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HBS Soars to Top of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s New MBA Rankings

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When Duke’s Fuqua School of Business topped Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s MBA rankings last year, the magazine came under fire for a methodology that many claimed was flawed. This year, an overhauled methodology has yielded vastly different results, including Harvard Business School’s taking the No. 1 spot for the first time in the 27-year history of the rankings.

“Our annual ranking of full-time MBA programs now focuses on what most people hope to get after business school: a satisfying, well-paying job,” read the commentary that accompanied the rankings. Using a deeper and broader set of data than ever before—drawn from 13,150 current students, 18,540 alumni and 1,460 recruiters from 177 different MBA programs—Bloomberg BW‘s rankings are now the combination of five weighted measurements: an employer survey (accounting for 35 percent of the total score); an alumni survey drawing feedback from the classes of 2007, 2008 and 2009 (30 percent); a student survey of members of the Class of 2015 (15 percent); the school’s job placement rate (10 percent) and average starting salary (10 percent).

When evaluated in this revised way, the new MBA rankings reveal findings more in line with U.S. News and World Report, considered by many MBA admissions consultants to be among the most accurate of the multiple rankings that crowd the field. The usual suspects rise to the top in large part, although there are some major exceptions—like Stanford only appearing on the list at No. 7, Dartmouth’s Tuck School not making it into the top 10 (it ranked 14th), and NYU Stern plummeting to 24th.

The top 10 schools according to Bloomberg BW’s new rankings:

1  Harvard Business School
2  University of Chicago Booth School of Business
3  Kellogg’s Northwestern School of Management
4  MIT Sloan School of Management
5  University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School
6  Columbia Business School
7  Stanford Graduate School of Business
8  Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business
9  UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business
10 University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

Not only did HBS and Fuqua swap spots (the first jumping seven spots to No. 1 and the second plummeting from first to eighth), no school in the top 25 held the same rank this year as it did last year.

Of course, the strength of the programs at any of the individual schools didn’t shift so dramatically from one year to the next—instead it’s the change in methodology that accounts for the vast variation.

“With a sharper focus on what people most hope to get after business school, we think we’ve created the most effective ranking yet for helping career-oriented students choose an MBA program,” read the Bloomberg BW commentary.

Reflecting its self-professed aim of better measuring what people hope to get out of business school, the new ranking does offer a slick interactive element allowing readers to type in a school name to reveal adjusted charts reflecting pay growth, percent of students heading to startups, the percentage of graduates entering various industry sectors, where new grads end up in terms of U.S. region, average MBA debt and job placement three months post-MBA.

Bloomberg BW acknowledges that its new rankings methodology means that a school can rank highly overall even as it falls farther down the list in terms of the individual elements measured. HBS, for example, took the No. 1 spot despite the fact that it ranked 35th for job placement. No. 2 Chicago Booth ranked second in terms of job placement, but only 29th in terms of what its alumni had to say about their experience. A crazy looking chart helps showcase these variations.

Bloomberg BW also features a separate ranking of international MBA program, topped again by Western University’s Ivey Business School in Canada this year, as it was last year. The magazine’s ranking of part-time MBA programs places Northwestern’s Kellogg School at the top of the list.

You can view the entire 2015 Bloomberg BusinessWeek MBA Rankings here. As always, those of us here at Clear Admit urge prospective applicants to use rankings as just one of many factors when evaluating which business school will best suit your individual needs and goals.

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