Parsing Business School Rankings

US NewsIn March 2014, the Wharton Business School Community (University of Pennsylvania) was happy to learn that the School’s full-time MBA program was ranked first in the U.S. (along with Harvard and Stanford) by US News.

Since the first ranked list of 20 programs appeared in Business Week in 1988, there has been a proliferation of ranked lists. In addition to full-time MBA programs, there are now rankings of MBA programs world-wide, evening/part-time MBA programs, executive MBA programs, undergraduate business programs, and executive education.

US News Ranking - Click to Expand

US News Ranking – Click to Expand

The publications doing the rankings typically create scores by combining a variety of factors, including admission selectivity, starting salaries, and executive recruiters perceptions. One exception to the methodology, are the Forbes rankings, which uses return on investment of the MBA degree as the sole criteria.

Here are the ranks of full-time U.S. MBA programs from the most recent editions of four publications.


Comparison of MBA Program Rank

Considering the variety of factors and weights that go into creating scores, it isn’t surprising that there is some variation in the ranks among publishers.

The rankings for the top 15 or so MBA programs tend to be fairly stable.

The graph below shows the composite ranks of MBA programs in 2002 compared to 2006. Schools that were ranked in the first quartile in 2002 (the highest ranked 15 programs) were with one exception, ranked in the first quartile in 2006.

Ranks graph

For additional information see:

Halperin, Michael, Robert Hebert, and Edward Lusk. “Comparing the Rankings of MBA Curricula: Do Methodologies Matter?” Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship 14, no.1, 2009: 47-62.

Business school ranks are easy to find thanks to a site developed and maintained by Bob Hebert, Management Librarian at Wake Forest University. The Business School Ranks guide covers the most important sources of business school rankings, and includes links to news and information sources about the world of business schools.

For additional information see our business FAQ on rankings.

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