Michigan Ross Is Rated as a Leader Among Global Business Schools For Prioritizing Social Impact

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In a new rating conducted by students and for students, the Ross School of Business placed among the top business schools across the world for having a positive impact in society. 

The Positive Impact Rating represents the first time students have assessed business schools based on their perception of how schools are creating a positive impact in the world beyond business and the economy. 

To conduct the 2020 rating, PIR had international student organizations send surveys to their chapters at nearly 100 top-ranked global business schools asking for feedback across seven impact dimensions: governance, culture, programs, learning methods, student engagement, institution as a role model, and public engagement. The final rating was presented at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. 

Michigan Ross finished in the top 30 business schools that participated, earning a “Level 3” rating for schools that are demonstrating evidence of results. 

“The mission of Michigan Ross is to make a positive difference in the world and I think this rating illustrates that our school is taking the necessary steps to fulfill that mission,” said Jerry Davis, associate dean of Business+Impact at Michigan Ross. “We share the Positive Impact Rating’s belief that creating a positive societal impact should be an important purpose of business schools.” 

The commitment of Michigan Ross to social impact was evident in the student responses to the PIR survey, which was taken by members of the undergraduate and graduate Net Impact chapters at Ross. Many students commented that they appreciated how Ross integrates business and sustainability in courses, such as the focus of the Ross Integrative Semester Challenge this year on the issue of carbon neutrality at the University of Michigan, and the new +Impact Studio course, where students are working to translate faculty research and ideas into business solutions addressing important societal challenges. 

“Ross is really great at innovation and continues to offer new innovations related to impact,” said Carrie Boyle, MBA ‘20, co-president of the New Impact graduate chapter. “Even during my time here, there was the creation of the Business+Impact initiative, the +Impact Studio, and the Business & Society event series this year. This shows Ross listens to the student energy and is not afraid to experiment to meet the demand in the social impact space.”

Boyle said she was excited to participate in the first PIR because she thought the rating would be useful for students trying to decide which business schools place an emphasis on positive impact. 

“When I was applying to MBA programs it was not easy to find information about schools’ social impact, and I only found out about Ross through word of mouth,” she explained. “So, I think it’s helpful to make this information accessible through the new rating to give prospective students a better understanding of what business school is right for them if they have social impact career goals.” 

In addition, Boyle said she believes the PIR will benefit business schools by providing them with insight into potential ways to increase their level of social impact by hearing from students as well as allow them to learn from efforts at other top business schools.

At Ross, Boyle said she has enjoyed the variety of social impact opportunities available within the Full-Time MBA program - from the Nonprofit Board Fellows program to the number of impact-related Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) she had to choose from - but believes there is an opportunity to expand the course offerings for students who already have experience in the space. 

“From the time I started thinking about business school until now, social impact has exploded as a career interest for students and there are a lot more students coming to business school from impact and nonprofit backgrounds,” she said. “As more of those students attend, it would be great to see advanced courses on subjects like impact investing and international development.” 

Overall, Boyle said she was pleased that Michigan Ross was a part of the first iteration of the PIR and looked forward to seeing how the rating grows. 

“I think the rating will continue to spread and you’ll see more schools participate in future years,” she said. “The fact that Ross is among the first is important because we’re playing a role in shaping what the rating will become in future years.”