Ranking publications are a widely used source of information among prospective graduate business school students. Rankings are appealing because they provide some level of clarity and order in a marketplace that is highly complex. They curate diverse data points from a variety of sources into a simple, easily comparable measure of overall quality.
The inherent issue is that quality is highly subjective and there is no universally agreed upon way to measure it.
For that reason, multiple rankings have emerged for graduate business programs, each with its own methodology that draws upon a different mix of data indicators and weights. As a result, different publications rank schools differently. What’s more, rankings are volatile year over year, often for reasons having little to do with a change in the quality of education being provided to students. Frequently, the net result of the existence of multiple rankings is not less confusion among applicants, but more.
The purpose of this resource is to clearly lay out what goes into the methodologies of the five major business school rankings, identify aspects of each that make them distinctive, and compile other useful ranking information in one place.
Each ranking publication uses its own unique methodology to assign weights to various data indicators. The greater the weight, the greater influence it has on determining a school’s ranking.
This table, divided into 14 weighting categories, shows how each of the methodologies differ in terms of which categories carry more weight in the overall ranking. Comparing methodologies this way reveals each publication’s distinctive emphasis — the weighting category or categories that most differentiate a methodology from the others. What makes a weighting category distinctive is that no more than one other ranking publication uses it, and if another publication does use it, they assign it less than half as much weight.
|Weighting Category||Bloomberg||Economist||Financial Times||Forbes||USNWR|
|Business school leader opinion||25%|
|Career services rating||14%||2%|
|Return on investment||3%||100%|
|Student/recent graduate opinion||15%||6.125%|