FAQ: Undergraduate Business School Rankings 2014

How do you choose which schools to rank?

We keep a list of U.S. schools offering undergraduate business degrees that have met our eligibility requirements in the past, and we add to the pool any that apply for inclusion during the year. If you want your school to be considered for our rankings in the future, please e-mail the B-Schools team at undergrad@bloomberg.net to get your school on our radar. Include your school’s name and location, the year the undergraduate business program was founded, and the head count of your most recent graduating class. Right now, we rank only U.S. undergraduate programs.

What data does Bloomberg Businessweek use to rank programs?
We draw data from three sources: a survey of students, a survey of employers, and a survey of schools. There is a full explanation of how we collect and analyze that data on our methodology page.

Did Bloomberg Businessweek change anything about the way the rankings were conducted this year?

Our 2014 rankings algorithm was nearly identical to our 2013 rankings algorithm. This year, we made a small change to how we analyze the student survey: To reflect best practices in data analysis, we discontinued a weighting practice we used in prior rankings. This practice gave more weight to survey questions that recorded a wider spread of responses. The shift caused some schools’ student scores to rise and others to fall. For the vast majority of schools, the switch to unweighted scores did not seriously affect their rank.

Additionally, Cambria Consulting (our partner in collecting student and employer data) improved its system for verifying employer contact information before distributing the employer survey, which yielded a larger pool of respondents than last year. Bigger, more representative samples produce higher-quality results.

When does each survey get distributed? How long are they available for completion?

The student survey was sent in November and was live for roughly three months. The employer survey was distributed in December and was live for two months. The school survey was distributed in January, and schools had about six weeks to complete it.

How is the student survey conducted?

Students are contacted using e-mail addresses supplied by schools and directed to a secure online form. Bloomberg Businessweek sends out several reminders of the survey deadline. Schools whose privacy policies—or local laws—prevent them from giving Bloomberg Businessweek students’ e-mail addresses are given a secure survey link to distribute directly to students. For details about what we ask in our student survey, see our methodology page.

Do schools have any input on the content of the surveys? 

Student and employer surveys are developed by Bloomberg Businessweek. To keep our surveys current, we periodically seek input from school administrators, faculty, and students, but they do not decide which questions are asked or how we ask them. This maintains the integrity and independence of the ranking process.

Are schools allowed to communicate with their students about the student survey?

Because we require a minimum number of responses to the student survey in order for a school to be included in the rankings, schools often encourage their students to complete the surveys. However, we make it clear that they should not coach students—either directly or through media such as student newspapers—on how to answer the survey. Nor should they make any statements emphasizing the importance of a high ranking or in any other way try to keep students from answering the survey honestly. Any evidence of coaching may be grounds for eliminating a school from the rankings.

Is there a minimum response rate for the student survey? How are the response rate and minimum response rate calculated?

To make sure we have a robust and representative sample, the response rate for each school is calculated by dividing the number of replies by the total number of business students graduating in the 2013-2014 school year. The minimum response rate is determined after a review of all school response rates; this year, the average response rate on the student survey was 31.5 percent.

How do you calculate starting salaries for undergraduates?

We ask schools to supply median starting salaries—excluding signing bonuses and other compensation—for the most recent class for which data were available.

How is the employer survey conducted?

Starting with e-mail addresses supplied by schools, Bloomberg Businessweek creates a list of companies recruiting undergraduate business students and identifies a single high-level hiring contact at each company. This means that not every recruiter named by every school is asked to be a survey respondent, but someone at each named firm is contacted. Then, with the help of Cambria Consulting, Bloomberg Businessweek contacts the employers and directs them to a secure site at which they complete the survey. We send out several reminders to keep employers aware of the survey deadline. Our methodology page has more detail.

How are Academic Quality data collected?

Schools include on their profile surveys data for three of the five AQ points (SAT score, class size, and faculty/student ratio). Data for additional AQ points (internships, coursework hours) are collected directly from students in the student survey. More detail about AQ points can be found on our methodology page.

How do you prevent cheating?

We distribute a Bloomberg Businessweek code of ethics to school administrators and student leaders, warning them that coaching or unduly influencing survey respondents is strictly prohibited and will exclude their program from our rankings, if caught.

We also seek assistance from statisticians David Rindskopf and Alan Gross, professors of educational psychology at City University of New York Graduate Center. Using a series of statistical analyses, they test student responses for patterns that are unlikely to occur if students are answering the questions honestly. Responses that might be the result of coaching by school officials or other forms of cheating are discarded and may be grounds for elimination from the ranking.

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