Rankings are often the first stop when applicants begin choosing their MBA targets. The rankings game has been dominated by four or five major players over the years but there is another you may not be considering, which may be worth watching.
Poets and Quants has only been publishing MBA rankings since 2010, a mere blip on the timeline compared to BusinessWeek, US News, Forbes, The Economist and the Financial Times. But in that same short time, they have garnered a very reliable reputation for their methodology.
Unlike these other stalwart rankings, Poets & Quants actually combines those rankings into their own proprietary score.
Instead of just averaging the scores, each of these reputed rankings is individually weighted to account for P&Q’s opinion of their “credibility.” Specifically, Poets & Quants gives U.S. News a weight of 35%, Forbes gets 25%, Financial Times and Businessweek each get 15% weight, and The Economist, 10%. Combining these five major rankings helps to eliminate the flaws inherent in each system, which are numerable. For example, it is widely known that US News rankings relies heavily on the subjective opinion of recruiters and deans, so is prone to availability bias or marketing influence (or sometimes pure laziness). This approach by P&Q helps massage out the fluctuations and suppresses faulty or biased technique. The composite index essentially “tones down the noise” from each of the five major surveys to get more directly to the underlying strengths and weaknesses of each school in any given year.
This approach is not ground-breaking or novel, but it does take a lot of work out of someone trying to do it themselves.
It also does not radically disrupt the prevailing trends. For example, almost every Top 25 school in the P&Q ranking retains its Top 25 status in the subsequent year. Unlike some of the majors, the P&Q school rankings generally move up or down by only one place from year to year, resulting in a smoother, more reliable and less dramatic fluctuation of rankings.
Some say it’s boring.
While the list is seemingly more stable than other rankings, it does risk the outlier or up and comer school which is innovating-their-way up the charts on another board. The P&Q folks must accounfor t a massive wealth of quantitative and qualitative data captured in the other lists, from surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, deans and faculty publication records to median GPA and GMAT scores of entering students as well as the latest salary and employment statistics of alumni. All this data crunching can crush the creative flash right out of the pan, so to speak, so be careful you are not numbed into acceptance with P&Q’s data-scrubbing. It’s always a good idea to consider as many sources as you can.