Job Placement At The Best Undergraduate Business Programs

Ask business majors why they are studying business and many will have a similar response. They want to land a meaningful job and have a fulfilling career. Compared to other majors that can be paths to graduate school, the business degree is largely for the no-nonsense job seeker. So when we gathered data for our first ever ranking of undergraduate business schools, we asked schools to report the percentage of students accepting jobs within three months of graduation. Among the top 50 schools, the best employment rate was extremely high: 99% at the top. But the lowest rate was equally surprising, especially for a top 50 school: Just under 35% at the bottom.

The school with the best 2016 track record on the job front was Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business at 99%. Buoyed by a cooperative education (co-op) program, Northeastern’s curricular design is to get students real-world experience that leads immediately to a job. Up next was Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business, which placed 98.5% of its class of 2016. Rounding out the top three was Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, with a 98% placement rate.

Overall, the placement rates are pretty frothy, reinforcing today’s parental nudging on their children to major in a subject that ends up with a job. More than 10 schools placed their 2016 graduates at a clip of 95% or greater. Exactly half (25) of the 50 to-ranked schools boasted placement rates at 90% or higher. In fact, the employment rates at many of the top 50 schools were so high that world-class institutions of learning, such as UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, were effectively ranked 18th and 19th on our list, with employment rates of 92.5% and 91.7%, respectively.


All but two schools saw more than half of their class of 2016 employed within three months of graduation. The average for all 50 schools was 85.4%. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 89% of 20- to 24-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree or higher were employed in 2015.

Of course, it goes the other way, too. Graduates of the class of 2016 from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business had a placement rate of 34.9% — lower than any other school. Rutgers Business School’s Newark campus didn’t fair much better with a placement rate of 38.1%. When we published a similar list in 2014, the lowest placement rate was 30% at Providence College.

Since that time, a few schools have made some major leaps in their placement rates. Boston University’s Questrom School of Business went from 52% of the class with job offers in 2014 to 90% job acceptances in 2016. The College of New Jersey went from 62% to 80% during the same time. Elon University’s Love School of Business jumped from 75% to 88%. One thing to consider, however, is the 2014 numbers were job offers three months after graduation instead of job acceptances for this year’s list. That is likely why no school had a 100% rate compared to 2014 when the University of Texas-Austin, Syracuse University, and Tulane University all had perfect offer rates.


What the employment data fails to disclose, of course, is whether the job a student landed was the job he or she really wanted. It also doesn’t show starting salary or bonus, something we’ve covered in other articles (see What You Can Expect To Make With Your Undergraduate Business Degree). What is clear is that schools that are able to get their students internships the year before graduation tend to do exceptionally well when it comes to full-time job offers and acceptances. At Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, the largest source of job offers in 2016 were internships, accounting for 37% of all accepted offers, followed by on-campus interviews and job postings (21%). At Wharton, some 31% of the class received job offers as a result of their summer internships.

Wharton, which has one of the most transparent career reports of any undergraduate business school, more than three of four students had job offers in hand by the Christmas break, a full five months before graduation (see table below on when students received their offers). Some 95% received an offer prior to May 2016 graduation. One reason why Wharton’s acceptance rate three months after graduation trails 18 other schools is because the market for Wharton grads is so good that some students prefer to hold out for their dream jobs and won’t accept offers that graduates of other schools might love to have.

Though the Wharton stats are impressive, there is also evidence of a slowing of the economic recovery. The number of employers conducting on-campus job interviews fell 10.5% this year to 334 from 373 a year earlier. The total number of interviews declined by 19.3% to 8,910 from 11,046 in the previous year. Moreover, prestige investment banker Goldman Sachs hired far fewer Wharton undergrads this year. Goldman cut its hiring in half to 11 from 23 last year. Still, most undergraduates should be so fortunate to effectively have a job guaranteed within three months of graduation.


So what kind of jobs are business undergrads getting? That obviously varies by school. At Indiana’s Kelley School of Business, for example, the top hiring industries in 2016 were public accounting (26%), consulting (12%), retail (9%), and investment banking (9%). The Big Four accounting firms alone accounted for four of the five largest employers at Kelley this year, with Ernst & Young taking 79 grads, PwC, 54, Deloitte, 36, and KPMG, 21.

At Wharton, the numbers were almost the opposite of Kelley’s, with just .3% of the Class of 2016 going into accounting. Instead, 49% of Wharton grads landed jobs in finance, 22% in consulting, 13% in technology, and 3% in manufacturing. Wharton’s top five employers in 2016 were Boston Consulting Group, with 19 hires, JP Morgan Chase with 15, Morgan Stanley and McKinsey, with a dozen hires each, and Goldman Sachs, with 11 grads newly on the payroll.

And at Washington University’s Olin School, it’s yet another story. The top industry employer was consulting, hiring 21% of the Class of 2016, followed by both technology and healthcare/pharma, which both claimed 15% of the graduates, consumer products, with 13% of the hires, and finance, with 12% of the grads. Public accounting at Olin did better than it did at Wharton but it wasn’t even close to Kelley. Some 6% of Olin grads accepted jobs with accounting firms.


Source: Wharton Undergraduate Class of 2016 Career Plans Survey Report

( To see the placement rates for the class of 2016 at the Poets&Quants’ top 50 undergraduate business programs turn to the following page)