Best Business Programs by Specialty

Irish eyes are smiling on Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business (Mendoza Undergraduate Business Profile). Not only is Mendoza home to the top-ranked undergraduate business program in the nation and the most satisfied students; it's also the most decorated school in Bloomberg Businessweek's annual ranking of the Best Undergraduate Business Programs by Specialty.

As part of Bloomberg Businessweek's annual ranking of the top undergraduate business programs, senior business students from the 139 participating schools were asked to assign letter grades—from A to F—to their business programs in 12 specialty areas: quantitative methods, operations management, ethics, sustainability, calculus, microeconomics, macroeconomics, accounting, financial management, marketing management, business law, and corporate strategy. Based on those grades, scores were calculated for each of the ranked schools in each area.

Not surprisingly, the top-ranked schools in the overall ranking, published in March, have the most top-10 specialty rankings, as well. Notre Dame leads the way, appearing on eight top-10 lists, followed by Cornell University (Cornell Undergraduate Business Profile) and Babson College (Babson Undergraduate Business Profile)—Nos.5 and 15 in the overall ranking, respectively—with six top-10 specialty ranks apiece.Emory University's Goizueta School of Business (Goizueta Undergraduate Business Profile), the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (Wharton Undergraduate Business Profile), and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Undergraduate Business Profile) each ranked near the top of five specialty lists.

Racking Up Top Awards

Among them, the top three programs in the overall ranking took eight of the No. 1 specialty ranks. No. 1 Notre Dame is tops in accounting and ethics, No. 2 University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce (McIntire Undergraduate Business Profile) takes the top spot in both macroeconomics and business law, and No.3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management (Sloan Undergraduate Business Profile) is best in quantitative methods, operations management, calculus, and marketing. "Sloan requires a great deal of its students," says an MIT senior business student responding to the Bloomberg Businessweek survey. "It's exceedingly challenging, but that's a good thing."

What is surprising is how many different universities can boast of a top-10 finish. In all, 48 schools appear on at least one top-10 list, and the programs that excel in the various specialty areas are, in some cases, not be the ones you might expect. For instance, the best program for corporate strategy is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lally School of Management & Technology (Lally Undergraduate Business Profile), which ranked 34th overall. Lally also ranks sixth in quantitative methods, an area that students feel sets their program apart. "It's the emphasis on quantitative coursework combined with the incorporation of technology into each course that make the Lally experience unique," wrote one senior business student at RPI in the Bloomberg Businessweek survey.

The University of Florida's Warrington College of Business Administration (Warrington Undergraduate Business Profile) ranked No. 55 overall but earned top-10 finishes in both macroeconomics (No. 8) and microeconomics (No. 2), while the University at Buffalo (Buffalo Undergraduate Business Profile), ranked 97th overall, secured a No. 7 rank in operations management, an area that is included in the school's list of prerequisite courses for business majors.

In the financial management specialty area, Case Western Reserve's Weatherhead School of Management (Weatherhead Undergraduate Business Profile), ranked 38th overall, takes the top spot, followed by Babson and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business (McDonough Undergraduate Business Profile). At Weatherhead, students laud the experiential learning options available in finance courses, as well as the opportunity to enroll in MBA-level classes as undergrads.

Emphasizing Green

One specialty area that continues to gain popularity among undergraduate business students is sustainability, and schools are responding by ramping up their offerings. At the top of the sustainability ranks is Babson, where students applaud the school's green business efforts throughout the program, both in the classroom and out. One example: the Green Rocket Pitch, which gives entrepreneurial-minded business students the chance to present environmentally responsible business ideas to potential investors. Also, students can choose to live in the Green Tower, a residence hall dedicated to sustainable living and business.

At the College of William and Mary's Mason School of Business (Mason Undergraduate Business Profile), ranked second in sustainability, students have urged the school to go green, and it's paying off. In the past two years, the school has launched Virginia's first undergraduate chapter of Net Impact (a group dedicated to social and environmental sustainability), has opened a new LEED Gold Certified business building, and has introduced electives that include Environmental Consulting and Sustainability and the Seas.

Along with sustainability, students in the Class of 2010 are more concerned about ethics than grads in years past, undoubtedly due to the recent financial crisis. Most of the programs thriving in this category have a religious affiliation, including Loyola University-Chicago ( Loyola-Chicago Undergraduate Business Profile), Xavier University's Williams College of Business (Williams Undergraduate Business Profile), and Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Mangement (Marriott Undergraduate Business Profile).

At Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business ( Hankamer Undergraduate Business Profile), a heavy premium is placed on the teaching of ethics, and the focus has earned the school a No. 5 ranking in that specialty area. Business students at the Christian-affiliated university are quick to mention the fact that ethics is intertwined throughout the program, from such courses as Ethics in Sports and Professional Selling and Ethics to case competitions and forums focused specifically on the discipline. "There is an emphasis on ethics in every class; it's interwoven in everything we learn," one Baylor senior explains in the Bloomberg Businessweek survey. "We are expected to make ethical decisions over profit-based ones."

For the complete ranking for an individual specialty, click on the link below:

Top Schools for Accounting

Top Schools for Business Law

Top Schools for Calculus

Top Schools for Ethics

Top Schools for Financial Management

Top Schools for Macroeconomics

Top Schools for Marketing

Top Schools for Microeconomics

Top Schools for Operations Management

Top Schools for Quantitative Methods

Top Schools for Strategy

Top Schools for Sustainability