Outside of ROI, one of the best measures of the value of a business degree is the satisfaction level of its graduates. If you liked going to school there, you’re more likely to stay in touch — and maybe do more, like donate money. One way to find out whether a business school has happy graduates, besides asking them, is seeing how many keep in touch with their alma mater. Schools with armies of alumni on the rolls are, logically, schools with proud, happy graduates. And by this measure, no school offers a better educational experience, and a more valuable degree, than The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Big surprise! But while The Wharton School is no secret — an understatement: it’s the top undergrad B-school in the United States for the third year in a row in Poets&Quants for Undergrads‘ ranking — its distinction as the best of the best didn’t come about simply because of its high quality of instruction. That fact is also reflected in the 99,000 alumni the school reports in 153 countries on six continents. No other ranked school among the 75 total who reported alumni numbers in PQU‘s ranking came close, with the next school reporting more than 30,000 fewer active former students.
Wharton’s admissions standards and employment outcomes are well-known and contribute every year to its standing atop the PQU ranking. But this year the school also saw a big jump in alumni satisfaction, surging five spots from 14th to ninth in the alumni survey category, which led to Wharton beating the rest of the field by more than 10 index points. In other words, the best undergraduate B-school by far is actually getting better, according to those who know it best: the people who went there.
WHAT WHARTON DOES THAT ALUMNI LOVE
What does Wharton do that keeps alumni in the fold long after they’ve left the school’s hallowed halls? Lots, beginning with outreach. The school boasts 77 active regional and affinity Wharton Alumni Clubs that “provide support and opportunities for Wharton graduates worldwide,” according to the school’s website. The clubs give grads a chance to “meet fellow Wharton alumni, trade ideas, find employees and jobs, develop new initiatives, form partnerships, and discuss economics.” Likewise, “As a Wharton alum, you’ll have access to Lifelong Learning with extraordinary resources — online, on campus, and in regions worldwide.”
Wharton also runs a series of colloquia run by graduates on topics not usually found in undergraduate business curricula, such as “Managing Your Career Like a Brand,” “Being a Young Woman in Business Today,” “How to Use Your Wharton Degree to Save the World,” “Starting Your Own Company: When is the Right Time,” and “Becoming a CEO Before You’re 40.” The colloquia are held year-round in locations around the world.
“Alumni are constantly coming to campus to talk to current students about their experiences and to provide advice,” the school says, adding that WhartonConnect allows undergraduate alumni the means not only to connect with each other but with some of Penn’s more than 300,000 alumni around the world as well.
ELSEWHERE IN THE RANKING
Wharton is followed on our list of schools with active alumni networks by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, with 68,003 alumni, and Texas A&M Mays Business School, with 65,000. Four more schools in our ranking boast alumni populations of 60,000 or more: Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business (63,692), the University of Georgia Terry College of Business (62,823), the University of Illinois Gies College of Business (62,000), and Northern Illinois University (60,718).
After that come nine schools with between 40,000 and 49,000 alumni, led by NYU Stern School of Business (48,424), the University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business (46,250), and Miami University Farmer School of Business (45,159). Hult International Business School, with 2,181 alumni, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute Foisie Business School, with 2,000.
See the next page for a complete list of the 75 schools in this year’s ranking that provided data on their alumni networks.