In the United States, private universities hold most of the top spots in rankings of business schools. However, several state schools have programs that can compete with even the best of the private universities. Although only one public school has an overall rating in the top ten on the U.S. News and World Report rankings, several of the public schools have specialty programs that rank in the top five. A potential business student who applies some careful research can almost always find a program that will provide an education in a state university that can compete with any private school in the nation.
As the lone public top-ten school, the University of California at Berkley provides an outstanding education in a public school atmosphere. U.C. Berkley provides an education that can allow students to compete with any business schools in the United States, and costs less than any other top-ten business program. At approximately $30,000 for in-state students, the tuition is over $10,000 less per year than any other top-ten program. Even the out-of-state tuition (approximately $40,000) remains several thousand dollars less than the top-ten private institutions.
Several state business schools rank just outside of the top-ten. Business schools at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, University of California—Los Angeles, the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill all rank in the top twenty nationally. Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Indiana at Bloomington rank just outside of the top twenty.
For in-state students, these schools can provide excellent educational opportunities at costs much lower than the private institutions. However, out-of-state students should compare costs closer, as several out-of-state tuition rates approach those of the private schools. Additionally, prospective business students should try to determine if they could get in-state status after a year, or possibly work for a year in the state before attending so they can get a cheaper tuition.
The major advantage of these public schools is their cheaper tuition rates. While all have some cost savings over private institutions (at least for in-state students), a few provide even greater value to their students. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Indiana at Bloomington both have tuitions less than $20,000 per year for in-state students. The Georgia Institute for Technology has an incredibly good value for in-state students, with a tuition of only 7,800 per year. Out-of-state students will generally still see some cost savings, but their tuition rates will be closer to those of the private schools.
Prospective business school students should also consider that state schools that rank highly overall may rank even higher within certain specialties. For example, many rankings have the University of Texas at Austin as the top accounting in the United States.
Even public universities that do not generally make the top twenty lists overall may rank very highly in certain specialties. For example, Michigan State University ranks second in supply chain/logistics, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. For international business, the University of South Carolina (Columbia) has consistently ranked either as the first or second ranked program in the nation.
Finding an excellent business program in a public school involves some research, but a prospective business student can easily find a program to fit his or her needs. Considering overall quality and the quality of specific programs, applicants may find several hidden gems within the public university systems. However, rankings only account for part of the equation when deciding on a business school. Costs after financial aid, location, class size, and any number of variables should receive serious consideration by applicants before he or she decides which school will allow them to successfully achieve their academic and career goals.