Wharton Finishes First For Fourth Straight Year In Poets&Quants Undergraduate B-School Rankings

Students from Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce. Virginia McIntire photo

BUSINESS REMAINS MOST POPULAR MAJOR

Business continues to be the most popular major, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data. The most recent data available from NCES shows nearly 400,000 undergraduate business degrees were awarded in the 2017-2018 academic year — much higher than the next most popular category, health professions and related programs, which was just under 250,000 degrees awarded. No doubt, schools must continue to innovate and improve to stay competitive not just among themselves but also with students increasingly interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees.

Innovating in curricular and extra-curricular offerings is one way in which schools stay competitive. This spring, Wharton will graduate its first class to go through a revamped curriculum. Fundamental to Wharton’s new program is a series of courses called the Leadership Journey. It starts in freshmen year with Business & You which invites students to be introspective about their values and direction. “What we are trying to do is develop effective, ethical leaders who are making responsible decisions for business and society,” says Vice Dean Robertson. “It starts in their first year when students take Wharton 101 which is where students think about their values and their goals.” 

In year two, students take an intimate business communication course in classes that number fewer than ten students. During junior year, Wharton dives deep into teamwork and collaboration. In the final year, students are thrown into an integrative capstone to apply the knowledge they’ve learned throughout the program.

Wharton’s vast faculty keeps the school on top of the latest business trends. There’s a new course for undergrads on artificial intelligence along with a new data science finance. The school’s business analytics concentration, one of 20 options, has become one of the most popular at the school. 

Robertson says the new curriculum was “designed to increase flexibility for students to explore and pursue areas of individual interest, double leadership content, and increase emphasis on innovation and technology, ethics and social values, and the global economy.” Part of the focus includes the development of leadership skills, self-awareness, business communication, and team performance, she says.

When we asked alumni to elaborate on their signature experiences, the senior capstone at Wharton which takes place over three days clearly resonated as one of the most popular aspects of the program. “There were about 80 students participating, divided into eight teams, each representing a company,” one 2018 alum told us in the alumni survey.  In addition to negotiating and forming alliances with other companies, the simulation included interaction with simulated governments, as well as environmental impacts. We also had alumni present who constituted the board of directors for each company and served as advisors after a presentation made to them, as well as a leadership facilitator who sat in all the team discussions and helped us reflect on the experience and our communication and teamwork skills at the end of the program. It was quite superbly executed.”

VIRGINIA MCINTIRE’S CLASSIC ‘ICE’ CURRICULUM STILL A HIT AMONG ALUMNI

While Wharton is touting its new programming, Virginia’s McIntire School boasts a classic curriculum that remains highly popular. The Integrated Core Experience (ICE) is always one of the most popular aspects of the program singled out by alums. ICE goes beyond the classroom curriculum and places students with companies to solve real problems they are facing. “The ICE program at UVA is unparalleled,” one 2018 alumni told us. “It is challenging, but immediately immerses you into the world of business in a way that allows you to apply macroeconomic trends to immediate business needs. It is essential for the success of McIntire graduates.”

Said another: “McIntire’s ICE curriculum includes a semester-long project in which you work with a sponsor company — think large corporations such as Hilton and Altria — that helped us apply what we had learned in the classroom to a real-life problem and get feedback from both professionals and faculty.”

A BRIEF LOOK AT THE NEWEST TOP-10 SCHOOL

Georgia Tech’s undergraduate program allows students to complete all degree requirements, one semester abroad, and two internship semesters in four years. Additionally, like Wharton, students are admitted directly to Scheller in their first year so they can kick-start their business education immediately. “Our undergraduate students benefit from an innovation and technology focus in the classroom that translates to robust and stellar careers,” Craig Womack, the director of undergraduate programs at Scheller told us. “We excel at weaving technology into all aspects of the business classroom.”

One of the cornerstone offerings and unique experiences at Scheller is the Denning Technology & Management (T&M) Program. Through it, students can earn a 22-credit-hour minor with tracks in such areas as Computing & Business, Engineering & Business, and Technology & Business. T&M students study managing emerging technologies and new product and services development. The program is topped off with an integrated capstone project course, where they work in teams to focus on a specific problem posed by one of the program’s Corporate Affiliates.

“This project allowed me to connect to my first employer, who then connected me to my current job,” one 2018 alumni told us. “I worked in a cross-functional team to research and develop an innovative solution to an actual problem at the company chosen for my capstone project.”

RANKINGS AND KEY DATA ON THE FOLLOWING PAGES

No ranking that measures puts numerical rankings on business schools is perfect, of course. We’ve created this ranking as a starting point for those interested in pursuing business education. Be sure to take the time to read the individual school profiles and data-driven stories that are based on our proprietary metrics. Take a look at the previous three rankings as well and look at how schools have changed over time. A college decision is an increasingly important one. It’s one of the biggest investments of a person’s life and should not be taken lightly. So take a look at the full rankings on the next page and some key data points that helped create it. Consult our ranking as a launching point for a process that should be intentional, well-researched, and thoughtful.