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May 11, 2006

BusinessWeek ranks CBA No. 50

BusinessWeek Magazine’s first ranking of undergraduate business programs has rated Pitt’s College of Business Administration No. 50 in its ranking of 61 schools.

The rankings included 31 public and 30 private university programs. Compared with other public universities, Pitt’s business program came in at No. 21.

The newly released rankings are based on a survey of business school students and a poll of 2,000 corporate recruiters combined with an examination of starting salaries for graduates and a count of how many graduates each school sent on to top MBA programs. The BusinessWeek report also factored in an “academic quality” score, compiled using student-faculty ratios, SAT scores, average class size, percentage of business majors with internships and the weekly time students spend on homework.

In addition, the BusinessWeek report handed out letter grades based on students’ assessments of teaching quality, facilities and services and job placement. The letter grade scale gave A+ ratings to the top 20 percent in each of the three categories, As to the next 25 percent, Bs to the next 35 percent and Cs to the bottom 20 percent of the 61 schools.

The complete report can be viewed on line at

Topping the list was University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school with a combined index score of 100, an academic quality rating of 1 and A+ ratings in teaching quality and job placement, with an A in facilities and services.

Pitt tied with Arizona State with a combined index score of 46. “Tough grading standards attract more qualified applicants than a few years ago, but career services could use improvement,” the accompanying commentary states.

Of the 61 ranked schools, Pitt’s academic quality rating was 41. Students gave the Pitt program a B in teaching quality and Cs in the facilities and services and job placement categories.

According to the survey, Pitt’s business school has an enrollment of 1,652; a 1:31 teacher-student ratio and average SAT scores of 1231. Median starting salary for graduates is listed as $40,000.

“We fared okay, not as good as we could be,” said interim dean Lawrence Feick. “We’re good and getting better over time,” he said, noting that the school is in the midst of its first curriculum restructuring since its inception in 1995.

Among the changes are depth requirements designed to prepare graduates to be global citizens. For instance, a student studying Spanish might also be required to pair it with Latin American politics and history courses. “Now it forces you to concentrate on some Arts and Sciences courses,” Feick explained. In addition, the school is increasing the number of required courses for some majors: For instance, requirements for the marketing major are up 20 percent. And it’s fine-tuning some tracks within programs, such as marketing research or retailing within the marketing major.

“My hope would be that in terms of substantive change and in terms of heightened awareness (outside the University) it would help us in the rankings,” he said.

Other Pennsylvania schools that made the list are: Carnegie Mellon University (16), Lehigh (18), Villanova (19), Penn State (32) and Drexel (58).

BusinessWeek is not the only publication to rate Pitt’s program. U.S. News & World Report ranked the undergraduate business school No. 40 in its 2006 America’s Best Colleges issue. That ranking surveyed deans and senior faculty at accredited business schools for a peer review of program quality. Pitt scored 3.3 on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished). Others sharing that ranking were Boston, Syracuse, Tulane, Virginia Tech, the University of South Carolina-Columbia and University of Arkansas.

“I think it’s an improvement over what U.S. News is doing,” Feick said of the BusinessWeek ranking. “It uses a broad range criteria.”

He noted the newness of Pitt’s program works against it in rankings: “It’s a matter of getting the word out.”

Feick said it would be unwise to manage a program solely with rankings in mind, but noted rankings do affect parents’ and students’ school choices, so it’s important to publicize a school’s strengths. “I think the things that we’re doing will improve the ranking over time,” he said.

—Kimberly Barlow

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