The University of Chicago Booth School of Business snagged the number one spot for the fourth year running in the Economist’s ranking of full-time MBA programs, the Which MBA? 2015, released today. Using a methodology that gives great weight to student and alumni experiences, the Economist each year generates a list of the top 100 full-time international MBA programs.
Booth’s strong performance in the overall rankings can be attributed chiefly to its ability to provide new career opportunities to its graduates. The school ranked tops out of all 100 schools both for the diversity of its recruiters and in terms of its students’ assessment of career services.
Coming in at number two this year was the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business—up one position from last year to yield the school’s best-ever showing in the Which MBA? ranking. Darden bested all other schools in the specialty ranking for “personal development and education experience” and also had a strong showing (No. 2) for “student rating of faculty.”
Darden’s strong performance in the Which MBA rankings was a welcome—though not shocking—development for newly-minted Darden Dean Scott Beardsley, who assumed his post just a few months ago. “A depth of learning happens at Darden that does not happen anywhere else,” Beardsley said in a statement announcing the school’s advancement in the rankings. “It’s intensive. It’s inspiring. It’s life changing. There really is no better place to realize your full potential as a leader and to advance your career,” he continued.
Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business flip-flopped with Darden in the Which MBA? list this year, slipping from No. 2 last year to No. 3. Tuck got strong marks for the diversity of its recruiters and its “student rating of alumni effectiveness.”
Harvard Business School (HBS) elbowed its way into the top five—snagging the No. 4 spot this year, up from No. 6 in 2014. It’s most highly ranked specialty areas were the diversity of its recruiters and the post-MBA salary its graduates report. France’s HEC Paris rounded out this year’s top five, slipping slightly from its 4th place ranking last year. Its strongest showings were in terms of increase in salary and potential to network.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, which often cluster at the top of other rankings, did not perform as well in the Economist’s line-up. Wharton took 10th and Stanford GSB came in at No. 13.
In a new twist this year, the Economist introduced a “Compare Schools” tool that enables readers to select up to four schools and compare them side to side across a range of fields. As in years past, the Economist employs a complicated methodology based on two surveys and a system of weighted averages to arrive at its rankings. The first survey is a quantitative survey completed by the schools themselves on matters such as graduates’ salaries, average GMAT scores and number of registered alumni, accounting for roughly 80 percent of the ranking. The second survey, accounting for 20 percent of the ranking, is qualitative in nature and completed by a school’s current MBA students and recent alumni, assessing things such as the quality of faculty, facilities and career services departments. The response rate to this survey must be at least 25 percent of the latest intake or 50 students/alumni, whichever is lower, for a school to be included in the rankings.
Responses to these two surveys help the Economist rank schools according to four main factors, which are also weighted: opening new career opportunities (35 percent); personal development/educational experience (35 percent); increase to salary (10 percent) and potential to network (10 percent). Finally, the Economist builds memory into the rankings by taking a weighted average of the three prior years’ data, 50, 30 and 20 percent respectively. This is done, according to the Economist’s published description of its methodology last year, “to provide a rounded picture of the school. Sudden movements in data, which might not produce an immediate increase in quality, are thus reflected gradually, much as the improvement would affect students.”
As always, those of us here at Clear Admit encourage prospective applicants to use rankings as just one of many criteria in determining which MBA program may be the best fit for your individual background, needs and goals.