The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has been perennial power of our undergraduate ranking, topping the list of the Best Undergraduate Business Schools for five straight years. Thought it slipped to No. 3 for the 2023 ranking, it remains one of the best programs in the country. The reason? Wharton has tough admissions standards. It enrolls top students, gives them a top-notch undergraduate business education, and places them into coveted jobs.
Of the three methodological categories, Wharton led in the Admissions Standards. It also placed third in the Career Outcomes category. At 6.3%, Wharton’s acceptance was a bit less selective than last year’s rate of 6.03% but more selective than the 7.62% acceptance rate for the Class of 2020. It has third toughest acceptance rate of all ranked undergraduate B-Schools for the fall entering class, coming in right behind Cornell’s rate of 4.17% and Northeastern’s D’Amore McKim’s 5.73%. As far as average SAT scores go, the Class of 2022 reported a score of 1519, up from 1497 the year before.
Up 2% from last year, 99% of the Class of 2022 had at least one business-focused internship before graduation compared last year’s 97%. Wharton also placed 98.43% of its 2022 graduates in full-time positions — up from 96.74% for the Class of 2021. Wharton graduates reported the highest average salaries in their jobs immediately after graduating, earning a whopping $100,655. That’s up from last year’s already eye-popping $85,345. This year’s grads also reported and average signing bonus of $13,247, the third highest of all ranked schools.
SENIOR CAPSTONE PROJECT MOST POPULAR ‘SIGNATURE EXPERIENCE’ AMONG RECENT GRADS
Among the respondents to our survey of the Class of 2019 Wharton graduates, over two-thirds of alumni, 69.05%, reported having at least one “signature experience.” Alumni mentioned launching startups and working on research projects as some of those signature experiences. But the most popular experience mentioned was the senior capstone.
“I also participated in Wharton’s Senior Capstone, which took place over three days,” one 2018 alum told us in the alumni survey. “There were about 80 students participating, divided into eight teams, each representing a company. 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.”
As part of the survey, we asked alumni to rate various experiences of their program on a scale from one-to-ten. When asked if they believe their degree was worth its cost in time and resources, 2019 Wharton graduates gave an average score of 9.74 — higher than all other ranked undergraduate schools.
When asked how much the alumni network assisted 2019 alumni throughout their careers, Wharton also earned the highest average score — a 9.76.
An exquisite 100% of 2019 alumni said their first jobs after graduation were in their desired industry, yet just over 69% said their job was at a desired company, for better or worse, which was low compared to other schools.
NEARLY TWO-DOZEN CONCENTRATIONS AND 50 STUDENT-RUN ORGANIZATIONS AND CLUBS
Wharton boasts a flexible curriculum. Business students are required to complete 22 business courses, 10 electives based in liberal arts and sciences, and five more unrestricted electives anywhere in the Penn community. Wharton offers nearly two dozen concentrations for students looking to specialize. Those concentrations include traditional business fundamentals like accounting, finance, and marketing as well as relatively new areas like social impact and responsibility, managing electronic commerce, and business analytics.
For out of the classroom experience, Wharton also has nearly 50 student-run organizations and clubs including the Black Wharton Undergraduate Association, Social Impact Consulting, and Wharton Women.
In 2022, Wharton became the first top-ranked business school to appoint a Black woman as dean when it announced the hiring of Erika James. A former dean of Emory’s Goizueta Business School, James boosted faculty diversity while increasing programs and fundraising during her time at Emory. She has already made national headlines for the potential she has to put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of the Wharton experience.
According to our rankings, Wharton continues to be the creme of the business school crop for undergraduate business education.
“I had a unique privilege to be in the first class of Penn-Wharton Public Policy Research Scholars (PPRS) for which I completed a policy capstone my senior year. This was a certificate program allowing accepted students from the four different undergraduate schools at UPenn to delve into public policy and research during our sophomore through senior years through lectures, skill training, travel opportunities, and special industry guests. I also completed a senior thesis through the Wharton Research Scholars program which was a full year of working with faculty to complete a novel research project of our choosing. Finally, although not directly connected to Wharton, I had the opportunity to work at Perry World House as a Student Fellow ultimately due to the generosity of Wharton and other UPenn alumni.”
“I got to learn Data Science + Statistics at an MBA level, and completed a project as a Volunteer Data Scientist Consultant with Planned Parenthood. I now do a lot of work with data + tech, so having the experience of working with a real client to solve a real data challenge for them gave me a lot more to talk about in interviews, and enabled me to share real world examples of how I could contribute to the organization I was applying to.”
“I wrote two theses, one on Islamic Finance and another on the business problems behind machine learning in healthcare. They were pivotal in allowing me to develop in-depth, SME-level expertise in a particular sub-area which I was then able to deploy in the workplace, setting me apart from others and allowing me to rise faster.”
“I participated in a Global Modular Course that had both MBAs and undergrads – it was a Tech and Entrepreneurship program in Bangalore, India, and it was hosted in the campus of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), which is the second most prestigious business school in India. We had exposure to several different Indian startups and VCs, as well as the opportunity to work on a project for them. It was also really cool to interact with some IIM-B MBA students who were part of the course as well – it helped build connections in different countries and helped me understand the Indian startup ecosystem better.”
“Series of social impact courses- interviewing industry leaders and brainstorming ways to integrate business school learnings into the impact world. I also was involved with Ideas for Action- an initiative between Wharton, the World Bank, and IMF to help support innovative global small businesses and initiatives to address global development issues.”