Analysis: 2015-16 The Economist Full-time MBA Ranking

The Economist MBA Rankings AnalysisIt is official – “Booth is the new Harvard.” For the fourth consecutive year, Chicago Booth ranks #1 for The Economist 2015-16 Full-time MBA rankings. Darden took the #2 spot pushing Tuck to #3. Harvard is at #4, and HEC Paris is at #5. No matter how much noise you hear about the ranking methodology, no single ranking is perfect. Students tend to rely heavily on one ranking data: FT, The Economist, BusinessWeek, or US News (for US Schools). They are useful predictors, but calculating return on investments requires detailed analysis, taking into consideration, your financial position and short-term goals, and the quality and relevance of the program.

Despite what critics complain, the fluctuation in ranking is not the result of considering just one-year’s data. In fact, the Economist takes the weighted average of the last three years: 2014 (50%), 2013 (30%) and 2012 (20%). When schools fail to provide at least two consecutive year’s data, they are not considered for the ranking. That is why, you will see renowned programs like CEIBS, UC Davis and Aston missing from the ranking. Other top schools like Imperial College Business School and Rotman chose not to participate. For brand value, averaging the three rankings (The Economist, FT and BusinessWeek) will give you a better summary of where each school stands in the eyes of the recruiters and alumni – two influencers that determine the brand value of the program. Read our review of the ranking methodology used by The Economist.

What we like about the ranking is the 35% weightage given to career opportunities and 20% on increase in salary. That is 55% on whether the school can facilitate you to choose from a diverse pool of recruiters in emerging and established industries, in lucrative job functions, mapped to the skills that you developed in the MBA program. Networking opportunities vary from student to student. Even, top schools dispel the myth that just by being part of the school; you are guaranteed to get a $130,000 job offer. Candidates are expected to network aggressively.

Most students, accepts this answer, and return to their MBA application process without double-checking the role of the career service team. Ask at least 3-4 questions about the school’s career service team even if the school representatives feels uncomfortable. Don’t fall for the glossy marketing brochures about placements. Choosing a pro-active student with good communication skills is enough to maintain the 80-90% jobs found within the 3-month record.

The effective career service team networks and attracts recruiters from diverse regions and industries. They are attuned to the changing landscape of the global economy. If all that the school does is keep the current contacts in Banking, Consulting, Technology and Non-Profit (for the internships), soon MBAs will find themselves in precarious situations in spite of investing over $100,000 in a top MBA. The Economist ranking takes care of this factor brilliantly with the Career Opportunities (35%) survey. 8.75% is assigned to the diversity of the recruiters, 8.75% on the percentage work within 3-months, 8.75% on the percentage jobs found through career service team and 8.75% on the feedback that students give about the career service team. In short, 17.5% of the ranking score depends on the student’s feedback about the career service team, a factor that should always be the #2 factor while choosing one school over the other, second to the ROI. This is perhaps one reason why the top performing programs in other ranking publication (Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton) have never been featured in the top 3 list of the Economist MBA rankings. The brand is expected to pull in recruiters, but the reality is that rising stars have started challenging the position of the traditional behemoths. Applicants have to understand this reality and dissect the ranking factors more closely, especially the Return on Investment from an investment (short-term) and a brand (long-term) perspective. Let us know if you need assistance.

The four ranking factors considered by the Economist are Career Opportunities (35%), personal development/educational experience (35%), increase in salary (20%) and potential to network (10%).

Here are the Top 10 Full-time MBA programs according to The Economist Full-time MBA Ranking 2015-16. Visit the Which MBA Ranking page for complete ranking.

RankPrevious RankFull-time MBA Programs
11Booth School of Business
23Darden School of Business
32Tuck School of Business
46Harvard Business School
54HEC Paris
67Haas School of Business
714Kellogg School of Management
913UCLA Anderson School of Management
1011Wharton School University of Pennsylvania

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