Too many MBA Rankings – which one to follow?

I have been reading, re-reading and again visiting school websites and resources to finalize the schools I want to apply. Like many others, I take help of different rankings available online. But each one shows different schools in top 5. So, I researched to find out what each ranking is based on and below is what I found out. I hope this becomes useful to many others like me! [Check out my new blog post on this]

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings

BusinessWeek bases its MBA rankings on:

  • 45% on student satisfaction surveys of recent MBA Program graduates
  • 45% on surveys of corporate recruiters based on their experiences with a school’s graduates
  • 10% on “intellectual capital” calculated by BusinessWeek, which tallies points for appearance of the faculty’s research in 18 specific publications

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

BusinessWeek surveys MBA graduates and corporate recruiters, and measures faculty publications.

Every two years, BusinessWeek asks the graduating MBA classes at schools to complete an online survey. MBAs evaluate “everything from the quality of teaching to the efficacy of career placement offices” using a scale of 1-10 for each question. Responses from the graduating class account for half of a school’s student satisfaction score. The other half of the MBA program rankings comes from the responses of the two previous BusinessWeek rankings classes, which carry a weight of 25% each. The resulting student satisfaction score receives a 45% weighting in the overall MBA program ranking.

BusinessWeek also asks corporate recruiters who hire MBAs to complete an online MBA ratings survey. Recruiters rate their top 20 schools based on their company’s experiences with a school’s graduates. Each school’s total score is divided by the number of responding companies that recruit from that school. BusinessWeek reported that there tend to be greater differences among schools in the corporate survey, so recruiter opinion can have a greater impact on the overall ranking. In 2006, BusinessWeek no longer based each school’s recruiter score on a single survey and, instead, combined the three most recent polls, as it does with the student surveys. The 2006 recruiter survey counts for 50% of the recruiter score, while the 2004 and 2002 surveys contribute 25% each. Combined, the three recruiter polls accounted for 45% of the final ranking. The recruiter score accounts for 45% of any MBA program’s ranking score.

Finally, BusinessWeek calculates each school’s “intellectual capital” rating by tallying faculty’s publications in 18 publications, and adds points if The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or BusinessWeek reviewed a professor’s book. Tallies are adjusted for faculty size. The intellectual capital score accounts for 10% of a school’s MBA ranking.

Financial Times MBA Rankings

The Financial Times bases its MBA rankings:

  • 55% on career progression by surveys of alumni, with salary data as the largest measure
  • 25% on diversity of faculty, students and board members and the international experience of students, by surveys completed by the schools themselves
  • 20% on research, calculated by the Financial Times

Detailed MBA Ranking Methodology

The Financial Times measures three areas in its annual MBA ranking:

  • Career progression
  • Diversity of faculty, students and board members, and the international experience of MBA students
  • Research

The Financial Times sends a questionnaire to alumni three years after graduation to chart their progress from pre-MBA program, through graduation and into the workplace. Their “career progress,” for which the salary data is the largest measure, accounts for 55% of the MBA ranking.

Each school completes a survey, which measures diversity of faculty, advisory board members and students, and international experiences of the MBA students. These diversity and international measures account for 25% of the overall MBA program ranking.

Finally, the Financial Times rates each school for “ideas generation,” which accounts for 20% of the weighting of the overall Financial Times ranking. This research ranking is based on a rating of faculty publications in 40 international academic and practitioner journals (10%); the percentage of faculty with doctoral degrees (5%); and the number of doctoral graduates from the last three academic years with additional weighting for graduates who took faculty positions at one of the top 50 schools in the most recent FT ranking (5%).

Forbes MBA Rankings

Forbes ranks return on investment of MBA programs based on:

  • Average 5-year increase in compensation compared to pre-MBA salary for each school’s graduates
  • Cost of each MBA program, including estimated foregone salary

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

Forbes ranks “return on investment” for MBA programs. For its most recent MBA program ranking, which was released in 2007, Forbes surveyed 2002 graduates of 102 MBA programs around the world.

To determine the five-year MBA gain, Forbes asked alumni for their pre-M.B.A. salaries as well as compensation figures for three of the first five years after getting their degrees. Forbes compared their post-M.B.A. compensation with their opportunity cost (tuition and forgone salary while in school) and what they would have made had they stayed in their old jobs. Forbes adjusted for cost-of-living expenses and discounted the earnings gains, using a rate tied to money market yields.

U.S. News & World Report MBA Rankings

U.S. News & World Report bases its MBA rankings:

  • 25% on ratings by business school deans and MBA program directors
  • 15% on ratings by recruiters of the schools at which they recruit
  • 35% on placement statistics provided by each school
  • 25% on school-reported “selectivity”, the percentage of applicants the school accepts for admission

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology U.S. News & World Report sends surveys to all accredited MBA programs. The annual MBA ranking includes:

  • Surveys of deans and MBA program directors who rate programs (25% of the overall ranking)
  • Corporate recruiters rate the programs where they recruit (15% of the overall MBA ranking)
  • “Statistical indicators,” which include placement success (35% of the overall MBA ranking) and student selectivity (25% of the overall MBA ranking)

Specialty MBA rankings are based solely on ratings by deans and program directors, who can list up to 10 MBA programs for excellence in each area listed. The 10 schools receiving the most votes appear in the ranking.

The Wall Street Journal MBA Rankings

  • The Wall Street Journal bases its MBA program rankings 100% on surveys of recruiters’ perceptions of the MBA programs from which they recruit.

Detailed MBA Rankings Methodology

The ranking components for all schools measured in the 2006 survey include three elements: perception of the school and its students (21 attributes); intended future supportive behavior toward that school; and mass appeal. For national and regional schools, mass appeal is defined as the total number of respondents who recruit MBA graduates from that school. For international schools, mass appeal is defined as the number of countries in which the school’s recruiters are based.

Each of these three components – perception, supportive behavior and mass appeal – accounts for one-third of the overall 2006 rank. The 2006 ranking of schools that were ranked in 2005 and remained within the same cluster is based on an average of the 2006 and 2005 rank. For schools that are new to the MBA program ranking survey or moved between clusters, the ranking is based on 2006 results only.