To calculate each school’s index score, the salary category was weighted heaviest at 35% (and was gathered from PayScale data of business major graduates 10 years or more out of school). Affordability was given a weight of 30% and was based on cost of tuition and average scholarship amounts awarded, which was reported by The Institute for College Access and Success and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The amount of debt students take on was weighted at 20% and was also culled from 2012-2013 data from The Institute for College Access and Success. Finally, median SAT scores pulled from the Chronicle of Higher Education were used to calculate the school’s prestige, which was given a 15% weight.
NerdWallet’s ROI ranking also differed from PayScale’s March ROI ranking, which looked at 20-year salary returns, total cost of tuition, and average student debt in terms of methodology. Both rankings placed UC-Berkeley at the top of the list. PayScale’s list ranked North Carolina at 15th, with BYU missing the top 25 altogether. Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania ranked second. It should be noted NerdWallet’s ranking did not include out-of-state tuition.
TRADITIONAL VERSUS ROI RANKINGS
Where traditional rankings such as Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S. News, and others rely on surveys from school faculty and employers to create rankings, NerdWallet and other ROI rankings use hard-data points and numbers. And the differences are large. The Poets&Quants rankings weights Businessweek and U.S. News b-school rankings and combines them with U.S. News’ rankings of overall universities because business students will also be taking classes outside of the b-school. P&Q places Pennsylvania’s Wharton at the top. Second-placed Cornell University is 27th on NerdWallet’s list. Notre Dame, third on the P&Q list is 29th.
When comparing Poets&Quants’ ranking with NerdWallet, there are some obvious schools that hit the sweet-spot of traditional prestige and good ROI. For example, the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce comes in 4th on both rankings. Berkeley-Haas ranks 6th for P&Q and 1st in NerdWallet. The University of North Carolina also boasts strong results, ranked 9th by P&Q and 2nd by NerdWallet.
In terms of private schools, St. Louis’ University of Washington Olin School of Business ranks 5th by P&Q and 13th by NerdWallet. Pennsylvania’s Wharton is 1st and 16th. And Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business is 11th and 26th.
To see NerdWallet’s top 100, go here.