Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2018 Ranking of Best Business Schools

Bloomberg Businessweek recently announced its 2018 ranking of the best business schools in the United States. This year, Harvard Business School got bumped out of the top spot, making room for Stanford Graduate School of Business to take first place. It’s also the first time in 30 years the Stanford GSB has come in first on a Bloomberg Businessweek ranking. A full global ranking will  come out on December 11.

Top Ten Best Business Schools in the U.S. (2017 ranking in parenthesis)

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business (5)
  2. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (2)
  3. Harvard Business School (1)
  4. MIT Sloan School of Management (3)
  5. University of Chicago Booth School of Business (4)
  6. UC Berkeley Haas School of Business (11)
  7. Columbia Business School (9)
  8. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management (8)
  9. UV Darden School of Business (17)
  10. Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management (13)

New Methodology for 2018 Ranking

Bloomberg Businessweek introduced a new, stakeholder-centered methodology for these rankings. This year, the magazine sought to answer three main questions.

  • Are schools offering what millennial students need?
  • Are recent graduates able to leverage what they’ve learned and tap into their schools’ networks?
  • What do businesses value most in recruits?

“To find out, we visited 15 business schools, met with representatives of MBA programs in our New York headquarters, and interviewed others from schools around the world,” Bloomberg Businessweek explains. All told, the magazine spoke with representatives from 43 schools.

To begin, the researchers went deep and wide for this survey of the best business schools. They polled 10,473 students, 15,050 alumni, and 3,698 employers who recruit at b-schools.

Using survey results in addition to job-placement and compensation data from the schools, Bloomberg Businessweek created four indexes. These are weighted as follows: Compensation (38.5%), Networking (27.9%), Learning (23.1%), and Entrepreneurship (10.5%).

“These new indexes are the building blocks for our 2018 overall ranking,” the news magazine says. You can learn more about the significant changes to its rankings methodology on the Bloomberg Businessweek website.

Not Everyone is a Fan

As to be expected, Poets & Quants has some sharp observations about the reliability and validity of this new method.  Editor John A Byrne gives the magazine credit for trying to do something novel with the creation of these four indexes. However, he also finds this foundation shaky at best.

“The magazine’s editors would have you believe that the best three MBA programs [for] learning are at William & Mary, the University of Utah and the University of Texas at Dallas,” Byrnes writes.

“We have no beef with the excellence of those MBA programs, but is there anyone in the world, outside of those schools’ stakeholders, who would agree that these programs provide better MBA learning  than Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and the rest of the so-called Magnificent 7? We don’t think so.”

Our View on Rankings

While rankings can inform your decision of where to apply, applicants would do well to focus more on a program’s culture, size, or the strength of its alumni network. When Stacy Blackman Consulting last surveyed business school applicants to find out what matters most to today’s applicants and why, fewer than 12 percent of survey respondents considered culture a top priority. A mere handful considered program content the most important factor influencing the decision to attend a particular business school.

These troubling results indicate people aren’t paying enough attention to the program that’s truly a good fit for them. We’re realists and know those headed for b-school really can’t help themselves. But, keep in the back of your mind that placing too heavy an emphasis on rankings can actually become a distraction. Take multiple factors into consideration when making your final school selection.

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