Rankings have always been a mixed blessing – they provide so much valuable information, but if you don’t know how to analyze or use that data properly, then best case scenario, they become worthless, and worst case scenario, they become harmful.
GMAC has just released a new tool, User’s Guide to Full-Time MBA Rankings, that will help prospective graduate business students better understand ranking methodologies for the five major rankings (Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report). The user-friendly, interactive tool compares the content of the five rankings, providing information on which rankings provide which features or priorities best.
“Our research shows that individuals applying to graduate management education programs consider rankings an influential part of their decision-making process,” said Sangeet Chowfla, President & CEO of GMAC in the GMAC press release. “Though rankings exist to provide useful information to judge the quality of MBA programs, the existence of multiple rankings contributes to confusion among applicants. We created this resource to clarify the differences among the various rankings, as no one ranking methodology can speak to the individual needs and aspirations of every candidate considering a business degree.”
Understanding the 14 Categories
The User’s Guide to Full-Time MBA Rankings looks at 14 standardized weighting categories, and examines how each of the methodologies assigns weight to these categories. One ranking may put more weight on ROI (like Forbes), while another weights employer opinion more heavily (Bloomberg Businessweek). Once each category has been weighted, users can then see which category or categories most differentiate one ranking’s methodology from the others – this is known as the “distinctive emphasis.” Making distinctions among rankings in this way can help prospective students understand which factors contribute to making each publication’s rankings unique.
The 14 categories are as follows, with the rankings for which this category is the distinctive emphasis in parentheses:
1. Admissions selectivity (U.S. News)
2. Alumni opinion
3. Business school leader opinion (U.S. News)
4. Career progress
5. Career services rating (The Economist)
6. Employer opinion
7. Employment rate (Bloomberg Businessweek)
8. Faculty quality (Financial Times)
9. Gender parity
10. Internationalization (Financial Times)
11. Network (The Economist)
12. Return on investment (Forbes)
14. Student/recent graduate opinion
The tool also shows users how volatile rankings can be. The positions of the programs within a particular ranking change year to year, sometimes quite dramatically, and once you understand the reasons behind these changes, you’ll understand that these shifts in position have little to do with the change in quality of education.
Some of the other features of the User’s Guide include:
• A list of which business schools are included in each ranking’s full-time MBA ranking
• Statistics on the number of students around the world using each publication, and the degree to which that publication’s rankings influences their decision-making
• Accessibility of rankings data
• Ranking dates and frequency
• Ranking history
Check out the new User’s Guide here, and please be in touch with us if you need further help figuring out which b-schools are best for you.