Business School Rankings

Ranking the Best US MBA Programs According to Jobs Data | Updated for 2017

Ranking the Best US MBA Programs According to Jobs Data | Updated for 2017

Today, we are going to rank business schools across several industry categories: finance, consulting, technology, CPG, pharma, biotechnology, health care, media & entertainment, energy, and real estate.

Instead of esoteric formulas, we rely on each schools published career center data as the basis for our business school rankings.

How to Answer the "What Other MBA Programs Are You Applying To?" Question

How to Answer the "What Other MBA Programs Are You Applying To?" Question

Pay particular attention to the question that some b-schools ask during the interview and/or on your application:

  • What Other Programs Are You Applying To?

Why would they ask this question? The reason is this:

  • B-schools are keen to know who they are competing against.  They want to know how applicants view the correlation between programs but also if you are using the school as a backup or safe school.
  • Note that this question is pretty much asked by MBA programs who have been burned by their "yield" in year's past.  That is, the admissions committee extends a lot of invites and only gets a handful of positive replies. 

Let's use UCLA Anderson as an illustrative example ...

Ranking the Best MBA Programs for Real Estate

Ranking the Best MBA Programs for Real Estate

Michigan Ross (really?) comes out on top when it comes to sending graduates (as a percentage of all graduates in 2015) back into the real estate industry with a job.

Stanford GSB is close second, with Yale SOM in third and UCLA Anderson in fourth. According to the employment data Ross reported, Michigan is the place to be if you're into real estate and want to work for a related firm in the industry.  

What I think about the Business School Rankings

Business school rankings are an attempt by different publications to apply a methodology to the various aspects of an MBA program. This methodology then allows for a fair (subjective) comparison between all the affected b-schools. Different publications place different weights on the varying aspects of each b-school program. Often these weights change from year to year within the same publication. With the same publication, this leads to the inability to accurately compare schools from year to year. Across numerous publications, this just leads to confusion. For instance, some publications will rank Harvard “number one”, while others won’t even have it in the “top ten”. Is it possible for a b-school to change so much in one year? Not likely. As stated above, it’s most likely the publication.

So who can you rely upon? The two most consistent b-school rankings have come from “US News and World Report” and from Business Week. Business Week issues their ranking every other year, while US News issues them every year. Every other year is probably a good policy as b-schools, containing a certain amount of institutional memory, really don’t change too much from year to year. The top ten schools have very little turnover in these two polls. You can argue with their methodology but at least you know what you are going to get. These two heavy-hitters are the ones that everyone refers to and the only ones that that the business world really seems to care about with respect to bragging rights.

Other publications offer their own shot at rankings the b-schools with mixed results. Forbes gives theirs, the WSJ, the Economist and the Financial Times all have their own. These should be considered the second tier of b-schools rankings. Although these publications’ rankings may be totally legitimate with respect to methodology, they are not paid as much attention to as US News and Business Week because they are not as consistent. When these publications drop a Harvard or University of Chicago from their “top ten”, the methodologies that produced these incredulous results tend to lose, well, credibility. Question any ranking publication that has a school in the top ten one year and then in the 20s the next year. No school changes that much.

All this being, why should you even pay attention to the rankings? Why should it affect your decision to go to b-school? Simply put, perception is reality. Think about it, when you go to get that big banking or consulting job out of b-school, the big banks or consulting firms want the prestige that is associated with the top schools. They want that prestige and they are willing to pay for it. This is why recruiters also love candidate from the top 15 schools in the world. These top schools produce, maybe not the best candidates, but the most prestigious candidates. Usually, the top school’s produce the best and the most prestigious candidates. These students get paid the top dollar and their employer now has bragging rights.

Thus, the bottom line is that, love them or hate them, rankings do matter.