MBA Rankings Coverage
Since the late 1960s, publications have released MBA rankings based on differing methodologies. Common ranking criteria include admissions statistics, post-MBA career outcomes, and feedback from students, alumni, and employers. While each ranking has its own methodology, it is important to note that they change frequently, often resulting in significant changes year-to-year (and sometimes sparking criticism from those with an interest in the market for graduate management education).
Bloomberg Business Week was an early pioneer of MBA rankings, and remains influential. US News & World Report is generally considered the most accurate ranking of U.S. programs. The Financial Times and Forbes use slightly different methodologies, but are also closely watched rankings worth consideration. For your convenience, we have provided quick summaries of these major MBA program rankings:
- Bloomberg BusinessWeek Ranking
- US News & World Report Ranking
- Financial Times Ranking
- Forbes Ranking
- The Economist
Most MBA rankings are released annually. MBA applicants generally look to rankings to help them identify MBA programs to consider, whereas schools use the rankings to highlight their prominence in the marketplace.
Different rankings list schools in different orders, and even so, no ranking gets it right; this is illustrated by looking at the top three schools listed for each of the four rankings we profile above. None of the four has Harvard and Stanford as 1-2 (in either order), and Wharton as 3. That order is accepted in the industry, and reinforced by our own internal analysis of DecisionWire data. It is because of these inconsistencies in main stream rankings that we believe a tiered-ranking system actually makes more sense.
In a tiered-ranking system, we suggest that certain schools, like Booth, Sloan, and Kellogg, are equally good, and for different candidates, based on their preferences, one may well be preferred over the other two. If you want a more tech-focused MBA for your long term goals, Sloan might be best. If your interests like in the financial services arena, Booth might have the edge, whereas Kellogg should provide your more opportunities in the consulting arena.
This is all to say, we don’t believe there is a true ordinal ranking for all candidates, without taking into account an individual candidate’s preferences regarding career and geographic focus.