BusinessWeek Business School Rankings

We applaud BusinessWeek for keeping their rankings weighted towards recent events and compiling a rather extensive questionnaire on tens of thousands of students. We certainly like the weighting placed on the schools’ attentiveness to their students’ and recruiters’ needs. These certainly help to keep the schools competitive and have undoubtedly helped contribute to some of the schools’ innovations. It is very refreshing to see that schools can not sit back on their laurels and maintain a high ranking based on past performances and reputations.

The rankings contain a good bit of subjectivity, but they are after all rankings, and we are not convinced that such an inherently subjective task can be optimally accomplished without any such judgments.

Most glaring errors

The problem with BusinessWeek’s rankings is that they can give too much weight to subjective data from a small group of respondents.

In 2000, for example, BusinessWeek ranked Stanford at #11. At that time, we stated the following:

Despite the defense given to Stanford’s ranking (#11), we do believe that the school was unduly dinged for a lack of student satisfaction and alleged recruiter mistreatment. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is among the two most selective business schools (Harvard is the other) and its academic curriculum, even if a bit inflexible, is resolutely solid. We fully expect the new dean, Robert Joss, to quickly right the boat and have Stanford in BusinessWeek’s top 5 in 2002.

It sure did feel good to be proven right in 2002 — and in the years since then!  🙂

More recently (cue your “since the wheel has been invented jokes”), the most glaring error has been ranking Harvard Business School number 4. Find us one semi-scientific poll that concludes MBA applicants would prefer any business school not named Stanford over HBS.

U.S. News and World Report Business School Rankings

We really, really, like the objectivity and transparency of these rankings. There is no way for a school to be unfairly bashed on a subjective factor. Unfortunately, our biggest fault with their ranking is the lack of subjective judgment factors. (Yes, we are very tough to please.)

Most glaring error

It’s almost a bit “nit picky,” as we have covered a lot of schools and US News is mostly right on. Nonetheless, ranking Michigan Ross at 14 and Maryland Smith all the way down at 44 was a bit befuddling to us. Michigan is certainly a top 10 destination choice of applicants we’ve spoken to (and, for the record, we believe deservedly so) and Maryland has made tremendous improvements to their MBA program. They are sitting in a great location and has made a big commitment to the promising high tech sector.

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