Chat Transcript: Undergraduate Ranking

Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business (Mendoza Undergraduate Profile) took the top spot in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranking of undergraduate business programs for the first time this year. Students praised the program for its values and strong alumni network. And there were many other surprises for undergraduate business programs in 2010. Bloomberg BusinessWeek editors Louis Lavelle and Geoff Gloeckler recently revealed the top 50 programs and answered questions about the ranking from reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW) and readers during a live chat event. Here is an edited transcript of their discussion:

Luke1234: How many schools made the final cut?

GeoffBW: We started with 139 schools, and 111 of them ended up being ranked.

AggieUndergrad: How important are the networking legacies that certain schools, such as Notre Dame, USC (Marshall Undergraduate Profile), Texas A&M (Texas A&M Undergraduate Profile), or Ohio State (Fisher Undergraduate Profile), hold for placement in your rankings?

GeoffBW: Obviously, in a job market like the one we're in now, a strong alumni network is invaluable when it comes to helping students find internships and jobs. In the ranking itself, a large (and active) network is going to help a school on the student survey because more students will have found positions. I know Notre Dame has been actively instructing students to reach out to alumni using LinkedIn, and it seems to be paying off. USC and Notre Dame clearly benefit from the connections, with both schools being ranked [toward the top].

AggieUndergrad: Typically, why do private schools place higher on an overall scale whenever it comes to Bloomberg BusinessWeek's undergraduate rankings?

LouisBW: Actually, they don't. Four of the top 10 are not private schools. Sure, they have some advantages in terms of money, etc., but it's pretty much a fair fight.

amirpuri: Has the McDonough School (McDonough Undergraduate Profile) at Georgetown improved?

GeoffBW: Student satisfaction was only down 7% at Georgetown, the smallest drop of any program. The problem is, the school still ranks 63rd on the student survey. The reason for this, I think, is that students have very high expectations when it comes to the job search. Some students complained that they didn't feel adequately prepared for interviewing. Georgetown's grades did improve considerably, though, in both teaching and placement, and it did rise one spot in the overall rankings to 23.

ferrari49: The Financial Times is reviewing the research journals being used for its rankings. Will Bloomberg BusinessWeek take another look at them?

LouisBW: We don't review academic research for the undergrad ranking, but we do for our MBA ranking that will be published in the fall. We made some changes to the list of journals we use a few years back, and we're not planning to make any additional changes soon.

ApeKnave: Any changes from the methodology used in 2009?

LouisBW: There were no changes to our methodology this year and there haven't been for some time. The ranking is still based on three years of student and recruiter surveys, an MBA feeder school measure, salaries, and academic quality.

clozano67: Why not rank all 139 programs? Did some provide insufficient data for ranking?

GeoffBW: The 28 programs that aren't ranked were eliminated for either a low student response rate or a low recruiter response rate.

airnevin: What has caused Villanova's (Villanova Undergraduate Profile) shift from No. 11 to No. 20?

GeoffBW: Student satisfaction was down 14% at Villanova. Some students complained that accounting students got more attention when it comes to job postings and opportunities. There were also complaints about the strength of the marketing department, both in teaching and course offerings. That being said, it ranked seventh overall in the student survey, so most students are happy. The main reason for the drop, though, is the recruiter ranking, where Villanova dropped from 26 in 2009 to 48 in 2010.

Steve720: Is this supposed to be believable? Wharton (Wharton Undergraduate Profile) behind Notre Dame?

LouisBW: You can choose to believe it or not (sounds like you're leaning toward not) but it is, in fact, believable. It may not sync up with what you think of as the top program, which I'm guessing is based mostly on reputation. This ranking is based on facts. It is what it is, Steve.

hefnerjm: Why did the University of Arkansas's Walton College (Arkansas Undergraduate Profile) drop from 24th to being off the list in 2010?

GeoffBW: Arkansas was ranked 83rd in 2009, and it is ranked 95th in 2010.

sbukowczyk: Where was LeBow College of Business (LeBow Undergraduate Profile) [at Drexel University]? I believe it was a school to watch on a previous survey. Has it improved at all?

LouisBW: LeBow was 68 last year. It fell to 82 this year.

selk: What do you have to say in response to those who feel places such as Wharton are superior to several of the schools ranked above and around it?

GeoffBW: In terms of recruiting and name recognition, you might be right, but remember our ranking is not solely based on the number of students getting hired. We survey students. We survey employers. We look at raw numbers.

amirpuri: How much of the ranking comes from student satisfaction?

LouisBW: Student satisfaction counts for 30% of the final ranking. We use three different student surveys—from 2010, 2009, and 2008—for that 30%.

WilliamUT: Is 100% of the ranking based on current year, or is there a weighting given to previous years?

GeoffBW: For both the student and recruiter surveys, we use three years of data—50% [of the survey score] from 2010, then 25% each from 2009 and 2008.

selk: How has the economic situation in America influenced the way programs were ranked?

GeoffBW: I think that the economic situation is the main driver for the changes in the 2010 ranking. If a student doesn't have a job offer, odds are he isn't going to be as satisfied with his school, which will hurt its overall survey score. The same holds true for the salary number and internship number. Not as many students have internships and salaries are decreasing, all things that will hurt a school in the ranking. The good thing (if there is a good thing) is that everyone is struggling through it.

Hugg4_2: What are the top 10 programs, according to the recruiter rankings?

GeoffBW: Hey, Hugg. Here's the answer [using all three recruiter surveys]:

GeoffBW: 1. Notre Dame

2. Texas-Austin (McCombs Undergraduate Profile)

3. Boston College (Carroll Undergraduate Profile)

4. Penn State (Smeal Undergraduate Profile)

5. Miami University (Farmer Undergraduate Profile)

6. UC Berkeley (Haas) (Haas Undergraduate Profile)

7. Brigham Young University (Marriott Undergraduate Profile)

8. Seattle University (Albers) (Albers Undergraduate Profile)

9. USC (Marshall)

10. Michigan State University (Broad Undergraduate Profile)

Cinmindi: Are you going to rank specific programs within the business program? For example, the finance department ranking, etc.

GeoffBW: We'll have specialty rankings coming in May 2010, where you'll be able to see how your school stacks up against others in various areas. Those calculations haven't been done yet so we don't have any actual numbers to share at the moment.

nblaine: What were the happiest schools, according to the student survey?

GeoffBW: The top 10 schools on the [three-year composite] student survey are as follows:

1. Notre Dame

2. Virginia (McIntire) (McIntire Undergraduate Profile)

3. Cornell University (Cornell Undergraduate Profile)

4. Emory University (Goizueta) (Goizueta Undergraduate Profile)

5. Texas Christian University (Neeley) (Neeley Undergraduate Profile)

6. Brigham Young University

7. Villanova University

8. Babson College (Babson Undergraduate Profile)

9. Texas-Austin

10. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) (Kenan-Flagler Undergraduate Profile)

One comment about the "happiest schools"—all 139 programs in the ranking experienced a drop in student satisfaction. The average drop was 14%. So I guess you could say that no one is as happy as he was last year.

bwa: For the recruiting aspect of the rankings, how are schools ranked and organized? What qualitative and quantitative aspects do you look at?

LouisBW: We ask recruiters where they recruit and how many undergraduate business majors they hire, then we ask them to rank what they consider the top schools. The more recruiters who rank a given school highly, the better that school will do in the recruiter survey.

AnnaRz: Can we get details like those you provided above regarding Villanova for North Carolina State College of Management (NC State Undergraduate Profile)? And did NC State College of Management get ranked?

GeoffBW: Anyone who has specific questions about his school can shoot me an e-mail and I'll try to answer as best I can.

jrex37: Can you opine on the impact a co-op program has on a school's ranking?

LouisBW: It's hard to say, but I think schools such as Northeastern, which offers co-ops, may have students that fare better in the job market, where work experience is prized. If so, then they might do well on both the recruiter and student surveys. It certainly can't hurt.

Cinmindi: How do you evaluate academic quality? Do you go into classrooms and actually listen to a lecture?

LouisBW: It's a nice thought, but we don't sit in on classes. We base academic quality on several measures including test scores, class size, faculty-student ratio, the number of students with internships, and how much time students spend hitting the books.

lizliz: Which schools are at the top of the rankings in internships?

GeoffBW: These are the top 10 for internships:

1. Northeastern University (Northeastern Undergraduate Profile)

2. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) (Tepper Undergraduate Profile)

3. Butler University (Butler Undergraduate Profile)

4. New York University (Stern) (Stern Undergraduate Profile)

5. Drexel University (LeBow)

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) (Sloan Undergraduate Profile)

7. Washington (Olin) (Olin Undergraduate Profile)

8. University of Michigan (Ross) (Ross Undergraduate Profile)

9. Villanova University

10. Fordham University (Fordham Undergraduate Profile)

clozano67: I think I know the answer to this, but why were some schools not considered?

GeoffBW: For a school to be considered for ranking, it must let us know. We will then have it fill out a formal nomination form. The nomination form is on the Web site if you think your school should be part of the ranking. In 2010, we had six new schools join.

DChristy: What was the tipping point for Notre Dame?

LouisBW: Judging from the student survey, I think the tipping point for Notre Dame was the fact that a lot of students really like the school's values. And the big, active alumni base helping them find jobs didn't hurt, either.

ccameron: Will the online list show data supporting the changes in rank for the various universities?

LouisBW: It will. All you need to do is take a look at the rankings for 2009 and 2010. The tables are structured identically. If you compare individual schools on individual measures, you can easily see if a school went down on academic quality, up on the student survey, etc.

lscruggs: What are the top 10 rankings for salaries after graduation?

GeoffBW: 1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2. Carnegie Mellon

3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

4. Georgetown University

5. New York University

6. University of Michigan

7. Washington (Olin)

8. Virginia (McIntire)

9. Northeastern University

10. Fordham University

Debbie_B: Where is St. Louis University (St. Louis Undergraduate Profile) ranked?

GeoffBW: St. Louis University was eliminated from the ranking because of a low recruiter response rate.

vdawgit: What were the top 10 public undergraduate business schools?

LouisBW: 1. Virginia (McIntire)

2. UC Berkeley (Haas)

3. University of Michigan (Ross)

4. Texas (McCombs)

5. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

6. Miami of Ohio

7. Indiana (Kelley) (Kelley Undergraduate Profile)

8. William & Mary (Mason) (Mason Undergraduate Profile)

9. Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Illinois Undergraduate Profile)

10. Penn State

ccameron: Does the online list provide supporting data to reflect the reasons for changes in the ranking?

GeoffBW: Yes. All of the data points used in the ranking will be available in the table on the Web site.

lsteven2_2: How do you calculate the number of students with internships?

LouisBW: We ask them. In our student survey, we ask if students have ever had a business internship. If we get an adequate response rate from that school, we'll report the percentage of respondents with an internship.

kitten: What schools moved up the most in your rankings from 2009 and why?

GeoffBW: It depends on how you look at it. Loyola Maryland (Loyola Maryland Undergraduate Profile) wasn't ranked last year and it is 45 this year, so that's a pretty good jump. But DePaul (DePaul Undergraduate Profile) has the biggest jump for a school that made the cut both years. In 2009 it was ranked 71, and in 2010 it is ranked 40. I would attribute that to its strong showing on the recruiter survey (18th overall).

hefnerjm: Where is University of Arkansas (Walton)?

LouisBW: In Pittsburgh? Just kidding. It's in beautiful downtown Fayetteville.

lasttrymba: What is your e-mail address, so we can send our specific school information request?

GeoffBW: (I'm regretting this already.)

FrancescaBW: You're a brave man, Geoff. On that note, Louis and Geoff, please send us your last comments because it's time to wrap up the chat.

GeoffBW: This was obviously a tough year for students and schools. Hang in there. Things will get better. (They have to, right?)

LouisBW: I'll second that comment.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.