The Best Undergraduate Business Programs

The University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame

For the fifth straight year, the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business won the top spot on Bloomberg  Businessweek’s ninth annual ranking of the best U.S. undergraduate business schools.

The University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce ranked second, also for the fifth consecutive year, and Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management ranked third, for the third year running. Boston College’s Carroll School of Management and Olin Business School at Washington University, St. Louis rounded out the top five.

The bigger news, perhaps, was that Indiana University’s Kelley School broke into the top ten this year, climbing to No.  8 from 13th. Kelley’s move was fueled by scoring a first place ranking on the magazine’s employer survey. A total of 132 U.S. undergraduate business programs are included in the 2014 Businessweek ranking which was released today (April 4) on at


Undergraduate rankings of business programs differ substantially from those of full-time MBA offerings largely because some of the biggest players, such as Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, do not offer undergraduates a business major. That said, the biggest perennial surprise in the BW ranking is Wharton’s showing which this year slid to seventh place from fifth, although Wharton is often considered as having the best undergraduate business program in the world.

In fact, U.S. News & World Report, which ranks undergraduate business schools based on a survey of deans and senior faculty at each undergraduate business program, puts Wharton first, followed by MIT, UC-Berkeley and Michigan, all tied for second place. New York University is in fifth place. Yet, none of those schools even make the Top 5 on the BusinessWeek list of the best U.S. undergraduate business schools.

In many cases, there is a wide divergence in the two rankings, which can largely be attributed to the differing methodologies used to compile the lists. In contrast to U.S. News’ survey of deans and faculty, BusinessWeek’s ranking is based on five components: student assessment (30%), academic quality metrics (30%), employer opinion (20%), median starting salary (10%), and a “feeder school” score (10%), which reflects how many students undergrad programs send to top MBA programs. The academic quality metrics include average SAT score, average class size, student/faculty ratio, percentage of students with business-related internships, and average number of hours students spend on coursework per week.

Those metrics understandably result in often dramatic differences between the two rankings. BusinessWeek‘s No. 4 school, Boston College, is ranked 22nd by U.S. News. The University of Richmond’s business school, which finished 17th on the BW list, is in 58th on the U.S. News ranking. And though Wake Forest University’s undergraduate business program comes in 11th, according to BW, it’s 34th when U.S. News assigns its numbers (see our table on the following page).

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