Academics vs. Recruiters: Which Schools Perform the Best?

Berkeley's Haas School of Business

Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

Let’s start with the University of California-Berkeley (Haas), the University of Michigan (Ross), and UCLA (Anderson). Each school is ranked much higher by academics than recruiters by a 0.4 margin. Notice anything else? Yes, each is a big state, public business school.

Ross, in particular, demonstrates its academic prowess by ranking #4 on the latest research rankings published by the University of Texas-Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management  (ranking ahead of Stanford, Booth, Kellogg and Sloan). With alum Stephen M. Ross pumping $100 million dollars into his namesake to beef up career services and attract corporate partners, expect the University of Michigan to close the gap between academic and recruiter scores in the near future.

Haas should benefit from its close proximity to the venture capital, and technology entrepreneurship opportunities inherent to Silicon Valley. Despite these built-in advantages, Haas scores a 4.2 among recruiters overall, a strong score but a slight disappointment nonetheless. Still, the school maintains a 91.6 percent placement rate within three months of graduation (higher than Stanford), along with average starting graduate salaries of $134,078 (respectable, but also a shade below average compensations given to grads from lower-ranked schools like Fuqua, Tuck and Darden). However, the school lags behind grads being hired at top consulting firms (with the exception of Ernst and Young and PwC), which could slightly skew its average starting salaries.

UCLA’s 3.8 recruiter score befits its #18 overall rank. However, Anderson’s 4.2 academic score ranks it alongside higher-ranked programs like NYU (Stern) and the University of Virginia (Darden). So what’s the real story? Technically, employers aren’t overly enamored with UCLA grads, as evidenced by its 84.7 percent placement rate, a rate lower than schools like #58 Wake Forest and #82 Kansas (not to mention in-state rivals like the University of California-Irvine and the University of California-Davis). Still, the school has recently been undergoing a facelift on the fly, overhauling its curriculum and establishing a consistent identity with its revamped branding. The result, not surprisingly, has been the recruitment of its highest caliber class yet, which could shift these numbers when we re-visit recruiter scores, starting salaries, and placement rates in two to three years.

Emory University (Goizueta) produced the biggest incongruity between recruiters and academics, with 3.5 and 4.0 scores, respectively. This could partly stem from its recruiter and peer assessment scores climbing by 0.1 and 0.2 point over the previous year. Despite this, this discrepancy is surprising, as Emory leads all top 50 MBA program in graduate placement at a 96.2 percent clip (not withstanding graduates’ enviable starting salaries and bonuses of $124,148). And this begs the question: Are the recruiters rating Emory the same ones who hire their graduates? That is likely a question for Erika Hayes James, who recently took the reins as dean at Emory. Considering James’ background as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies and her role as senior associate dean at teaching-driven Darden, expect academics and recruiters to enjoy the best of both worlds at Goizueta.

Overall, Yale and the University of Texas (McCombs) were the only schools in the top 20 to score higher among recruiters than academics. Yale’s recruiter score climbed from 4.1 to 4.3 over the past year, as the tenure of Dean “Turnaround Ted” Snyder continues to pay dividends (despite data to the contrary). With McCombs poised to break ground on a buff new home for its MBA program, expect the school’s academic reputation to rise in the coming years.

Schools 21-50: Jindal: The Quest for Respect Continues

As always, the University of Texas-Dallas  sticks out when it comes to U.S. News rankings. It nabbed an eye-catching 4.0 score from recruiters, making them an equal to McCombs in Texas (and Tepper,  Goizueta, and Kenan-Flagler elsewhere). Jindal’s job stats are hard to beat, with an 89.2 placement rate (though its average starting compensation of $83,944 is a bit on the low side). Value-wise, the program reports a 5:1 salary-to-debt ratio for new grads. Academically, the school possesses some real chops, ranking #17 in the last research rankings (which Jindal sponsors). The school even maintains the ninth most-stringent acceptance rate. Still, academics hammer Texas-Dallas with a 2.7 peer assessment score, a lower average than what #100 American University received (No offense to Kogod). Question is, what does Jindal need to do to get academics to take a deeper look?

As noted earlier, academics tended to rank schools in this range higher than recruiters (Making Jindal’s scoring all the more glaring). How did schools like Indiana University, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, and USC fare? Click on the next page to see.

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