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Robert Trigaux

Florida business schools dominate BusinessWeek rankings for best bang for buck

25

March

Springbreaktbt Wake up and good morning. This spring break photo (by tbt) is probably not the first choice of "image" Florida wants to portray to the business world. But it is a good example of what the state still must contend with in its efforts to be taken more seriously:

When many people think of Florida, they think of Mickey Mouse or partying at South Beach, not exactly the place to go if you want to grow up and make something of yourself.

This line appears, in all things, a Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine story about where to get the biggest bang for your buck in a business school. The answer? Florida. By far. The magazine regularly ranks undergraduate and MBA business schools nationwide. While Florida schools don't rank high among the high-end Harvards and Whartons, this particular listing is different. It ranks schools on "ROI" or return on investment, which means "what is the undergraduate business student paying for business school and how much will that student be offered in salary" when he/she graduates?

Stretcheddollaristock When it comes to stretching a buck, Florida schools kick butt. The the top four undergraduate business programs in the ROI ranking of public schools are all in the Sunshine State: University of Central Florida in Orlando; University of Florida in Gainesville; Florida International in Miami; and Florida State in Tallahassee. (There's no listing for the University of South Florida business schools in Tampa or St. Petersburg, so I'm not sure if this was an omission, an oversight, a failure to make the ROI cut, or perhaps USF simply did not participate.)

Ucf_entrance_ss Here's what the rankings show. Because Florida universities charge low tuition, students can graduate with much less debt, which means they are not in a deep hole of student loans and can start saving earlier upon graduation. Annual tuition and fees at the Florida schools that topped the ROI ranking are well under $5,000. And the state's Bright Futures scholarships help lower tuition costs even more.

But going to business school is not just about doing it on the cheap. Says Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

"While many public programs are more affordable, some tend to have less-than-stellar career placement stats when compared with private programs. At the University of Central Florida, which ranked No. 1 for ROI in 2010, only 27% of the graduates who shared employment information had received their first job offer by graduation. And at Florida International, where many graduates are the first in their families to attend college, the placement rate is even lower: 17%. The top private programs, on the other hand, had graduates faring much better despite the recession, with placement rates well above 80%."

To determine which business programs give students the biggest return on their tuition dollar, the magazine compared annual tuition costs at each of the programs that participated in the undergraduate b-school ranking with median starting salaries for graduates. For example, with No. 1 UCF in Orlando, annual tuition and fees are $3,846 and the starting annual salary upon graduation is $45,000, which translates to $11.70 -- how many dollars you get in starting salary versus a year of tuition. That's the "return on investment" formula. Here's the complete ROI ranking for public (lower cost) university business schools. And here's one for the far more expensive (and generally more prestigious) private university business schools.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 12:27pm]

    

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