Analysis: 2015 BusinessWeek Full-time MBA Rankings

businessweek mba rankings 2015Bloomberg BusinessWeek is discontinuing the biennial rankings from 2015 and has released the annual ranking for 2015. What is interesting this year is that for the first time in BusinessWeek MBA Ranking, Alumni Feedback (35%) has been included as part of the ranking. BW took inputs from Alumni, who have graduated in 2007, 08 and 09. The ranking has done away with the research papers published by the Faculty as one of the ranking factors. Instead, the focus has been exclusively on the post-MBA salary increase, placement trends, and brand value of the Business School.

With a heavy emphasis on Alumni and Student feedback, the powerhouse brands have taken over the rising stars. As expected, Harvard is on top, followed by Booth, and Kellogg.

Top 10 Business Schools (US)

1) Harvard
2) Booth
3) Kellogg
4) MIT Sloan
5) Wharton
6) Columbia
7) Stanford
8) Duke Fuqua
9) Berkeley Haas
10) Michigan Ross

Ranking Index Score

More than the ranking keep an eye on the ranking index score. Harvard is #1 with a score of 100. Booth has an index score of 98.47. A difference of 1 or 2 points is insignificant but if the index score varies by over 3 points, the difference between the schools is significant.

For example, Fuqua scores 94.07 and Haas 91.83 a significant difference if you ask us, but they are separated by just 1 rank.

If Harvard has a weighted score of 479 points, then what is the weighted score for Duke Fuqua?

(X/479)*100 = 94.07

X (Weighted Score for Fuqua) = 450.59

If Harvard has a weighted score of 479 points, then what is the weighted score for Haas?

(Y/479)*100 = 91.83

Y (Weighted Score for Haas) = 439.86

The difference in weighted scores is even greater. Let us assume that you pick schools just on ranking. Don’t pick a school just because they rank one place below your favorite school. Look closely at the numbers, especially the index score and the weighted score for a better perspective.

BusinessWeek has retained a separate ranking for International MBA programs (Non-US). It is partially justified given the variation in the duration of the MBA program. For this ranking, Ivey retains the top honors followed by London Business School, which made a comeback from #4 to #2. Similarly, Insead made a jump from #5 to #2. Unfortunately, the casualties are the rising stars like ESMT, Berlin, which lost 12 spots from #3 to #15.

Top Business Schools (International)

1) Western (Ivey)    
2)  London Business School    
3)  INSEAD    
4)  IE    
5)  IMD    
6)  Oxford (Saïd)    
7)  IESE    
8)  Cambridge (Judge)    
9)  Queen's    
10) HEC Paris

Last year, three factors influenced the ranking – student satisfaction (45%), Employer Feedback (45%) and Expertise of the Faculty (10%). In 2015, the ranking factors are Employer Feedback (35%), Alumni Feedback (30%), Student Feedback (15%), Job Placement Rate (10%) and Starting Salary (10%). However, there is one flaw in the ranking – a large percentage of recruiters tend to be Alumni of the Business School, thus influencing the ranking by over 50%. Unless the student had experienced a significant improvement in their skills and received relevant opportunities through the school’s network, they are less likely to recruit from their Alma matter. The ranking is skewed towards the established players. Emerging schools will take another 3-5 years to show any impact on the ranking.

Summary of Survey

Employer Survey (35% on Total Score):
Invited 16,984 recruiters; 1,461 recruiters at 672 firms completed the survey; response rate 8.6%

Alumni Survey (30% of Total Score):
Used 12,773 survey responses from alumni, at 29.43% response rate. A minimum response rate of 16% from the class of 2007-09 was required to be featured in the Business School ranking.

Student Survey (15% of Total Score): Used 9,119 survey responses from the class of 2015 with a response rate of  54.12%. A minimum response rate of 33% was required to be featured in the ranking.

With just 8.6% response rate, we wouldn’t bet on the Employer rating that contributes 35% towards the ranking. The Alumni & Student Feedback along with the salary rank gives a better picture of the Business School ranking. Job placement rank is a flawed indicator of the effectiveness of the school. 90% placement is no way a guarantee that the MBA candidates have chosen the post-MBA path.

To see our consolidated ranking based on BusinessWeek survey data (excluding the Employer rating and Job Placement rank), scroll down. For BusinessWeek Top Business School ranking 2015 in its original form, click here.

On Alumni, Student and Salary RankingAverage Rank
1UC Berkeley (Haas)5
5UCLA Anderson8.33
6Duke Fuqua10
7Dartmouth (Tuck)11
8Rice (Jones)11.66
10Virginia (Darden)13.33
Top US SchoolsIndex Score
4MIT Sloan96.05
8Duke Fuqua94.07
9Berkeley Haas91.83
10Michigan Ross91.74
Top Non-US SchoolsIndex Score
1Western (Ivey)100
2London Business School99.1
6Oxford Said86.16
8Cambridge (Judge)82.5
10HEC Paris79.75