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Business Schools

How We Ranked the Schools

Student satisfaction, jobs, and academic quality all help determine which business programs come out on top

To identify the top undergraduate business programs, Bloomberg Businessweek uses a methodology that includes nine measures of student satisfaction, postgraduation outcomes, and academic quality. This year we started with 139 programs that were eligible for ranking, including virtually all of the schools from our 2010 ranking plus three new schools that met our eligibility requirements. In November, with the help of Cambria Consulting in Boston, we asked more than 86,000 graduating seniors at those schools to complete a 50-question survey on everything from the quality of teaching to recreational facilities. Overall, 28,377 students responded to the survey, a response rate of 33 percent. The results of the 2011 student survey are then combined with the results of two previous student surveys, from 2010 and 2009, to arrive at a student survey score for each school. The 2011 survey supplies 50 percent of the score; the two previous surveys supply 25 percent each. In addition to surveying students, Bloomberg Businessweek polled 775 corporate recruiters for companies that hire thousands of business majors each year. We asked them to tell us which programs turn out the best graduates, and which schools have the most innovative curricula and most effective career services. In the end, 246 recruiters responded, a response rate of about 32 percent. The results of the 2011 recruiter survey are then combined with the results of two previous recruiter surveys, from 2010 and 2009, to calculate a recruiter survey score for each school. The 2011 survey supplies 50 percent of the score; the two previous surveys supply 25 percent each. To learn which schools' students land the best-paying jobs, we asked each institution to tell us the median starting salary for their most recent graduating class. In addition, we drew on our 2006, 2008, and 2010 MBA surveys to create a "feeder school" measure showing which schools send the most grads to the 35 top MBA programs identified in previous Bloomberg Businessweek rankings. Finally, we created an academic quality gauge of five equally weighted measures. From the schools themselves, we obtained average SAT scores, the ratio of full-time students to faculty, and average class size. The 2011 student survey supplied the percentage of business majors with internships and the hours students spend every week on schoolwork. Before determining the final ranking, we first had to review each school's response rates on the 2011 student and recruiter surveys. Of the 139 programs that were eligible for ranking, a total of 26 were eliminated. Five were eliminated for low response rates in the student survey: Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Connecticut, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Auburn University. Thirteen schools were cut for low response rates in the recruiter survey: University of Texas at Dallas, John Carroll University, University of Miami, Seattle University, Clarkson University, Samford University, Chapman University, Hofstra University, Loyola Marymount University, Ohio Northern University, St. Louis University, University of Hawaii, and Worcester Polytechnic University. An additional eight schools were eliminated because of low response rates on both surveys: University of Utah, Iona College, Creighton University, University of the Pacific, Washington State, SUNY Geneseo, East Tennessee State University, and University of Massachusetts-Boston. For the 113 schools remaining, the student survey score counts for 30 percent of the final ranking, with the recruiter survey score contributing 20 percent. Starting salaries and the MBA feeder school measure contribute 10 percent each. The academic quality measure supplies the remaining 30 percent.

Lavelle is an associate editor at Businessweek.

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