Real rankings: alternative analyses reveal many of Foster’s specific strengths

Students talking to each other outside of PACCAR Hall The go-to MBA news site Poets & Quants recently listed the UW Foster School of Business 22nd best in the nation in an aggregation of the school’s top 25 standings in the four most influential business school rankings.

But the ordered echelons—issued by U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Financial Times and the Economist—can be pretty generalized instruments with which to assess the comparable quality of an educational institution.

Recently, however, a few rankings organizations have begun to sharpen the focus, shift the perspective, apply some context. And these exercises have revealed some meaningful strengths of the Foster School.

Take Poets & Quants itself, which declared this year that Foster would rocket to 12th in the country—and 3rd among public universities—if b-schools were ranked on MBA student performance. “Metrics that matter,” as Columbia University Business School dean Glenn Hubbard put it in an essay in Fortune.

And when it re-weighted the U.S. News rankings to consider employment in particular high-demand fields, Poets & Quants tabbed Foster 2nd in the nation for achieving a career in consumer products or technology. Of Foster’s 2014 MBA grads, 18 percent secured consumer products jobs and more than 40 percent landed in the tech sector. Another 20 percent took positions in consulting.

Also focusing on the rising desirability of careers in the technology sector, Bloomberg Businessweek found that Foster was 6th best in the nation at placing graduates in tech (by percentage of class).

Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking also revealed that Foster was 5th in the nation for overall job placement—ahead of Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT and UC-Berkeley—and 12th in the US for employer satisfaction.

Even the venerable U.S. News has fine-tuned its data to discover that the Foster MBA Program provides the “Best Bang for the Buck.” The numbers tell the tale: more than 95 percent of Foster MBAs are employed within three months of graduation (3rd best among the top 25 schools), earning an average starting compensation of $125,367 in salary + bonus, and carrying a low average debt load of less than $30,000. That’s an ROI that’s through the roof.

Business Insider’s recent ranking of the best business schools in the world counted Foster among an elite group of 22 MBA programs worldwide whose graduates earn an average base salary of more than $110,000 directly after graduation.

For ROI on the undergraduate side, the rating site NerdWallet ranked Foster 14th among its “100 Best U.S. Colleges for Business Majors” thanks to an average annual salary of nearly $100K ten years out from graduation coupled with low levels of student debt due to low tuition rates.

Behind the Foster Undergraduate Program’s 22nd national ranking in U.S. News are specialty area rankings in accounting (11th), international business (17th) entrepreneurship (23rd) and management (25th).

And behind the Foster MBA Program’s 23rd national ranking in U.S. News are specialty area rankings in marketing (21st), entrepreneurship (22nd), international business (23rd) and accounting (23rd).

In its “Best Schools for Entrepreneurship” ranking, the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine pegged Foster at 16th in the nation for MBAs and 19th for undergrads, noting that the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship has spurred Foster alumni to start 134 companies still in business and raise more than $208 million, collectively, in funding.

Ranking Perspective

The Foster MBA Program earned a 23rd overall ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “2016 Best Grad Schools”—out of 464 AACSB accredited business schools considered. That puts Foster in the top 5 percent of accredited b-schools in the nation.