The Best Undergraduate B-Schools for Ethics

Photograph by Don Bayley

As part of the 2013 Best Undergraduate B-Schools ranking, Bloomberg Businessweek asked undergraduate business students from this year’s graduating class to tell us, via an online survey, about their business school experience, from getting in to getting a job. One section of the survey singles out specific aspects of the business program and asks the students to grade them on a scale from A to F. Over the next few weeks, we will publish the top 10 B-schools in each specialty area, from accounting to entrepreneurship, culminating with publication of the entire undergraduate specialty ranking including 124 schools.

Today we look at ethics, a specialty that is led by two schools with strong religious foundations: the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management.

At Mendoza, the top-ranked school for ethics, the entire business curriculum is steeped in the university’s Catholic tradition, which stresses a values-based education. It’s the school’s founding mission. While ethics may not appear in every course description, it is a large part in every course.

That’s not to imply there aren’t ethics-specific classes. The school’s signature course, “Foresight in Business and Society,” provides ethical frameworks for approaching business problems. In another course, called “Giving Voice to Values,” students develop a “toolkit” of specific steps toward ethical decision-making; and in the “Business Ethics Field Project” seniors get practical experience in a real social service setting.

Mendoza is home to three ethics centers dedicated to research, study, and public discourse of current issues related to ethical business, and hosts two annual speaker series—the Berges Lecture Series and Ten Years Hence. Each brings in experts from a variety of industries to speak on topics related to ethics, sustainability, and the greater good.

At Marriott, one of the four integrated core courses that every business student must take is “Ethics for Management,” where students analyze various ethical dilemmas and study ethical theories necessary to making management decisions. Additionally, the school offers two case competitions focused on the area: the NAC Ethics Case Experience and the student-run Ethics Case Competition.

Following Mendoza and Marriott in the ethics ranks are the College of Business at Northern Illinois University and the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. Below is the list of the top 10 schools.

Top Undergraduate Business Schools for Ethics

1. Notre Dame (Mendoza) 1.032
2. Brigham Young (Marriott) 1.102
3. Northern Illinois 1.113
4. Denver (Daniels) 1.118
5. West Virginia 1.154
6. Texas (McCombs) 1.160
7. Quinnipiac 1.161
8. Richmond (Robins) 1.173
9. Tulsa 1.174
10. Texas A&M (Mays) 1.180

Methodology: The ranking is based on student responses to the question asking them to rank their program’s ethics offerings. Points are awarded for each response—one point for an A grade through five points for a grade of F—and then averaged for each school. If students did not have exposure to the area in question, they could answer NA, and their response was not included. The ranking is based on the average; schools with the lowest average are ranked the highest. The average ethics score for all 124 undergraduate business schools in the ranking was 1.35.

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