What is a business school?

A business school, or school of business, is a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate-level institution that teaches business administration or management.

They are also called school of management or school of business administration.

In a business school, undergraduate or graduate students study such topics as economics, administration, strategy, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, public relations, leadership, and accounting, among others.

Put simply, business schools teach people how to manage a business. Business managers have typically studied at such schools.

Undergraduate programs are called BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) programs. Graduate programs may include master’s degrees, MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs, Executive MBA programs and Doctoral studies.

According to The Princeton Review, business schools “take academic theories and apply them to real-world problems. They craft students into astute decision makers and professionals who can readily navigate uncertainty, risk and change.”

Business schools date back to the beginning of the 19th century. ESCP (Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris), which was established in 1819, is the world’s oldest business school. Today it has campuses in Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid and Turin. Two years ago, its Master in Management program was ranked second in the world by the Financial Times.

Business SchoolWriting in Fortune magazine, John A. Byrne qutoes MBA graduate Marianna Zanetti who said “There is an education bubble around these kind of degrees. I don’t think they have much impact on people’s careers.”


Several types of business schools

There are many kinds of business schools, some are stand-alone institutions, others are faculties or departments within a university, while others are institutions that teach only business topics.

In the United States and Canada, a business school generally refers to a university program that offers an undergraduate bachelor’s degree of graduate master’s qualification.

Some universities in Asia and Europe teach only business.

Many privately-owned business schools are not affiliated to a university.

Business schools open doorsWriting in Forbes, Sangeeth Varghese quotes Tom Mayo, a teacher at Harvard Business School, who said  that a top-tier business school degree is by no means a requirement for success, but it provides a pathway to access and opportunities that otherwise may not be open.

According to the FT Lexicon, a business school is:

“A college or part of a college where students can study economic and financial subjects and learn about managing a business.”

There are thousands of business schools

There are literally thousands of business schools across the world. Exeter Jones writes in M&I that in just the US there are over six hundred of them.

Jones adds “but not all of these are officially accredited in business by the AACSB – and even fewer are entered into the composite rankings for US News, The Economist, Financial Times, and Bloomberg Businessweek.”

Choosing the right business school is hard enough – and then you have to find the right program.

According to the Financial Times, the world’s top-10 business schools in 2015 were:

1. Harvard Business School (US).
2. London Business School (UK).
3. University of Pennsylvania Wharton (US).
4. Stanford Graduate School of Business (US).
5. Insead (France/Singapore).
6. Columbia Business School (US).
7. Iese Business School (Spain).
8. MIT: Sloan (US).
9. University of Chicago: Booth (US).
10. University of California at Berkeley: Haas (US).

Business schools may be ranked according to the career progress of graduates (long term), or student satisfaction and recruiter feedback (short term).