Top business schools - does it matter where you attend?

The university a new accounting graduate attended can catch an employer's attention, but it may not guarantee a job offer, according to a new survey. Chief financial officers polled recently were split regarding how much weight the prestige of a candidate's alma mater should be given in hiring decisions. Fifty-one percent of respondents felt the stature of an institution was very important or somewhat important, whereas 49 percent said it was not important at all.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, "When evaluating an entry-level accounting or finance job candidate, how important is the prestige of the university the person attended?" Their responses:

Very important 13%
Somewhat important 38%
Not at all important 49%

"Because many entry-level candidates have little professional experience, hiring managers often consider non-work-related factors, such as the quality of the applicant's formal education," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies. "But learning extends beyond the classroom - valuable skills and knowledge also are gained through extracurricular activities, internships and jobs held during college."

"Employers should avoid letting a single factor, such as where an applicant went to school or which internships he or she completed, carry disproportionate weight in the evaluation process," said Messmer. "A strong work ethic and the ability to adapt quickly to new environments for example, are equally desirable."

At the graduate level, U.S. News and World Report has prepared its 2008 Best U.S. Graduate Schools list. Here are the top 50 business schools:

1. Harvard University (MA)
2. Stanford University (CA)
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
5. Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
6. University of Chicago
7. Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH)
8. University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
9. Columbia University (NY)
10. New York University (Stern)
11. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
12. Duke University (Fuqua) (NC)
12. University of Virginia (Darden)
14. Cornell University (Johnson) (NY)
14. Yale University (CT)
16. University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
17. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) (PA)
18. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
18. University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)
20. Emory University (Goizueta) (GA)
21. University of Southern California (Marshall)
22. Ohio State University (Fisher)
22. Purdue University–West Lafayette (Krannert) (IN)
24. Indiana University–Bloomington (Kelley)
25. Georgetown University (McDonough) (DC)
25. Georgia Institute of Technology
25. University of Maryland–College Park (Smith)
25. University of Minnesota–Twin Cities (Carlson)
29. Michigan State University (Broad)
29. Texas A&M University–College Station (Mays)
29. University of Washington
29. University of Wisconsin–Madison
29. Washington University in St. Louis (Olin)
34. Pennsylvania State University–University Park (Smeal)
34. Vanderbilt University (Owen) (TN)
36. University of Rochester (Simon) (NY)
37. University of Florida (Warrington)
37. University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
39. Boston College (Carroll)
39. University of Notre Dame (Mendoza) (IN) ***
41. Arizona State University–Main Campus (Carey)
41. Babson College (Olin) (MA)
41. Boston University
41. Brigham Young University (Marriott) (UT)
45. Tulane University (Freeman) (LA)
46. University of California–Davis
46. University of Georgia (Terry)
48. Rice University (Jones) (TX)
49. Wake Forest University (Babcock) (NC)
50. University of Iowa (Tippie)

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