It’s hard to ignore the top ten business schools in America. Of all the applications that are submitted to b-schools each year, the top ten schools receive 75% of them. No wonder the process is so competitive! While it’s a great idea to apply to schools in the top ten if you feel you are competitive and a good fit, there are dozens of other great programs out there which you might want to consider as part of your broader application strategy. Here’s a list of pick-six programs you might want to investigate…
1) Owen at Vanderbilt University
Owen is about as close to Ivy League as you can get while still maintaining a high chance of acceptance. Like schools in the Ivy League, Owen is private and is very well funded by a large endowment. These resources allow for state of the art facilities and star faculty hiring—they poached Tuck’s Associate Dean, for example, who has helped bring in Dartmouth’s student-driven culture. GMAT scores at Owen are on the rise and their graduate placement percentage (the number of students with jobs at graduation) is hard to beat. Nashville is also an up-and-coming city, and is considered the mecca of the healthcare profession in the US, so if you have healthcare ambitions and can’t land a spot at Duke or Tuck, give Owen a look.
2) Mendoza at Notre Dame
The Mendoza School of Business leverages a fantastic brand name and benefits from an undergraduate business program which always holds ranking in the top five programs in the country. Having a stellar undergrad program means the school attracts only the best faculty, a faculty which is shared across all programs. Mendoza has a very customer-service oriented culture, where the students are respected and listened to, which means the students can have a real impact on the school, both while they are there and long after they graduate. Thanks again to its tradition of excellence, Mendoza also attracts big name endorsements and support, including top corporations and individuals. One of the highest profile backers is Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, whose namesake Management Institute at Mendoza receives national attention and plenty of funding.
3) Jones at Rice University
Houston is the fourth largest city in the US and is also home to 29 Fortune 500 companies. How would you like to do an internship without having to relocate to another city? Jones often places students in internships even before the first semester holiday break arrives. If the energy or oil and gas business is of interest, you would actually be better off at Jones than at many of the schools which rank in the top ten. The school is very highly ranked by both its current students and its alumni, which is a double-double stat that very few schools can claim. Like Owen, Jones is a private school and is so well funded, that most of its students receive at least some amount of fellowship support.
4) Darden at University of Virginia
Worried about your chances to get into HBS? You should check out Darden, which was designed to mimic Harvard, where the case method is the favored academic approach. Students at Darden work on more than 500 cases before they graduate. Like Mendoza, Darden benefits from the reputation of its undergraduate program, McIntire, which consistently ranks in the top five in the nation. While the two programs are completely separate, the same high quality culture permeates both. If a career in consulting is of interest, you will be pleased to know that Darden recently attracted a former McKinsey MD to be their dean.
5) Kelley at Indiana
The Kelley School of Business at Indiana is a top 25 program with a tremendous ROI, with an in-state tuition of only $25K per year and an average starting salary which approaches $110K. The school is surprisingly diverse considering its Mid-Western location (making it a bit more off the grid for international applicants), and it boasts an impressive 30% female class. If entrepreneurship is in your plans, you may be surprised to know that Kelley ranks #8 in this area. Receiving far fewer applications that its top ten counterparts, Kelley may be a good choice for competitive applicants who are looking for a good backup school. You can also get an MBA online at Kelley, which is not an option at most top 25 schools.
6) Scheller at Georgia Tech
Technology and Management are becoming virtually inseparable in today’s digital marketplace, and Scheller ranks up there with Sloan (MIT) in this category. The Scheller College of Business benefits from the international brand reputation of Georgia Tech, which goes back more than 100 years. Being a smaller program (80 students per year), Scheller students benefit from a low student-to-faculty ratio and direct access to the professors who hail from the top universities and companies around the world. Its world-class TiGER entrepreneurship program pairs MBA students with Emory University Law students and a PhD from Georgia Tech who has research which warrants commercialization. The students take classes together, build a business plan, and in some cases, go on to incorporate as a startup company. Like Kelley, Scheller ranks highly in return on investment and is located in the heart of midtown Atlanta, an ever-expanding hotbed of business and industry.