Poets and Quants decided to stop merely criticizing other business school rankings and created a ranking of its own (“The Top 100 U.S. MBA Programs of 2011”). For the second year in a row P&Q’s rankings are a composite of the five major MBA rankings: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes and US News & World Report. As a composite of other rankings, the P&Q rankings reflect surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, and deans, faculty publication records, median GPA and GMAT scores of entering students, as well as the salary and employment statistics of the latest graduating class.
For the second year in a row Harvard Business School was named the top MBA program in the US, with Stanford Graduate School of Business coming in second, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business coming in third, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School coming in fourth and Columbia Business School claiming the fifth spot.
John Byrne, editor-in-chief of Poets and Quants, explained that each of the rankings has a different level of impact on the P&Q rankings: “BusinessWeek, U.S. News and Forbes each have a weight of 25%. The FT is at 15% and The Economist is at 10%.” Basically, the P&Q ranking is a weighted average of all the rankings. Byrne believes that by combining these rankings in “a system that takes into account each of their strengths as well as their flaws,” P&Q can create the ideal ranking system void of the “anomalies” and “statistical distortions” of the other rankings.
Yet, developing a weighted average of a bunch of flawed stats does not compensate, much less eliminate, those flaws. In the end, P&Q rankings are guilty of the same mistakes as the rankings they criticize. Their one redeeming quality is that Poets and Quants publishes the index scores on which their composite rankings are based, giving readers the ability to decide how meaningful the differences in ranking are to them.
The data provided by P&Q (as well as the individual rankings that constitute P&Q’s) is far more valuable than the actual rankings. Averages frequently hide what’s important – like salaries in a particular region or field, or admissions stats for different test scores, qualifications and groups. But with the index scores applicants can prioritize what they are looking for in schools and then see how high specific schools scored in those categories.
Bottom line: You need to do your own ranking based on your own values, not a weighted average of others’ values.