and ten minutes from Cottesloe Beach on the Indian Ocean, the UWA Crawley Campus is among the most picturesque in the World with its grand sandstone and terracotta buildings sitting among elegant heritage-listed gardens.

  • goabroad

    For example: Oxford (dating back to year 1096), INSEAD (freely traveling between Fontainebleau forest in France to epicenter of Asia in Singapore), LBS (Regent’s Park and entire City of London at your door) and HEC (near Paris and Versailles)

  • truthhurts

    Yeah, but you’re talking about EMBA. For USC Marshall EMBA, GMAT/GRE is still optional. I understand that professional experience can be a more powerful and predictive indicator for success than a standardized test score. Although it might not be true in every case, most business schools see EMBA as a profit center. This is certainly the case for USC. Attracting EMBA students is highly competitive and is a business. Schools must offer incremental value proposition to capture premium-priced-tuition-paying students, such as catered services and resort-like (or an actual resort, in your case) campuses. However, some schools have lowered admission standards to boost the enrollment rate for the executive programs. As an alumnus of a WISH school, I regularly interview candidates. I’ve seen 27-29 y.o. with subpar academic profiles (undergrad pedigree, graduate education, GPA, GMAT, and even sometimes work experience) who were outright rejected for our regular MBA program getting into EMBA programs at prestigious schools.

    Nonetheless, as an experienced executive in both investment banking and strategy consulting, we generally don’t consider EMBAs and definitely do not give the same credit as we would for a regular MBA. Even though many companies would not articulate so to the public, it is so in reality. While I acknowledge that EMBA programs are increasingly competitive and comprehensive in their curriculum, I think the market consensus/attitude toward EMBA degree hasn’t progressed much.

  • Goabroad

    It is silly to declare any school to be the best in the world without actually looking at schools around the world. This list is entirely U.S.-centric. There are so many excellent non-U.S. schools with exceptional campus environment. How short sighted.

  • Guest

    Title correction: US Business Schools with the “Best Campus Environment”

  • SoCal Jon

    Because the USC main campus (Marshall) is one of the biggest dumps you could put a business school in. Doesn’t even compare to UCLA or Stanford. The only thing SC had going for them was a good football team, but now that they can’t cheat as freely they don’t even have that.

  • TrojanMBA

    I question the above ranking of Business schools with the best campus environment…I am a member of the EBMA Class of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Our campus is better know as the La Costa Resort and Spa. Located in “America’s Finest City” of San Diego, our campus is the only one that has a four diamond rating and a Michelin star. I am pretty sure the campuses listed above do not have a spa, a gold-medal rated golf course nor a meditation center founded by none other than Deepak Chopra. In addition, our Surf Club (yes we have one) chooses short-boarding in overhead empty waves in North County San Diego than the less challenging over-crowded Malibu of the public state school you have at the top of your list. Not to mention, our classes are taught by a world-class faculty that is considered leaders in their respective fields (Arvind Bhambri, Nandini Rajagopalan, Mark DeFond, Mark Young, and David Logan just to name a few).

  • Jim G

    I would have to say getting my MBA from UC Irvine was a great campus environment too. Newport Beach is not too shabby!

  • jmco

    This raises an interesting idea: does an ideal campus setting, like LA or Pepperdine, matter? I did another graduate degree at a school located in a gritty North Eastern urban city environment. It was cold and windy between the buildings in winter, Fall was pretty with the leaves, summer was brutal and dirty for those of us on campus or living in town while working over summer. To make it worse, they were ripping up a mile long section of the downtown area and redoing some major river sections. All the classrooms I was in for my entire graduate study, were right on top of all this construction. (Of course, it looks FANTASTIC now, there is even a park on the river right out the door from my building where there used to be heavy traffic!)
    But guess what? That program was top rated by, take your pick of the ratings, from before I was there to this day. Let me clarify, #1 in that field in graduate study (as well as other areas there at #1 with remaining in top 5 or 10).
    I think if it had been on some suburban campus with Italian marble and surfing and flowering trees, it might not have been the top program. We were there to study. The food in the city was great but, other than that, it was major construction, gritty life, regular crime (mostly car stereos or apt break ins), the worst cops, city corruption, and in process urban gentrification the whole time. 
    In contrast to that, I did an undergrad at another top department. It was in the SoCal burbs. My dorm had a pool. Drinking was allowed all over campus at almost anytime. A *wild* series of parties was de-facto on campus every weekend. Drugs. Friends of mine would regularly go surfing, to Las Vegas, into the city, skiing, etc. 
    It was all a big distraction and, even though I was a light weight – just sampling at best – my grades suffered.
    I think a bit of a rough looking and feeling campus is a good thing! It keeps you on your toes. You gotta work for it. No warm, grass covered quad to space out on or other pleasures to distract you.
    This may be an argument for the value of attending only urban campuses which, for the most part, are just buildings in the cities taken over or purpose built for the institution. Location and landscape are secondary.

  • App State, represent!

  • Keltron

    Shorts and scandals? Sounds interesting. . .

  • John

    how does American have a campus environment ? Live in DC and they are tiny and very residential area…no campus worth mentioning compared to the others

  • jonathan m.

    how is ithaca college on here and not cornell….?