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The best bargain for a top undergraduate finance degree

If you want to work on Wall Street, go to the University of Pennsylvania – whether for your graduate or post-graduate degree, it appears to offer the shortest avenue to a top banking job.

In March, U.S. News & World Report ranked its business school, Wharton, as the top program for financial specialties, finishing above the likes of Stanford and Harvard. For front office jobs in investment banking in particular, we just recently ranked Wharton as the second best program, behind only Columbia.

And now, the University of Pennsylvania just ranked first in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Undergraduate Business Programs” list.

Top Ranked Undergraduate Business Programs

1. University of Pennsylvania

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. University of California — Berkley

4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

5. New York University

6. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

7. University of Virginia

8. Carnegie Mellon University

9. Indiana University, Bloomington

10. University of Texas, Austin

The top 10 contains many names that would come to mind for most people – MIT and NYU, to name a couple – but Penn is the only Ivy League school to make the list. That’s because it is the only one with a dedicated business school for undergraduates, a spokesperson at U.S. News & World Report tells us, making the others ineligible for this particular study. However, every Ivy other than Dartmouth ranked in the top 10 of “Best National University” ranking, which looks at the institutions more holistically.

Within the business rankings, one school stands out. The University of California, Berkeley finished tied for second with MIT. But perhaps more noteworthy, annual tuition there adds up to just north of $25k, nearly half that at Penn ($47k) and MIT ($45k).

No other school in the top 10 offers such a bargain. The next closest were the University of North Carolina and Indiana University, where tuition costs around $33k. However, if you live in-state, there is no better bargain that UNC, where in-state tuition costs just over $8k, compared to nearly $14k at the University of California, Berkeley.

U.S. News & World Report let us behind their firewall and gave us a look at some other, more granular lists, based on particular niches within business. As you can see, the finance ranking looks rather similar to the overall business ranking, with Penn leading the way and University of California, Berkeley finishing in the top five. The other financial services-related lists are a bit different.


1. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

2. New York University (Stern)

3. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)

4. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (Sloan)

5. University of California–Berkeley (Haas)

5. University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)



1. University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)

2. U. of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign

3. Brigham Young Univ.–Provo (Marriott) (UT)

4. University of Notre Dame (IN)

5. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

5. Univ. of Southern California (Marshall)


Insurance/Risk Management

1. University of Georgia (Terry)

2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

3. Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison

4. Temple University (Fox) (PA)

5. Georgia State University (Robinson)


Quantitative Analysis/Methods

1. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (Sloan)

2. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) (PA)

3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

4. Purdue Univ.–West Lafayette (Krannert) (IN)

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

5. University of California–Berkeley (Haas)


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AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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