When it comes to marketing, no undergraduate school has a better reputation than the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. While it’s hardly the only place to major in the subject, Wharton consistently tops the list of the best undergraduate programs in finance put together annually by U.S. News & World Report.
The schools that dominate the top of the finance ranking are well-known players in business education. Right behind Wharton on the 2017 list, published in September, are the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business. Those are powerhouse business schools that excel in nearly every discipline, but take top honors on the U.S. News list for finance.
On its latest ranking, U.S. News places numerical ranks on 30 business schools that offer the best finance majors. Even though this ranking is flawed (we’ll explain why below), the top of the U.S. News list is a pretty reliable ranking of the best. We think the programs ranked first to 15th are pretty solid.
|U.S. News’ 2017 Ranking Of The Best Undergraduate Finance Programs
|1. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School)
|2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management)
|3. New York University (Stern School of Business)
|4. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)
|5. University of Texas (McCombs School of Business)
|6. University of California-Berkeley (Haas School of Business
|7. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Business School)
|8. Indiana University (Kelley School of Business)
|9. University of Virginia (McIntire School of Commerce)
|10. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)
|11. Boston College (arroll School of Management)
|12. Ohio State University (Fisher College of Business)
|12. Fordham University (Gabelli School of Business)
|13. Xavier University (Williams College of Business)
|15. Fairfield University (Dolan School of Business)
Source: U.S. News & World Report 2017 specialty rankings
WHAT DOES BEST IN A RANKING REALLY MEAN?
In this case, best typically means that the professors are at the leading edge of knowlege in their fields and that a school boasts an expansive portfolio of finance courses taught by a good number of financial experts in investment management, private equity, hedge funds and more. It also means that the major financial service firms heavily rely on these highly ranked schools for talent.
At No. 1 Wharton, that means a course catalog of 28 different finance courses, ranging from the Finance of Buyouts and Acquisitions and Infrastructure Investing to Impact Investing and Strategic Equity Finance. Wharton’s concentration in finance develops the skills necessary to work at a high level of expertise in all areas of finance, in both the private as well as public sectors. In addition, concentrating in finance equips students well for careers in law and government, and not simply in the private sector.
The ranking is solely based on U.S. News’ peer assessment poll of deans and senior faculty, which often turns it into more of a popularity contest that rewards well-known school brands more than the actual quality of the program. These deans and professors – two at each AACSB-accredited business program – are asked to nominate the 10 best programs in marketing.
For this finance list, U.S. News ranks schools in descending order simply by the number of mentions each school receives from the responding deans and professors. But at the top of the list, where there is greater consensus among deans and faculty, you can trust that these schools are truly exceptional in teaching finance. The bottom half of the list is less trustworthy, largely because it only takes seven votes to make the list and it’s known that some schools have collaborated with each other to land on the ranking.
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