Rankings of Business Schools: An Art...Not a Science!
We all know that Harvard, Stanford and Wharton are all considered top business schools. But, sometimes, they're not at the top for particular fields, or according to certain publications. One critical step in business school selection is researching different rankings and taking into account your specific interests. To help you get started, we've compiled an overview of the major rankings of business schools and their methodologies, strengths and weaknesses. The most important rankings are produced by U.S. News and The Financial Times. A word of caution: don't focus exclusively on rankings. We're not saying they're unimportant, only that they're just one way to go about school selection. So here's what you need to know about the (imperfect) world of rankings...
U.S. News & World Report
The granddaddy of MBA rankings is U.S. News & World Report, a private publisher. These folks have compiled rankings since 1983 and exert significant influence each year on applicants' business school selection. While their ranking methodology has it shortcomings, it establishes a useful basis for comparing the relative attractiveness of hundreds of academic programs.
Best Business Schools is U.S. News' ranking of MBA programs. Their most popular ranking is for full time MBA programs and is based on the following criteria, in descending order of weight:
- Peer Assessment Score (25%): Business school deans and directors of MBA programs were asked to rate MBA programs on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Mean GMAT Score (16%)
- Recruiter Assesment Score (15%): Corporate recruiters and company contacts were asked to rate MBA programs on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Mean Starting Salary and Bonus (14%)
- Employment Rate 3 Months After Graduation (14%)
- Mean Undergraduate GPA (8%)
- Employment Rate at Graduation (7%)
- MBA Program Acceptance Rate (1%)
In an effort to provide more targeted rankings, U.S. News also publishes specialty rankings in fields such as accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, and marketing, as well as part time MBA rankings. These rankings are based solely on ratings by deans and directors of MBA programs. Since they do not analyze as many variables, they are less robust, but still useful guides.
The Financial Times
The Financial Times, a daily business newspaper in London, publishes several rankings of business schools each year. Their Global MBA and Executive MBA rankings list the top full time and executive MBA programs in the world. Many business schools in the U.S. reference these international rankings in their marketing and promotional material.
The Global MBA ranking is based on an analysis of three areas: alumni salaries and career development; the diversity and international reach of the school; and research capabilities. Within these areas, 20 criteria are used to determine the rankings. Eight of the criteria are based on the following inputs from alumni questionnaires: "weighted salary", "placement success rank", "alumni recommend rank", and "international mobility rank". The remaining criteria are based on inputs from a questionnaire completed by each business school. These include figures for "employed at three months", "women faculty", "international board", "international experience rank", and "FT doctoral rank".
The Executive MBA ranking is based on survey results from alumni and schools. 16 criteria are used to determine the rankings. Alumni provide input on five of the criteria such as "salary today" and "aims achieved". Ten criteria are calculated based on information provided by the schools, such as "women faculty". The final criteria, "FT research rank", is determined from the number of articles published by faculty.
The Wall Street Journal
The WSJ produces an Executive MBA ranking based on a combination of three scores: an alumni score, a corporate score and a management-skills score. These scores are based on data from surveys sent to students and alumni. The student survey, directed to members of the most recent classes, measures satisfaction on everything from the curriculum to faculty access to career services. The alumni survey measures what students learned and how useful their classes and degrees have been in their careers.
Business Week produces several MBA rankings each year, including full time, part time, and executive MBA programs. Their methodology is based on surveys of alumni (45% weight), corporate recruiters (45%), and an intellectual capital rating based on faculty publications (10%). Like the WSJ rankings of business schools, their rankings are not as sophisticated as those of U.S. News or The Financial Times.