RANKING THE TOP UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS PROGRAMS
That said, 54.1 percent of 2013 GMAT test-takers possessed an undergraduate business or commerce degree, a number that has been relatively consistent over the past three years according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). And that brings up a question: Does an undergraduate business degree help students notch a high GMAT score and earn admittance to a top business school?
Sadly, there is little data to support either side of that argument. But certain undergraduate business programs do increase candidates’ chances of being accepted into a leading MBA program. To use a chess analogy, students’ choice of an undergraduate program – a decision made back in high school – could influence which MBA program ultimately accepts them.
So which schools pave the way into a highly selective graduate program? That question can be answered in Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 undergraduate business school ranking. Here, the magazine ranks the top undergraduate feeder schools to top MBA programs. The feeder score, which accounts for 10 percent of a school’s index score and rank, is based on 2008, 2010, and 2012 surveys of recent MBA graduates. When compiled, this data shows the number of grads each undergraduate business program sends to top MBA programs. (Please note that Bloomberg Businessweek does not release the number of students who move onto MBA programs or which schools accept them).
OLIN TOPS THE LIST
So if you’re looking for a leg up as an undergrad, you can start with Washington University’s Olin Business School, which ranks #1 overall. Their undergraduates are certainly popular with employers, with 97 percent of graduates landing jobs within three months of graduation (at a median starting salary of $62,500). The school recruits the best talent, with business majors bringing an average SAT of 1480 into the classroom (and 91 percent graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school class). The big drawback? It is a private school with a $46,467 annual price tag.
Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management earns the silver with the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business nabbing the bronze. Cornell benefits from its strong multi-disciplinary and hands-on curriculum. Haas, the country’s second-oldest business school, centers its curriculum around its four pillars, with two of those pillars – “Question the Status Quo” and “Beyond Yourself” – fitting quite nicely within an MBA framework.
Carnegie Melon’s Tepper School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business round out the top five feeder schools. Ironically, these schools are far more popular with adcoms than company recruiters, ranking between 26-46 in Bloomberg Businessweek’s employer survey for undergraduates.
Now it’s important to note that these are the top undergraduate feeder schools for all the top MBA programs ranked by the magazine. There’s a different mix of feeder schools for individual graduate business school programs. So Harvard Business School’s top five are Harvard, Stanford, Penn, Yale, and Columbia. Stanford’s top five feeder colleges are Stanford, Penn, Yale, Harvard, and Virginia (see our stories on feeder colleges and companies for specific MBA programs at the end of this article).
SURPRISES GALORE AMONG FEEDER SCHOOLS
In any case, how do the top undergraduate programs rank as feeder schools, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek? The results are decidedly mixed. The magazine has ranked Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business at #1 among undergraduate business programs for five consecutive years. However, it only reached #13 as one of the top undergraduate feeder schools. Despite being a top-three school in the MBA space, Wharton’s undergrad program only graded out as a #12 feeder school. The University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business is also a mild disappointment, placing #17 as a feeder school (despite ranking #6 in the undergraduate listing). Worse, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business ranked #8 overall, but #44 among feeders.
Of course, the list of top undergraduate feeder schools also includes a few surprises. Case in point: Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherford School of Management, which is the #14 feeder school to top MBA programs (ahead of more recognizable names like Wake Forest, Brigham Young, and Southern Methodist). Other surprises include the University of Wisconsin (#18) and the College of William & Mary (#19).
To check out the top undergraduate feeder schools rankings, continue to the next page.