Whether your aim is to head up your own world-dominating corporation or to work your way up to the executive level in a global firm, having a business degree or MBA under your belt is an excellent first step. But with so many colleges across the country offering studies in management and business, it’s difficult to know which is likely to provide the best education and the most post-study opportunities.
A recent ranking by College Factual – taking into account factors like overall quality of education, and the starting and mid-career salaries of graduates – helps to shed light on which business schools are the most worthy of attending. Here are the top 10.
Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
Warren Buffet went there. So did Elon Musk and Donald Trump. And they know enough about business to have made lasting names for themselves well beyond the corporate world. They’re counted among the notable alumni of The Wharton School, the business school of private Ivy League university U Penn, which claims the number one spot on the list. What makes it stand out from the crowd? Wharton is able to call itself the “first collegiate business school” in the world. It’s flexible: 40 percent of coursework is taken outside the school of business, 27 percent of students study abroad, and over 30 percent graduate with more than one degree from Penn. It’s also surprisingly affordable. Penn meets 100 percent of a student’s determined financial need and says that students who qualify for need-based aid will not have their financial aid supplied as loans.
Founded in 1917, Bentley is a business-focused, private co-educational university located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Their undergraduate management program offers students four specific areas to specialize in: Entrepreneurship, Global management, Human resources management and Leadership – but that doesn’t mean students will lack a broader knowledge. The management degree overall takes a “generalist approach” so students are fully equipped to deal with all areas of management, including negotiating contracts, writing business plans, managing teams, problem solving, and using information technology for decision making. Bentley also have a highly regarded graduate business program which offers a wide range of specialty areas.
University of California, Berkeley
Being close to Silicon Valley might just account for some of Berkeley’s allure: students can practically smell the business opportunities wafting over on the Californian breeze. On the whole, Berkeley is regarded as one of the worlds leading academic institutions thanks to the size and quality of its facilities, its first-class programs and its notable faculty and students (among its alumni, for example, are 72 Nobel Prize winners, 20 Academy Award winners and 11 Pulitzer Prize winning authors). Berkeley’s Haas Business School is the second-oldest business school in the United States, offering a management specialty to over 2,200 students a year in one of its six degree-granting programs. Haas often lands on best-of lists thanks to its small class size, tough selectivity, and academic rigor. Haas’s offerings include Undergraduate programs, Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programs, PhD programs and a Master of Financial Engineering Program.
United States Military Academy
From notable generals to foreign heads of state, 18 NASA astronauts to two U.S Presidents (Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower), the United States Military Academy can lay claim to an impressive list of alumni in the political field. But you’ll also find a number of high-flying CEOs, company founders and business people on the list of ex-students, with the academy’s economics and management studies being among some of the best. Also known as West Point, the New York-based United States Military Academy is free to attend in exchange for a service commitment: upon graduation, a student will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and serve for five years on active duty. Beyond that, career options are broad, with students given the choice of advancing in their Army career or returning to civilian life. If they choose to stay on, the Army covers the cost of all training, travel, and advanced education. “You could eventually work in the Pentagon, command a large troop unit, or serve as a military attaché in a foreign country,” West Point notes, making their military opportunities sound rather alluring. For business graduates, life after the Military Academy could turn out any number of ways, with West Point graduates being highly regarded by employees.
United States Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy offers students another option for free study, with cadets attaining a costly education (“an Academy education is valued at more than $416,000,” states the institution’s website) at no cost. In exchange students have to give up a considerable chunk of their time, however, with a length of commitment to serve depending upon their chosen career path and other opportunities. At a minimum, students must agree to serve as a commissioned officer in the Air Force for at least eight years after graduation, five of which must be active duty, while the remainder can be served as inactive reserve. For those completing pilot training the commitment is even longer, at 10 years. Still, if you don’t mind having to serve, the Air Force Academy offers a great option for education, and as a business student you’ll complete in-depth studies in the management field and will end up well-versed in a range of topics including those of marketing and accounting.
Founded in 1789, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C is the oldest traditionally Jesuit university in the United States. Major fields like Law and Medicine are covered by the institution, while the McDonough School of Business hosts some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive degree and open enrolment programs, leaving them well-equipped to enter the business and management world. The McDonough School of Business has core courses in the traditional disciplines of accounting, finance, marketing, and management, supported by the decision sciences. Undergraduate students have the advantage of potentially landing a career placement at a highly-regarded company, which the institution helps to secure. Some of the most notable employees are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, Bank of America, IBM, and Citigroup, allowing alumni to get a foot in the door at a career-making organization.
University of Southern California
The Marshall School of Business is the largest of the University of Southern California’s 17 professional schools. Marshall has a strong focus on practical education, progressive thinking and a global outlook. Its internationally-recognized Entrepreneurship Program – which was established in 1972 – was the first of its kind in the United States, and Marshall boasts the first ever MBA course to require all first year full-time students to participate in international travel and study projects. It’s this first-hand international experience that helps to set Marshall graduates apart, with travels across the likes of Asia and Latin America allowing students to “soak up key lessons from established and emerging economies” as they participate in internships and interact with executives from Shanghai to Tokyo, Mexico to Europe.
Bucknell consists of just three major schools: Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Management. The School of Management prides itself on focused business studies with a strong element of interactive learning, and 45 percent of students spend a summer, semester or more studying off-campus. Students can choose from two tracks – management or accounting – with both leading to the Bachelor of Business Administration degree. The school’s “Management 101” course uses an innovative and collaborative method of educating students, in which they’re made to form their own companies, market products and conduct community service projects in a hands-on way. Other benefits of attending Bucknell’s School of Management are the class sizes – with a 9:1 student-faculty ratio – a strong campus culture, and a strong community spirit, with around 85 percent of seniors participating in voluntary work or community service.
Washington and Lee University
“We have but one rule here,” school president General Robert E. Lee once said of his university, “and it is that every student must be a gentleman.” Regardless of the field of study, the strict honor system still applies to every student at the Lexington, Virginia institution. Alongside Lee, President George Washington contributed to the rich history of the school by saving it from closure in 1796 with a healthy donation – hence the reason it still bares his name. The school offers 37 different majors and 22 minors and provides more than 1,100 courses. The Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics accounts for approximately forty percent of students, who graduate in areas including business administration, accounting or economics. Highly individualized programs, large campus grounds, active campus life, and small class sizes – with a student-faculty ratio of 8:1 – all contribute to the appeal of Washington and Lee as a place to complete a business education.
Bryant bills itself as a university with an innovative curriculum, where students have the opportunity to create their own paths. Established in 1863, the original mission of the institution was to educate Civil War veterans in the field of business – and over 150 years later it’s still turning out successful graduates in that chosen field. Located in Smithfield, Rhode Island, it’s set across a sprawling 428 acre campus, though despite its size still boasts highly individual attention – with no lecture halls and no teaching assistants meaning students really get to know their professors on an individual level. Bryant also offers specialized MBAs in the areas of global supply chain management (GSCM), global finance and international business.