No Surprise: Wharton Tops U.S. News’ Undergrad Biz Rankings Again

A University of Pennsylvania Wharton School recent graduate celebrates. Courtesy photo

You know the tired cliché. Death, taxes, and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania topping the U.S. News ranking of undergraduate business programs. For nearly the entirety of the past decade, Wharton’s undergraduate business program has topped the U.S. News’s ranking of undergraduate business programs. Essentially a popularity contest, the ranking is based solely on responses from deans and senior faculty members through a one-to-five scaled peer assessment survey. The U.S. News takes the average one-to-five score, combines it with each school’s score from the previous year, and puts out the ranking.

Wharton’s reputation score of 4.8 (again, on the five-point scale) was better than all other schools. And once again, MIT’s Sloan School of Management followed with a 4.7. There was one slight change compared to last year in that the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School slipped one spot to a tie for third with the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. This, however, was the exact same placement the schools had two years ago. Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School and the University of Texas McCombs School each climbed one spot to share a three-way tie for fifth place with New York University’s Stern School.

There wasn’t any change for the rest of this year’s top ten. The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School tied for eighth again with the University of Virginia’s McIntire School and Cornell University and Indiana University both tied for 10th. The University of Notre Dame and University of Southern California both slipped two spots from 10th last year to 12th this year. Meanwhile, Washington University in St. Louis climbed two spots to share the 12th spot with Notre Dame and USC.

THIS YEAR’S TOP WINNERS AND LOSERS

Scores were generally better this year compared to last year, which could suggest a more favorable reputation of business schools among their peers. While Wharton’s 4.8 was the same as last year, MIT Sloan’s score increased one point from 4.6 to 4.7. Michigan also climbed a tenth of a point from 4.5 to 4.6. Overall last year, 14 schools had a score of 4.0 or higher. This year, that number climbed to 18.

While there wasn’t much shuffling among the top-10 schools, there was significant movement further down the list. The University of Wisconsin climbed three spots, landing back in the top 15 after dropping three spots to 18th last year. After dropping six spots to 30th place last year, the University of Florida boomeranged eight spots, up to 22nd this year. Texas A&M University also continues its recent ascent, also climbing eight spots from 30th to 22nd — up nine spots from two years ago.

Within the top 75, Rutgers Business School in New Brunswick and Clemson University in South Carolina had the largest climbs this year, each climbing 13 places to 66th place. A slew of schools had climbs of 12 places including the University of Tennessee, University of Oklahoma, University of Connecticut, Northeastern University, and Bentley University, all of which went from 62nd to 50th.

At the other end, the Air Force Academy outside of Colorado Springs plummeted 22 spots to 66th place. Temple University had a 17-position drop for the second year in a row. After placing 45th two years ago, the school, which was kicked out of the U.S. News’ Online MBA ranking for falsifying data, is now in 79th place. This year’s ranking also wasn’t great for Texas Christian University and Loyola Marymount University — both of which dropped 21 spots to 90th place this year.

All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, however. While TCU and Loyola Marymount both dropped 21 spots, their actual raw score of 3.1 didn’t change, meaning schools could actually “perform” as well as they have in year’s past, but drop positions based on other schools earning better grades from their peers. In all, 504 schools were ranked, but only 465 received scores. The lowest reputation score was 2.0, which led to a 38-school tie for 428th place.

(See the next pages for rankings for the top 100 schools.)

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