In case you are asking yourself: “What should I study”? Or: “Should I study business management?”, then this article is probably not going to help you. If you already started a research on the best business schools, because you think a degree in business might be the right thing for you, take a minute to check out important facts that should be taken into consideration, when choosing an university and its business faculty. The first question is always whether you will pursue a masters or undergraduate degree and what kind of business programs suit you. It is hard to find out when you have so many great options, like business administration, business management or international business. One way to find out is to check out the universities you would like to study in. Is it MIT vs Harvard Business School, or the London Business School, Oxford vs Cambridge?
When it comes to choosing a university for your field of study, the choice always depends on the faculty of the uni. So let’s take a look at the important aspects of business schools.
There are some general aspects of a university’s faculty that will have an impact on your life as a student and might be worth considering. For instance, it might be important to know in which year the university and its business faculty have been established, since the university's long history can indicate excellent traditions and more resources. The oldest universities in the world you will find in Europe and North Africa, with the University of Bologna being the oldest one going back to 1088. The oldest university in the US is the Harvard University, established in 1636.
The number of enrolled students including the number of undergraduate and graduate students are important, because a bigger university offers you better possibilities of networking and usually an access to better resources. Bigger business schools in the US are for example the W. P. Carey School with more than 10000 enrolled students, the UQ Business School with more than 7300 and the McCombs School with more 6300 students. Schools with a higher number of undergraduate students, like W. P. Carey School and the Fisher College of Business, often have a bigger choice of undergraduate programs. A higher number of Masters and PhD students can indicate that the university has a research focus (UQ Business School, min. 5850, Leonard N. Stern School, min. 3370 and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, min. 3300).
If research plays an important role for you, the university’s budget spent on research and research rankings might be important indicators for the research focus of the uni and also an indicator for the university’s quality. The universities with the highest research focus, also due to their endowment, are almost all in the US. The business schools with the highest ranking concerning published articles are Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Harvard Business School and Ross School of Business, while the Business School for the World (INSEAD) still makes it to the top 15, being the best university in research outside the US. The size of an university's endowment tells a lot about its quality, especially with business schools, since a wealthy school will not only have a big budget for research, but will also have the best staff, better technology in well preserved historical buildings and more larger budget for scholarships to keep their best students. Hence, if you want to see the quality of an university’s faculty, the budget spent on research, the number of academic staff members and the student to staff ratio are great indicators, but the endowment is a much more important indicator, which you can also see upon the strong correlation between endowment and ranking. The business schools with the largest endowment in the US are Harvard ($3.3 bill.), Stanford Graduate School of Business ($1.392 bill.) and the Wharton School ($1.289 bill.).
Considering academic education the number of programs offered also play a big role for every student, including double degree programs and entrepreneurship programs. Double degree programs offer you the opportunity to do part of your studies abroad, while entrepreneurship programs can make developing creative ideas regarding company building and development easier. Of course, if studying abroad is what you would like to do, you should check out your university's partner universities around the world to make sure you can actually study where you would like to study.
When deciding for a university, one major aspect is definitely the financial question, meaning the tuition per year and the financial aid. With universities it is not much different than with the rest in life: With quality comes more expense. Especially in the USA, the best universities are as well the most expensive ones, being also the most expensive ones in the world, starting with Harvard Business School ($126,576) followed by Wharton School ($121,610) and by Columbia Business School ($118,424).
Business schools with lower tuition fees
If you didn’t plan to go to Harvard and Co. there are quite good and affordable universities in the US and around the world. Here you can check out the least expensive business schools in the US, and the 10 best and affordable business schools in the world including the IIM-Ahmedabad (IIMA-$36,252), one of the leading business schools in India and the Asia-Pacific region, the ESMT, which is located in Berlin ($41,276) and the SDA Bocconi School of Management, in Milano ($52,148). According to the FAIRFX ranking, countries which have good universities and are quite cheap to study in are, for example, India, Germany, Poland and Denmark, considering tuition fees and the cost of living. Countries that are expensive considering these aspects are Australia, followed by Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K. Especially for international students, places like Germany, France, the Nordic Countries and Austria are interesting, since they offer university places, either for free or for low tuition fees. Here, you can find out more about the cheapest places to study abroad but it is always important to check out the university’s tuition per year for international students, in case you want to study abroad.
Due to the high cost of some universities, financial aid plays a big role for students, especially when studying in the U.S. If you are depending on financial aid and you plan to study in the U.S., business schools, like the Collins College of Business (University of Tulsa), the Gabelli School of Business (Fordham University), the Sloan School of Management (MIT) and the Marshall School of Business (University of Southern California) might be interesting for you, since they provide a fair financial aid packages and the chances of getting financial help is quite high.
When deciding for a business school the question of value for money comes up, since you want to make sure that you will be able to pay your debts after graduating. There are several parameters included when calculating the value for money. A major factor is the salary today which is the average alumni salary three years after graduation in US$ PPP equivalent. Other factors included are the fees, course length and other costs, including lost income during the studies. Here you can find out which business school has a higher value for money, Harvard Business School vs MIT Sloan School or any other universities you would like to know more about.
In the following paragraph we will take a look at the ranking and prestige which will definitely have a big influence on the decisionmaking process.
When it comes to choosing a university and its faculty everyone wishes to study at the best and most prestigious one. The prestige of an university can firstly be seen by the number of applicants, since a high number of applicants can indicate that an university is in high demand and has a good overall image and reputation. A low acceptance rate makes it difficult to get a place, and also can indicate the prestige and high education level, since the universities only pick the best students. If you want to get a better picture of the best business schools in the US or the best business schools in the world, there are several rankings, which can give you a good indication of the universities’ quality.
Rankings - ARWU
One of the most famous rankings for universities is the Academic Ranking of World Universities, which uses six objective indicators to rank world universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of articles published in journals, number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index, and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution. According to the ARWU the best business schools in 2015 were Harvard Business School, the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and MIT Sloan School (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Forbes & CO.
The Forbes US colleges ranking, on the other hand, focuses more on the things that matter the most to students, like the quality of teaching, great career prospects, high graduation rates and low-levels of debt. According to Forbes, Harvard is on the second place outdated by Stanford Graduate School of Business, while Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management) is on the third place.
The QS World University Rankings, which is more about the academic reputation, bases its results on responses to a survey distributed among academics worldwide and sees Harvard on first, the London Business School on second and the Business School for the World on third place. When it comes to choosing a Master of Business Administration the Economist’s MBA ranking, is a good indicator.
One of the biggest worries after graduating is whether one will be employed. The Forbes ranking actually looks at the percentage of graduates finding employment within three months after leaving the faculty, according to which the Tuck School of Business (Dartmouth College) has a 98% rate, the Booth School of Business (University of Chicago) has 97% and the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) 96% rate, being the highest rates among the 15 best ranking universities.
The average alumni salary three years after graduation is pretty much in correlation to the ranking, meaning that the best ranking business schools also have the highest payed alumni, starting with Stanford Graduate School of Business and $255K per year.
The time as a student is probably the most important and exciting time in your life and factors that influence your life outside the university’s classrooms have to be taken into consideration too. This includes your living situation and student networking. So check out whether the universities you consider have university dorms and especially how many, since living outside the campus in a private accommodation can be quite expensive, especially when your university is in a city with a high cost of living. There are many alternative housing options for student, but living in the university’s own halls of residence means living only with students, which can provide an exciting social life.
For an active life outside the classes, universities often support a wide range of extracurricular activities, like sports, drama, choir classes, research trips, etc. allowing every student to pursue a hobby next to their academical interest.
Many colleges, high schools and especially universities have student unions, allowing students to engage themselves in social and organisational activities, representation and academic support of the membership, which leads to more contacts and a more exciting student life.
The social contacts often continue even after graduating within alumni associations, which are formed by graduates or former students of universities and colleges, enabling the alumni to stay in contact over years.