Nearly all students consult MBA rankings in their research process, but it’s virtually impossible to agree on which rankings system best quantifies the various top MBA programs. But according to this year’s AIGAC survey, the top three by a decent margin are the US News and World Report, Businessweek, and the Financial Times.
We’ve broken them down to help you decide which is the right list for you.
US News and World Report
The US News and World Report is no doubt the biggest name in rankings in the US, and ranks everything from cars to hospitals. Many American MBA students will remember the brand for their annual college rankings. Of course, it also ranks over 100 of the top MBA programs within the US.
- Biggest Consideration: External quality assessments by other deans and directors and corporate recruiters make up 40% of the overall score, more than any of the other rankings systems.
- Other Considerations: Employment rates post-graduation make up about 21% of the score, while only 14% of the score comes from graduate salary data. The remaining percentage comes from student selectivity, including GPA, GMAT scores, and acceptance rates.
- Notable Feature: This is the only survey among the big names to include GMAT scores and GPA in its rankings. It also shows ties between schools, unlike other ranking systems.
- Cons: A lot of data is supplied by schools, leading to the possiblity that schools are misrepresenting or gaming certain numbers.
- Best for: School administrators generally trust the rankings as a barometer of performance. It’s also useful for its ranking of specialized MBA subjects like finance and accounting.
The Financial Times
In 2013, The FT ranked 155 fulltime MBA programs in 28 countries. Unsuprisingly, nearly 70% of international applicants report consulting it while researching programs.
- Biggest Consideration: Salary is weighted at 40%, and another 15% of the score comes from general career progression.
- Other Considerations: 20 criteria that focus on salary, school data, and academic research.
- Notable Feature: The FT places more emphasis on diversity of gender and nationality than most other rankings, and includes things like ratio of male:female students.
- Cons: In order to compare salaries between countries, the FT converts all salaries according to Purchasing Power Parity, which can be to the advantage of schools in countries like India and China.
- Best for: International students looking for a global ranking, students looking for executive MBA and online MBA programs globally.
The Bloomberg Businessweek MBA fulltime ranking covers 30 MBA US programs, and has a separate ranking of international programs. In over 20 years, only 3 schools have ever held the top spots: Kellogg, Chicago, and Wharton. Meticulous interview process.
- Biggest Consideration: About 30% of the score comes from student satisfaction surveys, where they ask students about teaching quality, career placement services, etc.
- Other Considerations: Recruiter surveys make up 20% of the score, while another 30% comes from the academic quality of the school, which includes things like hours of schoolwork and faculty:student ratio.
- Notable Feature: Their interview process is far more lengthy and thorough than those of most other b-school rankings.
- Cons: BW’s methodology has come under fire for not being transparent enough, and very small changes have the potential to affect a school’s standing.
- Best for: Students who want a survey where more emphasis is put on student and employer satisfaction than hard numbers.
Below are the top 25 fulltime MBA programs, as decided by US News and World Report, Businessweek, and the Financial Times.
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