After suspending its undergraduate business school ranking for a year, Bloomberg Businessweek is expected to unveil a new updated list on April 19th. The new survey is bound to be controversial because many admission directors and undergraduate deans have expressed disappointment and anger over the magazine’s new methodology that led some to consider a boycott of the list.
Until 2014, the magazine had been cranking out a numerical ranking of the top undergraduate business programs since 2006. The last ranking, published in April of 2014, had Notre Dame University’s Mendoza School of Business in first place for the fifth consecutive year. Only two other undergrad programs have topped the Businessweek list: Wharton did it three times from 2006 to 2008, while the University of Virginia’s McIntire School placed first once in 2009.
Besides No. 1 Notre Dame, the top five programs last ranked by Businessweek were No. 2 UVA, No. 3 Cornell University’s Dyson School, Boston College, and Washington University’s Olin School of Business in St. Louis.
NEW RANKING TO DEBUT AMID SHARPLY DIMINISHED COVERAGE
When Businessweek first announced the suspension, it left open the possibility that it would no longer do an undergraduate ranking. The magazine has sharply diminished its coverage of business education online and in print in recent years, a consequence of staff cuts and editorial direction. Only two publications produce undergraduate business rankings: U.S. News and Businessweek.When the suspension was announced in an email to the schools, then Business Education Editor Francesca Levy, whose title has since been changed to Game Plan Editor, insisted that the magazine remains “committed to reporting on the full spectrum of business school programs and the education and career prospects of undergraduates, but measuring the vast undergrad B-school population presents unique challenges. To ensure a reliable and rigorous methodology, we will use the coming months to evaluate potential improvements to our rankings process and product. When this evaluation is complete, we will let you know whether and when we expect to re-launch Bloomberg Businessweek’s undergraduate business school ranking.”
Businessweek’s earlier ranking had based on five components: student assessment (30%), academic quality metrics (30%), employer opinion (20%), median starting salary (10%), and a “feeder school” score (10%), which reflects how many students undergrad programs send to top MBA programs. The academic quality metrics include average SAT score, average class size, student/faculty ratio, percentage of students with business-related internships, and average number of hours students spend on coursework per week.
SCHOOLS ‘A LITTLE APOPLECTIC’ ABOUT CHANGES IN THE RANKING METHODOLOGY
It’s not yet known what new methodology the magazine finally adopted for its new list. But during the course of its discussions with business schools over a different approach, several deans and admission directors disagreed over the direction of the new methodology. According to business school officials, Businessweek was likely to eliminate academic metrics in favor of putting far greater emphasis on employment and salary.
“A large number of Top 20 schools are a little apoplectic about these changes,” explains one prominent undergraduate dean, who says that at one point there was a “small buzz” about a boycott of Businessweek. “There will be no attempt whatsoever to look at what we believe differentiates one program from another. It’s all about where you will place your students. adjusted by geographic region and industry. It’s not how students choose programs or the way programs are differentiated.
“Students are looking for the cumulative undergraduate experience. All of it is around developing humans, not a first job which is an 18-month proposition anyway. What really kind of emerges is that now we have U.S. News doing the sort of popularity ranking for its undergraduate ranking and then we have this one that no longer looks at what is happening in the programs.”