Our comprehensive resource on ranking systems for MBA degree programs makes it easy to sort through the various school ranking systems available, providing insight into which graduate school of business will provide the best experience for you. A variety of United States business schools are listed in these rankings, and strong scores from prestigious MBA ranking organizations is a strong indicator of an institution’s quality.
Some business school rankings focus on a school’s traditional MBA program, while others focus entirely on a school’s online MBA degree program. But a school that places highly on U.S. business school rankings is likely to provide a solid education regardless of the program’s format. You can also compare online MBA program rankings in this article if you’re exclusively interested in getting your MBA online.
Though it can be tempting to look exclusively at the final number when looking at graduate business school rankings online, this is not the only factor you should consider. Most of the business school ranking organizations provide information on the individual considerations that go into the final scores, such as selectivity and qualifications of faculty. But these criteria can provide context for US business school rankings and help you make a decision about which business school to attend.
By looking at the specific criteria of each ranking system, you can enhance the value of the MBA rankings online. For example, if you are considering pursuing an online program, you will want to look past the top MBA rankings and consider how strong a school’s online infrastructure is, as some top schools do not have online programs. If you are considering your return on investment, you should look at which ranking systems place a higher value on ROI than other factors.
Read on to see how each school ranked according to various ranking systems.
Top business school rankings systems and their methodologies are explained below.
Bloomberg Businessweek is a weekly business magazine that has been published for more than 80 years. A trusted name in the field of business, the magazine’s rankings are well respected in the industry.
The methodology: The Businessweek ranking system ranks more than 200 accredited business schools. The MBA rankings primarily use two surveys: one is sent to recent MBA program graduates and the other is sent to company recruiters. Students rank the MBA program on several criteria, while recruiters pick the top 20 schools with which they are familiar.
The system used by Businessweek does a good job of modeling student satisfaction and corporate reputation for business schools. A school that ranks high in the Businessweek rankings is viewed strongly by business recruiters, and you are not likely to have a problem finding a job after finishing your MBA. However, if you are looking for a program that has a strong return on your tuition investment, you may want to look at a different set of rankings. Other ranking systems place more weight on financials, and will provide a clearer picture of where you should study if you want to make a high salary after finishing your MBA program.
America Economia is a Latin American business magazine that has operated since 1986, and has offices in several Latin American countries as well as in Miami. It provides analysis on several business topics of interest to Latin American entrepreneurs and those interested in doing business in the area.
The methodology: For its global business school rankings, America Economia uses five different factors. The school’s selectivity and the quality of its faculty make up half of the total ranking, and take into account factors like the average GMAT score and the percentage of teachers in the program who have doctoral degrees. Salary outcomes, prestige among America Economia readers, and the school’s connection with Latin America make up the other half of the final score.
The America Economia system for ranking business schools has advantages, especially if you would like to go into international business. The weight given to school connections to Latin America ensures schools have at least some international connection. However, the ranking methodology is flawed because much of the final score is dependent on the perceptions of readers of America Economia, and could potentially be biased toward certain schools.
US News is a news magazine, and was one of the first organizations to rank schools. It has added specialized rankings in fields like business and law since its initial rankings. The US News rankings are the magazine’s most popular feature, with millions of readers every year.
The methodology: The US News methodology for ranking schools is complex. Schools are ranked via assessment by peers and business recruiters, as well as employment rates, starting salaries, student GMAT scores, student undergraduate GPAs, and acceptance rate.
This methodology is one of the more robust and complex systems used for business school rankings, and as a result it provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s quality. However, the large number of ranking criteria means that any single factor is less important, so students who are primarily considering a single criteria such as faculty quality or job placement are likely to find less value in these rankings. But for a general picture of a school’s quality, US News’s methodology is one of the stronger ones available.
Forbes is a business magazine and site that provides news to business professionals, ranging from current market trends to lifestyle pieces. The news organization has published a biweekly magazine for nearly a century.
The methodology: The Forbes MBA rankings focus on a single criterion: return on investment. The ranking calculation looks at the salaries of students before and after enrolling, the cost of the program, and several other monetary factors in order to determine whether the program helps students make more money in the long term.
The Forbes methodology is straightforward and holds a great deal of appeal due to its simplicity. Rather than creating a complex algorithm to balance several different factors, the Forbes rankings highlight only the final result. However, this simplicity can leave students with uncertainty, as the Forbes rankings provide no insight into the quality of a school’s faculty or programs.
This London-based news and business journal is one of the oldest business magazines. Founded in the 1800s, it occasionally provides news on other topics as well, but its focus has always been on business and economic information, making its business school rankings a natural step.
The methodology: The Economist only ranks business schools perceived as the best in the world, choosing 130 schools to assess each year. Surveys with questions regarding the school and students’ career prospects are given to MBA graduates each year, with similar surveys given to business school leaders. Students are asked to assess everything from the quality of their faculty to the school’s alumni network.
The limited number of schools ranked by the Economist makes it a good choice for students who have performed well in business school and in the business world, as the schools assessed are typically top programs and highly selective. But students who are looking for a middle-of-the-road or “safety” school are less likely to find the Economist rankings helpful, due to their high standards in selecting which schools to rank. The comparatively low number of schools ranked means there are fewer schools to consider than offered by other ranking systems.
Founded in 1888 in the United Kingdom, the Financial Times is one of the oldest organizations focused on business news. It offers international business news in addition to its business school rankings in several different formats.
The methodology: Like other ranking systems, the Financial Times starts with accreditation and focuses primarily on the salary of graduates. Student satisfaction is also measured through a survey of recent graduates, and information on faculty quality and diversity is also considered. A less common metric the Financial Times uses is the school’s research rank. Forty-five prestigious business journals are examined, and the contribution of each school’s faculty to current business research is measured and noted.
Students interested in the strength of a school’s business research programs will find the Financial Times rankings helpful. But those interested in the MBA exclusively for professional opportunities should only consider the research rank an additional measure of faculty quality. Otherwise, the rankings are fairly standard, and not particularly different from other multiple-criteria systems used by ranking organizations.
This organization’s university rankings were first published in 2003, and were initially intended to compare the global standing of Chinese universities with those of other countries. However, these rankings have gained attention for their clear, straightforward methodology.
The methodology: The Shanghai Ranking Consortium’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) includes every institution with a Nobel laureate, Fields Medal recipient, or highly-cited researcher. Schools are ranked based on the award recipients among their alumni and staff, the number of highly-cited researchers they have, the number of papers they have published, and the percentage of their papers published in top journals in the field.
This ranking system can be seen primarily as a measure of faculty quality, as it focuses chiefly on the university’s research efforts. However, it does not focus on any of the specialized criteria that are often important to MBA students, such as salary changes and alumni network connections. A program that ranks highly here will not necessarily be viewed strongly by recruiters or have a strong alumni network, even if it is likely to provide a top-notch education.
CNN is a top cable news network, whose online presence garners millions of hits per day. They offer news and reporting on a wide range of topics, and have a dedicated section for business and finance content.
The methodology: CNN attributes its rankings to an organization named Poets&Quants, which generates its rankings through a composite list of the five most influential ranking systems. These include:
Businessweek, Forbes, and US News each make up 25% of the ranking weight, with 15% given to the Financial Times and 10% to the Economist.
This ranking system is a straightforward aggregation of most of the popular business school ranking methodologies. However, as it is only an aggregation rather than a ranking system in its own right, it provides no new information if a student already knows where to look for the other rankings.
One of the newest organizations on this list, Business Insider is a technology and business news site launched in 2009. Its articles have been cited by other business news outlets, and it has rapidly become a strong brand in the business world.
The methodology: The Business Insider rankings are generated through a survey of top professionals who read Business Insider, primarily those with hiring experience. The survey asks business professionals what they think is the most important resource a business school can offer to students. Top criteria include the school’s network of contacts, skills and knowledge offered in its courses, and brand value associated with the school.
The Business Insider rankings offer a unique perspective on which schools provide the traits that business professionals are looking for in a business school. The criteria being derived from surveys of businesspeople ensures the rankings reflect what is really desired in the market at present. However, it does mean that some criteria that are not at the forefront of the minds of business professionals, such as research contributions and student life, get neglected.
Princeton Review provides several yearly rankings and write-ups of schools in several fields, including business. However, rather than providing a single numerical ranking, they provide rankings in multiple categories, such as faculty quality or career assistance. Schools are not considered to be the best overall, only the best in a given category, with no singular list for overall quality. Due to this unique format, the Princeton Review’s listings are not mentioned here.