Experts recommend that you look at MBA rankings before choosing a school, but many students don’t understand how those rankings work. When looking at a new school, you might find that its general MBA program ranks as one of the top 100 programs in the country, while its entrepreneurship program ranks in the top 10. Learning more about what those rankings mean and which organizations rank those programs can help you decide how much those rankings really mean in the greater scheme of things.
What is a Ranking?
The ranking of an MBA program refers to how good that school is in relation to all the other programs in the country. The way that organizations rank schools varies based on the criteria used by that organization. Some groups rank schools higher because those institutions have a higher graduation rate and a higher job placement rate among among graduates, while other organizations base rankings on the acceptance rate of the program and its professors. Some rankings also list schools based on how well those schools work for students of different types or backgrounds.
Who Ranks MBA Programs?
According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, there are four major groups that issue MBA rankings. U.S. News & World Report is one of the largest and most important of those groups. It takes into account the way that former students feel about the program, what high school guidance counselors think and how selective the school is with its admissions. Forbes focuses more on the financial side of things and ranks schools based on the average income reported by graduates, the debt that former students have and the satisfaction of students. Newsweek issues rankings based on how different types of students will fit into those MBA programs, while The Princeton Review uses more than 60 different types of rankings, including how those schools rank academically.
Is a Ranking Really Important?
Students often look at the ranking of a school when choosing an MBA program, but ranking is just one factor. Those in charge of college rankings use a number of different facts to determine where the school ranks on its list, and those facts might not matter to you. Before judging a school based solely on its ranking, think about what matters to you.
Other Things to Consider
When looking at MBA rankings, make a list of the factors that mean something to you. Do you want a school that will let you spend a summer studying in France or working for an international company? Do you need a flexible program that will let you take a semester off to spend with your family? Maybe you want a program designed for executives that offers classes at night and on weekends. You might even find yourself looking for a program with a concentration in accounting, finance or entrepreneurship. Those factors are just as important as the ranking of the school, and if you base your decision just on its ranking, you might miss out on the right program for you.
Several groups and organizations rank MBA programs on a series of different factors, but you shouldn’t look just as that ranking. The professors working in that program, the organizations and activities offered on campus and the flexibility of the program is just as important as the MBA rankings of that program.
For more information on earning your MBA degree, please see The 20 Most Affordable Top-Ranked Business Schools and MBA Programs.