U.S. News and World Report has ranked UW-Madison School of Business as the most popular business school in the country, placing it ahead of Harvard’s business school, which has held the title of “most popular” for the last two years.
U.S. News and World Report, which tracks rankings in higher education and health care among other disciplines, named UW-Madison No. 1 in its “short list” published Tuesday.
The list, first compiled in 2011, orders business schools in terms of conversion rate, or the number of students who enroll in a school compared to the total number accepted. According to figures cited by U.S. News and World Report, the Wisconsin School of Business enrolled 90.4 percent of accepted students last fall while Harvard enrolled 89.3 percent.
While the cost of public institutions versus private institution adds to the appeal of enrolling in a school like UW-Madison, Francois Ortalo-Magne, dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, believes a school’s projected return on investment impacts its conversion rate much more than tuition dollars.
Since accepted students are already aware of a school’s tuition costs, their decision to enroll hinges more on the value of its academic programs, Ortalo-Magne said.
“I think the conversion rate is much more about having chosen where to apply, (and) then it’s a question of, ‘Are they convinced that it is a great return on investment?’” he said.
The Wisconsin School of Business’ strategic approach to education has also boosted its conversion rate, Ortalo-Magne said. While Harvard is renowned for general business, UW-Madison structures its business school around small learning communities focusing on 10 specializations like brand management, marketing research, supply chain and real estate.
“We are not trying to be as big and broad as (Harvard is),” Ortalo-Magne said. “We are trying to be excellent in a few niches.”
While 919 students enrolled in Harvard’s business school last fall, 94 enrolled in the Wisconsin School of Business. UW-Madison aims to grow that number to 120, according to Ortalo-Magne.
The school relies on staff, alumni and current students to recruit accepted students. In recent years, current business students have met with prospective students on campus and created YouTube videos as a separate outreach tool.
“(The ranking) says something about (the staff’s) ability to share their passion for the program and our ability to get our students as well involved in sharing this passion,” Ortalo-Magne said.
Other business schools that ranked in the 2013 short list’s top 10 include (in order) Stanford University, Oregon State University, Brigham Young University, University of Kentucky, University of Houston, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Ohio State University, and Pepperdine University.
For more information about U.S. News and World Report’s higher education rankings, visit www.usnews.com.