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MBA Rankings: MBA School Rankings

We have a long tradition of rankings in  the united States. American magazines were the first to compile lists of the top 500 companies, the 100 richest people, the 50 best places to live and even the 10 worst-dressed movie stars. Rankings are entrenched in popular culture and classifying the products of the free market keeps the wheels for capitalism turning. But you need to take rankings with a big grain of salt!

Business Week, US News & World Report, and only fairly recently the Financial Times publish Business School Rankings every year or two. The results are eagerly awaited and are the subject of much debate amongst the schools, alumni, recruiters and MBA candidates. The results of the rankings change from one year to the next, and from one publication to another. For example, Stanford is ranked number one by US News, but is placed number eleven in the Business Week rankings of the same year.

One of the explanations for such disparities is the lack of a single, objective method for compiling of rankings of the best MBAs. The aim is to compare different institutions according to a number of pre-defined criteria. It's easy to company the respective heights of Al and George because height is an objective measure that provides easy comparative data. But things get a little trickier when you are trying to establish whether Columbia is better than MIT. Imagine that you are a journalist at Business Week, and that your boss has just asked you to come up with a methodology for business school rankings. What are the criteria you'll use? Graduating salaries, or the number of Nobel Prize-winning professors, GMAT scores or recruiter satisfaction? The Business Week, US News, and Financial times rankings are the result of a number of journalists' subjective selection of data for defining the schools. Furthermore, the criteria change from year to year in some publication. this explains why the rankings differ from one publication to the next and, even within the same publication, from year to year.

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