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Business school earns top-30 national ranking

Katie Perry | Monday, October 30, 2006

For the third straight time, Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business ranked among the top 30 in BusinessWeek magazine’s biennial survey of MBA programs nationwide.

The rankings feature – which spotlighted Notre Dame at No. 26 – is in the Oct. 23 edition on newsstands now. BusinessWeek placed the program at 24th in its 2002 survey and 29th in its 2004 survey.

Finance department chair Robert Huang said Notre Dame is consistently recognized by such rankings because the MBA program is “never satisfied.”

“We never stop improving ourselves,” he said. “Both the faculty and the staff are united in making our students their top priority.”

The magazine also named Notre Dame to its list of the top 10 schools for fastest return on investment, or the number of years it takes former students to recover the financial investment required for the graduate program.

Students can get a quicker return on investment by “choosing a mid-tier program as opposed to one in the top five,” according to research disclosed on the BusinessWeek Web site.

“The mid-tier schools like Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Rochester did very well in the [return on investment] analysis. You can recoup your investment in five years or less,” said associate editor Louis Lavelle on the magazine’s Web site. “The top-ranked schools … all did pretty poorly. You’re looking at 12 to 15 years before you break even.”

Karen Dowd, Senior Director of Career Development at Mendoza, said the MBA program’s focus on “leadership in thought, action and values-based decision making” prepares graduates not only in their first few years post-graduation, but also later on as their careers progress.

“Our MBA graduates are recruited into positions that aren’t simply training jobs, but substantial opportunities that allow them to use their skills and add value to companies and organizations immediately,” she said.

The central mission of the MBA career development team is to connect students with career opportunities. Dowd said the team provides tools that can be used in all stages of career decision making: “figuring out what’s important to you now, exploring options, developing market positioning strategies, evaluating alternatives, making decisions and re-evaluating your situation on an ongoing basis.

“We don’t offer this service to boost the rankings, but because it is the best way to help our students and alumni manage their careers in a way that is ultimately forward-moving and satisfying,” she said.

Overall, starting salaries for MBA graduates are “on the rise,” the magazine said.

“One of the biggest surprises was how well this year’s grads fared in the job market,” Lavelle said on the Web site. “We found that the average salary for our top 30 schools was up more than $8,000, or about 9.7 percent, to $95,000, which doesn’t include signing bonuses [and other financial rewards].”

According to the MBA program Web site, 93 percent of 2005 graduates seeking employment accepted offers within three months of graduation. Their average base salary was $80,000 with a median sign-on bonus of $10,000. Employers of the graduates included IBM, JP Morgan, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, Nike and PepsiCo.

“Recruiters tell us our innovative, integrative curriculum focused on problem-solving meshes well with their hiring needs,” Dowd said.

Huang said Notre Dame gives students a well-rounded education that encompasses both business and ethics.

“The most important thing is not just to teach them about the financial tools of the trade, but to teach how to do the right thing,” he said. “It is not just about preparing them for Wall Street, but for the world. After all, we are Notre Dame.”

The University of Chicago topped the list, followed by the MBA programs at the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University. The complete list can be viewed at the BusinessWeek Web site.

The BusinessWeek rankings were based on a three-part methodology: student surveys (45 percent of the ranking), corporate recruiter surveys (45 percent) and the analysis of “intellectual capital,” as based on journal articles written by faculty members (10 percent). For the 2006 edition, the magazine used surveys results from 9,000 graduates and more than 200 recruiters.

Notre Dame was also ranked 32nd among the world’s top 100 full-time MBA programs by the Economist Intelligence Unit in results released Oct. 12. Mendoza was 20th on the list of American schools and singled out as the top program with “Potential to Network.”