Understanding B-School Rankings

For anyone perplexed about why so much variability exists between the different well-known MBA rankings, Matt Symonds’s recent article in Forbes does a great job of demystifying the subject.

In plain terms, he explains the focus of the methodology used by each of the five major business school rankings—US News, The Economist, Forbes, BusinessWeek, Financial Times—and shares how he and his team have compiled the results of the big five MBA rankings of the last 12 months to produce the MBA50.com Premiership.

I don’t like to encourage clients to focus too heavily on rankings when they’re making their MBA program selections, since obsessing over rankings can actually hinder applicants’ research process. But I do think Symond’s easy-to-absorb explainer of what each of the major rankings is actually based on can be quite helpful.

For instance, if you’re very focused on making sure your program of choice will provide a sizable return on investment, then the Forbes list may be the most useful to you. However, if overall satisfaction as reported by students and recruiters is important to you, then the BusinessWeek rankings would hold more weight.

Ultimately, as Symonds says, it’s not about finding out which MBA program is the absolute best; it’s about determining which b-school is the best one for you.

You may also be interested in:

Look Beyond the Top Business Schools for Your MBA

MBA Rankings: Valuable Tool or a Distraction for Applicants?


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