MBA rankings are now published in their droves. From the Financial Times to The Economist, it can be difficult to know which ranking to consider, and the difference between each one. Most MBA candidates are pursuing the degree to advance their career prospects, in terms of boosting their salary or getting a better job. So, isolating the data to focus on which MBA programs recruiters rate the highest, can be effective for working out which degrees will get you where you want to go.
The Bloomberg Businessweek list of best business schools for 2017 was published this month. The ranking is based on surveys of recruiters, alumni, and students, as well as recent graduates’ success at landing jobs and fat pay cheques. Harvard Business School, Wharton School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management came up trumps in the 2017 ranking. Bloomberg also breaks the ranking down by factors including employers, alumni, current students, job placement and salary. For career outcomes, the list of the top schools looks different (see chart below).
For example, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is ranked fifth overall but is rated as only the twentieth best business school by the companies which employ its graduates. Bloomberg asked 686 recruiters to identify up to 10 schools they regularly recruited from, and then asked them to rate these schools’ graduates on specific qualities they deem important in MBA hires.
The water is muddied further when Bloomberg ranks schools based on salary (chart below). Duke’s Fuqua School of Business is regarded as the sixth best business school under all metrics, but is down in eleventh for the salaries its MBA students earn upon graduation.
It’s important to consider which industries and companies you want to work for, which will not be broken down by Bloomberg’s rankings, which provide an overall employment score. Certain schools have more success placing MBAs into specific places. For instance, at INSEAD, nearly half of the most recent MBA cohort landed jobs in management consulting. The MBA program with the largest contingent of recent graduates hired by Amazon, the technology giant, is the Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, it claims.
Those going to the highest-ranked overall schools will still land a decent job and a big salary. At Harvard, 100% of last year’s MBA cohort were employed within three months of graduating, with $135,000 median base salaries to boot. But prospective applicants should look beyond the headline rank when deciding which schools to apply to. A more tailored evaluation may lead to a better outcome.