Businessweek Undergraduate Ranking 2016: Decoding Bloomberg’s Latest Business School Rankings
Posted April 21, 2016 by Lee Davidson
- Coordinator, Copywriter/Editor - AACSB International
The business of ranking business schools is fiercely competitive among major media groups like U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, the Economist, and Forbes, among others. However, often absent from these lists are undergraduate business programs; the majority focus on MBA programs and the subtypes of MBA programs specifically (online, global, full-time, executive, etc.). Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek, one of the only other major contenders for undergraduate rankings besides U.S. News, ceased to produce an undergraduate ranking, having suspended their program. But this year they’ve made one last play in the undergrad rankings game, with a revised methodology for their Best Undergrad Business Schools of 2016.
New and Improved? Businessweek’s Undergrad Business School Ranking Methodology
Businessweek’s former model for ranking undergraduate business programs included many of the same components as this year’s, but it previously considered “academic quality metrics” that seem to be either dropped or folded into surveys this year. The current methodology includes four main components: an employer survey (40 percent), a student survey (35 percent), and data on internships (10 percent) and starting salaries for alumni (15 percent). Modifications to the 2016 rankings were made to more strongly emphasize workforce readiness: “This year, we’ve eliminated several parts of our old rankings model that do not speak directly to career preparation, including time spent on homework and average SAT score, and we’ve updated our surveys to focus more clearly on jobs.” In fact, the employer survey has doubled in weight, having contributed just 20 percent to a school’s rank in 2014. Poets & Quants editor John Byrne is highly critical of this approach to ranking undergrad business schools, and for good reason.
Says Who? A Closer Look at the Employer Survey
Because it holds the most weight in determining a so-called best business school ranking for undergraduate programs, the employer survey is worth delving into deeper. Businessweek surveyed 1,079 recruiters across 582 companies. The recruiters were identified by both Businessweek and business schools who cooperated with Businessweek, although there doesn’t appear to be a survey for business schools in the revised ranking methodology, so how Businessweek determined which schools to work with in collecting employer information is unclear. What is known, however, is that the employers that participated in the survey identified up to “10 schools at which they had significant recruiting experience in the past five years.” The employers then assessed, based on placement estimates, how well the graduates of those schools performed at their jobs during 2013 and 2014. In theory, this latter assessment would reflect a school’s preparation of students for the workplace. In practice, however, other factors—such as job fit and company culture—should also be considered in the employee’s job performance.
The World Is Vast; Businessweek Rankings Are Not
Bloomberg—the media conglomerate that produces Businessweek publications, including rankings—is a global organization. However, its “Best Undergrad Business Schools” only take into account U.S. schools. AACSB International accredits more than 760 business schools across 52 countries and territories—not just one country. This is significant in an increasingly connected world and for the coming generations of workers, which includes highly mobile millennials and their successors, Generation Z, often referred to as the “globals.” Many undergraduate business degrees are now designed to attract student cohorts from across the globe for a truly international experience.
When looking at rankings that purport to include top business schools, keep in mind that arriving at rankings is a tricky business. A truer measure of quality includes thorough and regular program assessments by industry experts, which is the primary purpose that AACSB Accreditation serves. But don’t take our word for it; take to heart Businessweek’s final message to prospective students: “Don’t let rankings alone make your school decision for you.”
AACSB International is providing this information in order to help prospective students understand the nuances among different rankings and how they are calculated. AACSB does not support or endorse any specific ranking methodology and encourages students to consider AACSB Accreditation as part of their search criteria when evaluating business school programs for fit, quality of education, and career success.