There are more graduate degrees awarded in business annually than in any other field in the US. Dozens of new business schools are accredited every year. Finding the right program for you can be an overwhelming task.
Bloomberg’s annual ranking, or more specifically the data collected to create those rankings, may help you wade through much of the information about MBA programs. Bloomberg Businessweek has ranked full-time MBA programs in the US since 1988. Its annual ranking of full-time US MBA programs is based on data compiled from more than 1,000 recruiters, 15,000 alumni, and 9,000 recent graduates. The survey is comprised of the following parts: Employer Survey (36%), Alumni Survey (30%), Student Survey (15%), Job Placement Rate (10%), and Starting Salary (10%), which provides a weighted ranking. Therefore, a school can have a high ranking, while not scoring high in every area.
Highlights from this year’s report include:
• Job placement three months post-MBA: 89.1%
• Average MBA debt for new grads: $53,000
• “Real” cost of studying two years: $248,000 (foregone wages + total cost of program)
Top Industries for New Graduates:
2016 Top 20 Top Schools:
You can find the complete rankings at Bloomberg Businessweek. Keep in mind that although Bloomberg’s rankings provide an in-depth picture of full-time MBA programs, rank is not the only important aspect to choosing a business school. Finding the best overall fit will provide you with the finest experience possible. Ultimately, you should be the one ranking the schools according to your needs and wants.
All rankings have strengths and weaknesses. For an excellent critique of these BW rankings, you can hear from the person who first developed them, John Byrne, at Poets and Quants. Normally I just rail against the rankings, but in this case, I’m going to highlight a possible use of the rankings. The surprises found in the rankings, especially the positive ones, may showcase programs that are strong options for those who can’t get accepted to programs normally higher ranked.
For example, Rice Jones is ranked #8, ahead of Kellogg, Haas, Columbia, Yale, and several other programs normally ranked higher. While this placement warrants a large grain of salt, perhaps it is also indicating that Rice Jones is an unappreciated gem and deserves a second look, especially if don’t feel you are competitive at top programs. Particularly for those interested in pursuing a career in energy or in the Gulf States, and who may not be competitive at top 15 programs, give Rice another look and most importantly, look beyond the ranking. Research the placement record, curriculum, campus vibe, and extracurricular opportunities.
One of the advantages of the BW rankings is that you can see the degree of difference among different schools. The top program, HBS, is at 100. However, from schools 2-7 the difference is 1.2 points in the index. It is completely insignificant and should be irrelevant to any decision you make.
As always, the data behind the rankings is much more important than the rankings themselves. Looking for advice on how you should rank and choose programs? Download a free copy of Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.