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Business Schools

Rankings Chat Highlights

BusinessWeek editors field questions on this year's Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking

Amid the financial crisis, undergraduate business students wanted their schools to step up to the plate and help them find jobs. And the schools that gave their students a hand in weathering the storm scored big in the 2009 BusinessWeek ranking of undergraduate business programs. For the first time ever, the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce knocked out the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, which ultimately came in third place, to top the list of best programs.

Recently, at an online chat event, BusinessWeek editors Louis Lavelle (LouisBW) and Geoff Gloeckler (GeoffBW) counted down the top programs and answered questions from the audience and BusinessWeek reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW) about everything from why certain schools dropped to how recruiters ranked the programs. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Shanna: How many schools participated in the rankings in 2009?

GeoffBW: This year, 137 schools took part. Of those, 36 schools were eliminated because of low response rates, which left us with 101.

Steve720: Were there any major shifts in the ranks from 2008 to 2009?

LouisBW: Well, the big shift was at the very top, where the University of Virginia and Notre Dame overtook Wharton. That was mainly because of gains by those two schools, particularly in student satisfaction; they came in one and two respectively on that measure.

aan253: How did NYU drop from 8 to 15?

GeoffBW: NYU had the largest drop in student satisfaction of any school in the ranking. A lot of it had to do with the job search. In years past, students were pretty much assured to be coming back to campus for their senior year fresh off a finance internship on Wall Street with a job offer. This year, things weren't so smooth. Not everyone got the job offer, and of those who did, many are seeing their start dates pushed back. Some are even seeing offers rescinded. Obviously, there isn't much the school can do about this, but it sours some student opinions.

GoldenGoose31: Are there any changes in the ranking methodology from 2008 to 2009?

LouisBW: There were no changes in the methodology. We continue to rank the schools based on nine measures of satisfaction, post-graduation outcomes, and academic quality.

latz41: Is the quality of education you will receive at any of the schools in the top 10 really better than what you would get at [the schools ranked] 90 to 100? Or do those schools just look much better on a résumé?

GeoffBW: This is a question we get a lot. I think you're partially right about top schools looking better on a résumé, but a lot of it has to do with the kinds of jobs students get when they graduate. If you want to work in finance on Wall Street, you'll want to go to one of the top-ranked programs. If you're more interested in working regionally, you might consider other schools. That isn't to say that students at schools outside of the top 10 don't get jobs on Wall Street. They just aren't as easy to come by.

NDBusiness: When will the magazine be on newsstands?

LouisBW: The magazine will be on newsstands starting on Friday [Feb. 27, 2009], but you'll find a lot more information on the Web site.

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