Wharton Repeats As Top-Ranked P&Q Undergraduate Business School

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania placed first for the second year in a row in the Poets&Quants Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking. Courtesy photo

Different year, same winner.

For the second year in a row, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania finished atop the Poets&Quants Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking. Wharton is a powerhouse of opportunity. Students lucky enough to overcome the School’s high admission hurdles are awarded with one of the best undergraduate teaching experiences in the world. And when they graduate, world-class employers are waiting for the school’s graduates with open arms. Some 95% of the graduates land jobs within three months of commencement at starting base salaries and sign-on bonuses that bring starting pay to a record $92,057 this year.

“If you have Wharton graduate next to your name, it’s something that is going to define the next 40 years of your life and set you up for a lot of success,” says Wharton Class of 2016 graduate Garrett Breeden. “Obviously, just because you went to Wharton doesn’t mean your path is paved in gold and you don’t have to work hard. You still absolutely do have to work hard, but it sets you up with an incredible network of peers and alums.”


However, this year the gap between Wharton and our second-place finisher was considerably smaller than it was in 2017. Last year Wharton scored a composite total of 295.12 points out of a possible total of 300. The next highest school was Washington University’s  Olin Business School in St. Louis with 272.40 points. This year, the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce surged to second place, notching a total composite score of 282.01, very nearly topping Wharton’s 284.27. Washington University’s Olin Business School came in third, with an impressive score of 269.61 points.

This year, akin to the previous two versions of the ranking, Poets&Quants equally weighed three core categories — admissions standards, the student experience, and career outcomes — to calculate the ranking. In the first rendition of the rankings, Washington University’s Olin Business School won the overall contest with strong showings in all three individual categories. For the past two years, Wharton has claimed the top spot in both admissions standards and career outcomes. Also for the past two years, Virginia’s McIntire School placed first in the student experience category, which is a survey of alumni who graduated two years ago.

In fourth place, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business catapulted from its 13th place finish last year, taking a very even approach, placing 11th in the student experience and fifth in the admissions standards and career outcomes. Following Michigan is the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, which dropped one spot from last year’s fourth place finish. Villanova’s School of Business also made a nine-spot leap from 17th to eighth place this year. The other newcomer to the top ten is Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, which was ranked for the first time this year.

Despite a closer finish, Wharton’s No. 1 ranking on our third annual list solidifies the school’s prestige and undergraduate business education acumen.


Unlike many other rankings that try to measure the quality of education at universities around the country and world, Poets&Quants puts a laser-like focuson hard data reported by the B-schools and alumni (see 2018 Ranking: How We Crunched The Numbers). Each year, P&Q asks schools and alumni their graduates to complete extensive surveys that have been developed in collaboration with deans and administrators at leading business schools. The surveys are updated and improved based on feedback from school administrators in February and March.

The admissions standards category is based on acceptance rates, average SAT scores, and the percentage of students finishing in the top 10% of their high school classes. All data is from the most recent entering class (fall of 2018) and reported by the participating schools. Career outcomes is composed of the percentage of business-related internships completed by graduation, the percentage of students with full-time employment within three months of graduation (out of those seeking employment), and the average total compensation package (including salary and signing bonus).

As is true with our measurement of admissions standards, all career outcomes data is based on the most recent graduating class (2018). Lastly, the student experience category is based on data collected from a survey of the Class of 2016. This year, the Class of 2016’s responses were given a 75% weight and the remaining 25% went to last year’s survey of the Class of 2015. All together,nearly 13,000 alumni responses were included in  the ranking.


A record 88 schools were included in this year’s ranking. Another five schools submitted school survey data but did not meet the minimum response rate in the alumni survey. All schools included on the ranking represent the very best accredited business schools in the U.S. Schools are invited to participate based on their performance in previous rankings. Across the board, these are the schools admitting and educating elite young talent.

Wharton’s rise to the top of the list begins in the admissions standards category. With a 6.49% acceptance rate, it’s tougher to get into Wharton’s undergraduate program than its full-time MBA program which has an acceptance rate nearly three times higher at just under 20%. Eight schools have an acceptance rate that is as selective or more selective than the 11% admit rate at the full-time MBA program at Harvard Business School (see Acceptance Rates At The Top Undergraduate Business Schools). Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management is the most selective this year, sending invites to just 2.9% of applicants for fall 2018 entry. The average acceptance rate among all 88 ranked schools for the entering Class of 2018 was 43.7%

In terms of average SAT scores for the incoming Class of 2018, Washington University’s Olin Business School boasted the highest score at 1,510 on the new 1600-point scoring scale. Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business followed with 1,494. The University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business followed with a 1,490 average. Wharton was next, averaging 1,486. The average SAT among all participating schools was 1,308, a score in the 87th percentile, meaning that only 13% of all test takers scored that well or better.

For the percentage of students finishing in the top 10% of their high school class, the University of California-Irvine’s Merage School of Business topped all our ranked schools with 98% of its graduating Class of 2016 finishing in the top 10%. Wharton followed with 97%. Washington University, Virginia’s McIntire School, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business all notched scores of 90% or higher in the category. Among all schools, the average students finishing in the top 10% of their high school class was 47%.

The 2018 Special Report On Undergraduate Business Education

Ranking The Best Undergraduate Business Schools In The U.S.

How We Crunched The Numbers To Come Up With Our Ranking

2018 Report Card: How Business Majors Grade Their Own Undergraduate Programs

Acceptance Rates For The Best Undergraduate Business Programs

Average SAT Scores At The Top Undergraduate Business Schools

Best Business Schools For Landing A Job Right Out Of College

Starting Salaries For Business Majors In 2018

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