The business world is notoriously competitive. To excel, you need a degree – but not just any degree. For many careers in the field of business, where you studied matters almost as much as whether you got a degree at all. Did you go to a school that has a good reputation? Did your degree program have anything unique – in the curriculum, extracurricular opportunities or faculty – that set it apart? Did you attain useful skills and valuable hands-on work experience that makes your degree something more than a piece of paper? Your future prospective employers are likely to ask all of these questions and more.
Knowing that you need to earn your degree from a respected school is the easy part. Determining if a school has a good reputation, and which school is right for you, can require a lot of research. Fortunately, you have help in the form of school rankings list that rate schools based on hard data and important ranking factors. To begin your college search, here are the top 10 undergraduate business schools in the United States. Each business program has earned specialized accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and high rankings by independent publications.
1. University of Pennsylvania
IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons, public domain
Unsurprisingly, some of America’s best business schools are part of Ivy League universities. Ranked number-one in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the undergraduate business program at the University of Pennsylvania earned high marks in more than half a dozen concentrations. These include:
- Real estate
- Quantitative analysis
- International business
- Management systems
- Production/Operations management
Business studies at the University of Pennsylvania are part of the Wharton School, which bills itself as “the first collegiate business school” and dates back to 1881. The Wharton School also integrates liberal arts studies into the curriculum so students get a well-rounded education with skills that go beyond what’s required for a typical business major.
While the standard degree at the Wharton School is the Bachelor of Science in Economics, the University of Pennsylvania has something for every aspiring businessperson. After all, what else would you expect from a university founded by Benjamin Franklin? Students enrolled in the Wharton School have 30 options of degrees and programs to complete, including a wide range of minors and concentrations as well as the opportunity to earn dual degrees. The school focuses on using cutting-edge technology and developing skills outside the classroom through innovating learning practices in research, conferences, international travel experiences and opportunities for leadership and entrepreneurship.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Enrollment: 10,406 undergraduate students
Tuition and fees: $49,536
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Did you think MIT’s prestigious reputation only extended to science, math and engineering studies? Actually, the school’s undergraduate business program ranks second in the country on U.S. News & World Report’s list. The school recently ranked best in the world on the QS World University Rankings.
Business studies at MIT fall under the Sloan School of Management. Undergraduate students typically earn a Bachelor of Science in Management Science degree that brings together coursework in accounting, computer programming, linear algebra, macroeconomics, managerial communication, managerial psychology, microeconomics, optimization methods, probability and statistics. They can also choose one of four concentrations to explore in-depth during the course of their education:
- Business analytics and operations research
- Information technology
- Marketing science
If you start your education at MIT, chances are good that you’ll want to stay here. With a 98 percent freshmen retention rate and a 91 percent six-year graduation rate, very few students transfer or drop out. Another perk is the opportunity to live on campus in “The Sponge,” dormitories so admired that 70 percent of MIT students choose to stay there even after the end of their freshman year.
Location: Cambridge, MA
Enrollment: 4,512 undergraduate students
3. University of California–Berkeley
Tied with MIT on the U.S. News & World Report rankings is the University of California, Berkeley. Unlike the first two schools on the list, the University of California, Berkeley – along with about half of the top 10 undergraduate business schools – is a public institution. UC Berkeley isn’t just any public college, though. It’s the number-one rated public school in the nation. This means students – especially those living in California – can get a first-class education at a fraction of the cost they would incur at an expensive private school.
UC Berkeley is home to the Haas School of Business, known as “the second-oldest business school in the United States.” Haas offers full-time MBAs, various master’s and Ph.D. programs and executive education in addition to its undergraduate programs. To earn a Bachelor of Science degree, all business majors at UC Berkeley take core business courses in subjects such as:
- Business communication
- Organizational behavior
Students can use their electives to delve deeper into desired subject areas like advanced accounting, brand management, corporate finance, and leadership. If you can’t wait to travel the world, consider the global management concentration, which allows you to integrate a study abroad experience into your business education.
Location: Berkeley, CA
Enrollment: 27,126 undergraduate students
Tuition: $11,220 in-state or $35,928 out-of-state
4. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Does your idea of a fulfilling education have as much to do with experiences outside the classroom as it does with what you learn in the classroom?
Taking fourth place on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best undergraduate business programs is the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which happens to be “one of the best college towns in the country.” If you’re interested in going Greek, the University of Michigan is the school for you. About 20 percent of all undergrads enrolled in the University take part in one of the school’s 60 fraternities and sororities, U.S. News reported. Don’t believe that extracurricular activities are limited to Greek life, though. The school is also home to 900 other clubs and organizations, so you can get involved in whatever ways most interest you.
When you earn a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of Michigan, you will be part of the Ross School of Business. Your instructors will be the same faculty members undertaking extensive research in accounting, business communication, business economics, public policy, business law, finance, management and organizations, marketing, strategy and technology and operations. Your curriculum will prepare you for success in fields like finance, marketing, consulting and entrepreneurship. It will also emphasize the principles of positive business – such as sustainability and social impact. Since 96 percent of recent Ross School of Business graduates received a job offer within three months of graduating, you can be sure that employers are looking for the kinds of skills business students develop at the University of Michigan.
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Enrollment: 28,395 undergraduate students
Tuition: $13,856 – $15,602 in-state or $43,476 – $46,528 out-of-state
5. New York University
If your interests in the business world extend beyond attaining a lucrative career – to solving economic and social challenges, for example – then you’ll find the kind of education you’re looking for at New York University. The Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University, which dates back to 1900, focuses on cultivating leaders.
At New York University, business students have plenty of options to make their education unique. Undergraduate students who pursue a business degree have 11 different concentrations to choose from:
- Actuarial science
- Business economics
- Economic theory
- Global business
- Information systems
- Management and organizations
A traditional business degree isn’t right for everyone. Students with a desire to travel can choose to earn the school’s Business and Political Economy degree. This program requires two years of study abroad experience in London and also allows for the opportunity to travel to sites like Shanghai and Washington, D.C.
No matter which business program a New York University student chooses, he or she can expect plenty of support and personal attention. With a student-to-faculty ration of just 10 to one, New York University is known for small class sizes. In fact, 65 percent of classes at the school have fewer than 20 students. You won’t find a lot of massive lecture hall courses here. Just nine percent of classes had more than 50 students.
Location: New York, NY
Enrollment: 24,985 undergraduate students
Ranked sixth in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best undergraduate business programs is a school that does things a little differently. Instead of rushing right from high school or the workplace into the business courses required for their major, undergraduate business students at the University of Virginia – founded by Thomas Jefferson – start their academic careers at the College of Arts & Sciences. Why? The philosophy of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce is that a strong business program begins with a broad liberal arts education on which to build.
After two-years of undergraduate liberal arts study, UVA students can apply for admission into the McIntire School of Commerce’s undergraduate business program. One attribute that sets this business program apart is its Integrated Core Experience (ICE), a series of courses in which students work in small groups to learn business theories and apply them to solve practical problems.
The University of Virginia’s undergraduate business program offers concentrations in accounting, finance, information technology, management and marketing. Students can also pursue up to two multidisciplinary tracks such as advertising and digital media, business analytics, entrepreneurship, global commerce, quantitative finance and real estate. Minors are available in entrepreneurship and leadership. For nontraditional students who want to earn their degrees part-time or online, the University of Virginia also offers a business concentration as part of its Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program.
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Enrollment: 15,405 undergraduate and professional students
Tuition: $15,892 in-state or $45,506 out-of-state
7. Carnegie Mellon University
Tied for seventh place on U.S. News & World Report’s best undergraduate business degree program rankings is Carnegie Mellon University, founded by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Aside from its rigorous academic curriculum, the private research university is also known for its lively student life outside the classroom, including the prevalence of Greek life memberships.
The Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University offers undergraduate degree programs in both business and economics. The school emphasizes small class sizes and an analytical approach to management and problem-solving. Business students earn a Bachelor of Science in either Business Administration or Computational Finance and choose from 10 different concentrations in subject areas like international business, entrepreneurship and graphic media management.
Students in the economics program develop independent thinking and work on cutting-edge research. Degree options in the undergraduate economics program include the Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Bachelor of Science in Economics, Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics and Bachelor of Science in Economics and Mathematical Science.
A business education extends beyond the classroom. That’s why Carnegie Mellon’s undergraduate business students learn the professional and social skills required in the business world through events like an annual etiquette dinner and a formal ball. Students can also participate in a yearly business plan competition and numerous “case” competitions” that put their analytical skills to work solving real-life business problems.
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Enrollment: 6,203 undergraduate students
8. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill
School two of three tied for seventh place on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings is the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. As the first public university in the United States with an in-state tuition rate of just $8,562, the school is proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a top-rated business education – not to mention an especially affordable choice for North Carolina residents.
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree at UNC are part of the Kenan-Flagler Business School. The undergraduate program at UNC focuses on developing core skills such as:
- Analytical skills
- Strategic thinking
Required classes include coursework in accounting, business analysis, management, marketing, finance, leadership, strategy, corporate communications and business laws and ethics. Students can also use their electives to customize their degrees and delve into an emphasis in one of 10 subjects, like consulting, investments, real estate and sales.
If traveling the world is part of your ideal college experience, you’re in luck. The Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC offers a number of undergraduate global programs. Whether you want to spend an entire semester soaking up the cultural experience in a foreign location like Denmark or Hong Kong, travel just for the summer, or take in all there is to see during an intensive one-week immersion, you’re sure to find an option that’s right for you.
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Enrollment: 18,350 undergraduate students
Tuition: $8,562 in-state or $33,644 out-of-state
9. University of Texas–Austin
The third school to tie for seventh place on U.S. News & World Report’s best undergraduate business schools list, the University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest colleges in the country. Among the school’s more than 170 fields of study is an undergraduate business degree program with several choices of specializations. Students who qualify for the Business Honors Program enjoy the best of both worlds – the resources of a big school and the small class sizes and personal attention of a close-knit community.
UT business students are part of the McCombs School of Business. They begin studying in a general business program, then declare a specialization such as:
- International business
- Management information systems
- Science and technology management
- Supply chain management
Ambitious accounting students who envision an advanced degree in their future can get a head start by enrolling in the school’s Integrated Masters in Professional Accounting degree program. They can graduate with both degrees in just five years and develop graduate-level expertise in one of four tracks:
- Auditing and financial reporting
- Management accounting and control
Location: Austin, TX
Enrollment: 39,523 undergraduate students
Tuition: $10,738 in-state or $38,126 out-of-state
10. Cornell University
Completing the top 10 schools on U.S. News & World Report’s best undergraduate business degrees list is Cornell University, a private New York university known for having upwards of 1,000 student organizations. Another unique aspect of Cornell is the autonomous nature of each of the university’s 14 colleges. Every college handles its own admissions and hires its own faculty independent of the other colleges or the university as a whole.
Cornell’s undergraduate business majors study at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The undergraduate business program culminates in a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Economics and Management (AEM). The curriculum includes required coursework in core subjects like management, economics, quantitative methods and applied economics. The degree requirements are still broad and flexible enough to allow students to pursue up to two academic concentrations, such as:
- Agribusiness management
- Applied economics
- Environmental, Energy, and Resource Economics
- Food Industry Management
- International Trade and Development
Undergraduate business students at this Ivy League school have plenty of options when it comes to what experiences they gain throughout their academic career. Students who enjoy traveling have the option of studying abroad at one of more than 70 foreign countries through international opportunities that range from two weeks to an entire year in duration. Business majors also have access to research experience through the Honors Research Program. Students who complete the honors research program earn a Bachelor of Science degree with “distinction in research” upon graduation. Hardworking students can also choose to double-major in AEM and another field of study in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, such as communication or information science.
Location: Ithaca, NY
Enrollment: 14,393 undergraduate students
Tuition: $32,976 in-state or $49,116 out-of-state