Ranking the MBA Rankings

John Byrne, granddaddy of rankings, creator of the 1988 Businessweek ranking, which caused (to quote Ghostbusters) “Fire and Brimestone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!…dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria.”   Schools reacted to that ranking with significant change and improvement to curriculum, faculty training, student selection and corporate education.  Now Mr. Byrne has created a new ranking, www.poetsandquants.com, that not only takes into account other rankings, but he also ranks the rankings (and of course, Businessweek is on top).  

I have tremendous respect for John Byrne, but the choice is rarely between two schools. While he turned the tables on business school education and may do it again, I would like to see a ranking that takes into account consumer behavior.  In other words, if offered admission to multiple schools, what school does the consumer choose and why?  This information is not revealed in aggregated data currently reported by schools for rankings like yield, selectivity and number of total applications.  

I would like to see a ranking that answers the questions of how and why a candidate that is offered admission to 5 schools selects his/her school of choice. No ranking captures this data. They capture highest GMATs, satisfaction, best reputation, but they don’t capture the nuances of consumer behavior.  Over 20 years, I have been analyzing data of why my students chose my school and why some students I admitted chose another school. This data is not shared with the public, but all schools collect this data and across all schools the information would make for a great ranking.  

How about it, John?

For more information on using the rankings, please see The Rankings, an Accepted.com special report.

 By Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, former Admissions Dean/Director at 3 top business schools. Natalie would be happy to help you choose your top 5 schools.


Sustainable MBAs

Thinking about a career in sustainable enterprise?  Each year the Aspen Institute ranks MBA programs in their Beyond Grey Pinstripes edition on the schools’ ability to provide curriculum, research and careers while looking at the triple bottom line.  This list continues to grow, but according to the 2010 rankings, candidates looking at MBA programs that embrace social enterprise and green initiatives should consider the following schools:

Top Ten Lists

Rank- United States Schools
1 U. of Michigan (Ross)
2 Yale School of Management
3 Stanford Graduate School of Business
4 Notre Dame (Mendoza)
5 UC Berkeley (Haas)
6 NYU (Stern)
7 Columbia Business School
8 U. of Virginia (Darden)
9 Cornell (Johnson)
10 GWU School of Business
Rank- International Schools
1 York (Schulich)
2 RSM Erasmus
3 IE Business School
4 Nottingham University Business School
5 Griffith Business School
7 McGill (Desautels)
8 ESADE Business School
9 Concordia (John Molson)
10 U. of Stellenbosch Business School
Rank- Courseworkthe schools that best- and most frequently- integrate social, environmental and ethical issues into the classroom experience
1 Yale School of Management
2 Stanford Graduate School of Business
3 U. of Michigan (Ross)
4 York (Schulich)
5 Notre Dame (Mendoza)
6 IE Business School
7 NYU (Stern)
8 UC Berkeley (Haas)
9 Wisconsin School of Business
10 U. of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
Rank- Research- faculty at these schools have published the most scholarly articles that address social, environmental, or ethical issues in peer-reviewed, business journals in calendar years 2007-2008
1 York (Schulich)
2 U. of Michigan (Ross)
3 Notre Dame (Mendoza)
4 UC Berkeley (Haas)
5 U. of Virginia (Darden)
6 Nottingham University Business School
7 RSM Erasmus
7 U. of Navarra (IESE)
9 Concordia (John Molson)
10 U. of Western Ontario (Ivey)

Need assistance sorting through the schools?  My colleagues and I will help you narrow your list and create an essay that addresses your passion for sustainability.  Complete a service request and a qualified consultant will help contact you regarding your application needs.

 By Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, former Admissions Dean/Director at 3 top business schools


Three Top Tips for Attending MBA Fairs

The MBA Tour will reach the four corners of the globe this fall, having four separate tours in Asia, India, Europe, and the United States, followed by tours to Latin America (October) and Canada (November). The tour events provide you with great opportunities to meet with school representatives and learn more about the schools.  However, fairs also can devolve into mind-numbing circuits of big, crowded halls where you collect shiny brochures that will gather dust and nothing more.

We asked MBA expert, Peter von Loesecke, CEO and Managing Director of The MBA Tour LLC a few questions about the MBA scene and about making the most of your attendance at The MBA Tour events.

Here is our short interview. I think you will find Peter’s responses thought-provoking.

A: What key 3 trends do you see affecting MBA education today?

PVL: The three key trends I see facing MBA education today are:

    1.  A soft market for full time MBA education: Challenged by the current economic realities in the developed world, many students in North America (The US in particular) and Europe are having a hard time justifying the tuition and opportunity costs of a full time MBA.

    2. Part-time and weekend programs are becoming popular: As a result of 1, some schools recognize that students want to remain employed so they are offering weekend programs. University of Michigan and University of Chicago both offer weekend programs that broaden their appeal beyond the local part-time market.

    3. In some countries rankings are becoming absurdly influential: Parents and students in the developing world place too much credence in rankings. By way of example, I was asked by an agent if I used school rankings to select schools for my son who is applying to undergraduate schools. I had to explain to him that school choice for parents who are involved in their kid’s application cycle use rankings to validate a particular school’s reputation. The remaining factors for selecting a school involve researching what the school offers for my son in terms of major, lifestyle, learning environment, and extra- curricular activities, which the rankings do not consider in much detail other than a check list. The same is true for MBA programs although the scope of education is much narrower.

LA: What are your 3 top tips for applicants participating in The MBA Tour events?

PVL: 1. Come prepared; research the schools in the event ahead of time. We post them. And bring your resume.

    2. Dress appropriately; don’t look like you just came from the beach.

    3. Take the MBA Spotlight survey to do a little self discovery on what is important to you. If you match to a school, great, if you do not match, no big deal.

LA:  How can applicants appropriately follow up after attending The MBA Fair?

PVL: After the event I recommend students follow up with a personal message to school representatives assuming you have their email.  Never call a representative you met at an MBA Tour event unless invited to do so.

To register or for more information about scheduled fairs, check out The MBA Tour website.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

The Relative Unimportance of High School Rankings

There are people, institutions, school districts and media organizations that care a tremendous amount about the Newsweek ranking of America’s Best High Schools, which was released last week.  The rankings are based upon the number of Advanced Placement exams (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or Cambridge exams given in the school divided by the number of students in the senior class — a statistic that should measure academic challenge available and undertaken in a specific school.  The  rankings included 1600 high schools, or about 6%.  Our local news organizations jumped on the idea that our comprehensive high schools made the list.  Amusingly enough, a high school in Texas made both the America’s Best list and a list of failing schools, which demonstrates the manipulability of statistics.

Does it matter if your school made the list?  When it comes to applying to college, not really.  Selective colleges take great care to evaluate each student within the context of the high school that he or she attends.  As your transcript is evaluated, the admissions officer is looking at your grades and class rank (if provided), and the rigor of the curriculum that you have chosen to take.  If AP or IB courses are available, then they expect you to have challenged yourself in several facets of the curriculum.  At the other extreme, if you attend a high school that offers little in the way of advanced courses, it won’t be held against your application. If you are not challenged by the standard offerings in your school, you might want to look to your community for other ways that you can challenge yourself academically.  Are there online courses, community college classes or summer programs that will quench your academic thirst?

 By Whitney Bruce, who has worked in college admissions since 1996. She has served as an Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to advise you as you apply to college.

The Admissions Yield

As colleges and universities admit their freshman classes, they are trying to read your mind as to whether you are likely to attend.  That’s right.  To some, a measure of college prestige is the yield rate, or the percentage of students who accept an offer of admission to a particular institution.  The higher the yield rate, the more popular one might construe the college to be.

As colleges play the rankings game, some of them are trying to influence yield by predicting which applicants are more likely to enroll.  One type of student who is more likely to enroll:  a student who has demonstrated interest in the college.  Students who have visited the campus, attended an off-campus presentation, participated in an alumni interview, or stopped by a table at a college fair are demonstrating more interest in the college than a student whose Common Application is his or her first contact with the admissions office.

For the current high school student, when you visit a college, take the tour or drop in to the admissions office.  Attend your local college fair and seek out the schools in which you are interested.  If you are considering a college, demonstrate your interest.

By Whitney Bruce, who has administered standardized tests (SAT, ACT, and AP) to thousands of students since 2000.  She has served as an Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to advise you as you apply to college.

FT Global Rankings: Expansionist Dreamers

B-schools are no longer content staying on home soil, reports the Financial Times in a supplementary article to their recent Global MBA Rankings.

The latest expansionist trend is to extend the traditional four-walled classroom overseas. Harvard Business School used to pride itself on its steadfast commitment to bring students to the school and NOT to bring the school to the students; even Harvard has succumbed in a limited way.

The mighty help support others to become mighty as well. In the 1950s Harvard helped the burgeoning IESE and INSEAD programs in Europe get started and succeed. Now top European b-schools are expanding off shore (like IESE to New York City) and helping new MBA programs grow in Asia and the Middle East. Even India (a country that generally beats its own drum in management education) has “signaled a green light to international business schools to enter the market.”

Ajit Rangnekar, Indian School of Business Dean predicts the future of educational expansionism and the effects it may have on management education:

Global institutions from emerging markets, with an inherent cost advantage, will become more attractive destinations for management education, as well as a resource pool for management talent. There will also be a growth in demand for research on emerging markets, accompanied by a spurt in collaborations/partnerships among business schools globally.

The first part of Dean Rangnekar’s prediction has already come true, as is evidenced by the boom in foreign student enrollment in China. The number of non-Chinese students at CEIBS in Shanghai, for example, has doubled in five years.

Even U.S. students are experiencing this blossoming “wanderlust” as they begin to look “beyond their home market to study for an MBA.”

Related Accepted.com Resources:

Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

“Rankings Fever” Hits International Rankings Scene

Whenever a major ranking report is released (like last month’s Financial Times rankings), the world starts to go crazy about rankings: Are rankings valuable? Are they accurate? How can prospective students benefit from rankings? How do you read rankings? And lastly, the topic of a recent Chronicle article, how will global rankings affect global education?

The Chronicle article discusses the European Union’s initiative to create a comprehensive global university ranking system. The project promises a “superior product” that will significantly influence the internationalization of higher education.

The EU’s new rankings have a budget of $1.6 million. It will be run by a German-Dutch-Belgian-French consortium whose mission is to develop a ranking system “that goes beyond the research performance of universities, to include elements such as teaching quality and community outreach.”

The consortium will develop university profiles based on the following six categories: teaching and learning, student body, international orientation, research, disseminating research, and regional engagement.

Why are universities so inclined to “measure up” on an international scale? A few factors have led to this increased pressure:

  • Worldwide enrollment jumped more than 50% last decade.
  • An increase in university expansion to and partnership with foreign universities.

As universities and prospective students become more and more hyped about global rankings, those rankings will hold more and more weight, and attract increasing criticism.

“[The rankers] all understand they’re very vulnerable to criticism,” says Thomas D. Parker of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. “All of them are aware that they started out with pretty simple tools, and that if they’re going to satisfy anybody, they need to get a bit smarter.”

Most of the skepticism on the forthcoming EU rankings rests on the rankings’ perceived vagueness. For example, Frans van Vugt, one of the leaders of the new project, describes the “resulting classification of each institution to a sunburst, with each category contributing a ray.” I guess we’ll have to see it to know what he’s talking about.

Potential areas of weakness in the EU’s rankings include:

  • Peer review, one of the EU ranking’s criteria, is subject to abuse and is highly criticized. Will peer attitudes be biased or will they accurately reflect what test scores and more measurable criteria can’t assess?
  • Research, a key criterion in other major rankings, may move decidedly off the radar. The EU rankings will steer focus away from “research intensity and toward a handful of other indicators.”

In all fairness, the EU rankings are still in the early stages of development. A test run is scheduled for 2011. We’ll reserve judgment until then.

Related Resources:


Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings

The Financial Times  published today its 2010 ranking of global MBA programs. Its ranking attempts to “assess the effect of the MBA on … subsequent career progression and salary growth.” Consequently it draws its data from the schools themselves and from surveys of graduates at least three years after earning their MBA degree. In building its rankings, FT analyzes “alumni salaries and career development; the diversity and international reach of the business school and its MBA programme; and the research capabilities of each school.” For complete information on FT’s methodology, please see “Getting to Grips with the Method.”

Rather than list all my important caveats for using rankings, I’ll simply refer you to our MBA Rankings Report.

The best business schools according to FT:

  1. London Business School
  2. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. Stanford GSB
  6. Columbia Business School
  7. IE (tied with Columbia)
  8. MIT Sloan
  9. Chicago Booth
  10. Hong Kong UST Business School

I have long argued that far more valuable than the overall rankings are the specialty rankings. Here are FT’s specialty rankings:

Top for international business
1 Thunderbird School of Global Management
2 University of South Carolina: Moore
3 Georgetown University: McDonough
4 Insead
5 George Washington University
6 Hult International Business School
8 Manchester Business School
9 University of Southern California: Marshall
10 London Business School

Top for finance
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 New York University: Stern
3 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
4 Rice University: Jones
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 London Business School
7 Columbia Business School
8 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
9 University of Iowa: Tippie
10 University of Toronto: Rotman

Top for accountancy

1 Brigham Young University: Marriott
2 University of Chicago: Booth
3 University of Texas at Austin: McCombs
4 New York University: Stern
5 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
6 University of Rochester: Simon
7 Cornell University: Johnson
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 Rice University: Jones
10 Texas A & M University: Mays

Top for entrepreneurship
1 Babson College: Olin
2 Stanford University GSB
3 Imperial College Business School
4 UCLA: Anderson
5 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
6 MIT Sloan School of Management
7 University of Cambridge: Judge
9 Wisconsin School of Business
10 Insead

Top for economics
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 Cranfield School of Management
3 MIT Sloan School of Management
4 Yale School of Management
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 Imperial College Business School
7 Melbourne Business School
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 IE Business School
10 New York University: Stern

Top for corporate social responsibility
1 University of Notre Dame: Mendoza
2 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
3 Yale School of Management
4 Ipade
5 University of Virginia: Darden
6 Brigham Young University: Marriott
7 Esade Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler
10 Thunderbird School of Global Management

Top for general management
1 University of Virginia: Darden
2 Harvard Business School
3 Ipade
4 Dartmouth College: Tuck
6 University of Michigan: Ross
7 University of Western Ontario: Ivey
8 Northwestern University: Kellogg
9 Stanford University GSB
10 Duke University: Fuqua

Top for marketing
1 Northwestern University: Kellogg
2 Duke University: Fuqua
3 Indiana University: Kelley
4 Ipade
5 Esade Business School
6 Wisconsin School of Business
7 Imperial College Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 HEC Paris
10 Cornell University: Johnson

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

Study Casts Doubt on Rankings

25% of the criteria that gets measured by U.S. News & World Report for their annual rankings is based on school “reputation.” New research reveals that “reputational rankings” are not updated as accurately as prospective students think and may not reveal much about a given school’s actual reputation.

In an Inside Higher Ed article entitled “Circular Ratings,” Scott Jaschik explains:

What the research found is that the reputational scores don’t correlate with changes in factors such as resources or graduation rates, but correlate with the previous year’s rankings. In other words, the way you get a good reputational score—and in turn a good ranking—is to already have a good ranking.

This research supports the criticism that U.S. News has long gotten from frustrated college officials. It allows for a more conclusive doubt to be cast upon the reputational rankings in specific, and the whole ranking system in general: How is it possible that a college can change so much about itself—qualitatively and quantitatively—but have its reputation remain unchanged year-to-year?

Leader of U.S. News college rankings, Robert Morse, admits that the reputational scores remain “relatively stable from one year to another,” but defends this reality by asserting that schools themselves admit to slow changes on a year-to-year basis, so the reputational scores change slowly to match what’s really going on.

So the question remains: If the findings show that reputational rankings are based more on past rankings than on any current measurements, then should they be taken so seriously? Should they really be worth 25% of the total ranking score?

Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Stanford Wins First Place for Forbes’ “The Most Satisfied MBAs”

Forbes took its survey findings from “The Best Business Schools” and compiled a second rankings report: “The Most Satisfied MBAs.”

Stanford won top slot for both rankings. It is #1 for providing the best return on investment for its graduates, as well as for churning out MBAs who are extremely satisfied with their current jobs and their completed b-school experience.

The survey shows that Stanford alumni are more likely than grads from any other business school to sing praises to their alma mater. School satisfaction and job satisfaction are closely intertwined with financial success, says Pulin Sanghvi, Stanford GSB Director of Career Management and Stanford GSB ’97 alum. “True satisfaction happens from work-life actualization,” he says, referring to the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness at Work. “We nurture students to pursue career decisions based on their internal drivers. That they then become financial successes is just a bonus.”

The Top Ten US B-Schools with the Most Satisfied Graduates

1.   Stanford GSB

2.   Wharton

3.   Chicago Booth

4.   NYU Stern

5.   Brigham Young University

6.   UC Berkeley Haas

7.   Dartmouth Tuck

8.   UCLA Anderson (tied)

8.   University of Rochester Simon Graduate School of Business (tied)

10. University of Virginia Darden

The Top Ten Non-US B-Schools with the Most Satisfied Graduates

1.   Oxford

2.   IESE

3.   London Business School

4.   IPADE

5.   Insead

6.   HEC-Paris

7.   IMD

8.   ESADE (tied)

8.   IE (tied)

10. Cranfield School of Management

For more information on the value of rankings and how you should (or should not) use them, check out Accepted.com’s new special report on MBA rankings.


Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best