There is at least one place in the business world where most of the news is good: undergraduate business education. The number of high school seniors who say they intend to earn a business degree is increasing. Those who entered a business program in 2007 boasted higher standardized test scores than last year's freshmen. And graduates are leaving with bigger salaries. The big-name schools are competing more fiercely for these qualified students, with everything from new buildings to more tailored study-abroad programs. Others are trying to build national reputations with niche programs that take advantage of their location to prepare students for jobs in a particular industry.
The competition is evident right at the very top of our third annual ranking of undergraduate B-schools. The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School once again was deemed the best program. But it has an increasingly strong rival in the University of Virginia. In several of the measures we use to determine our ranking, the two schools were virtually the same. And we have a new No. 3 this year: the University of Notre Dame, which displaced the University of California at Berkeley (it slipped down to No. 11).