MBA rankings on pause: What prospective applicants should know

SOURCE: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP
Some MBA rankings are being suspended this year, so you'll need to look at other factors when making your decision to apply. Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

By U2B Staff 

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In mid-April, leaders from the Graduation Management Admission Council (GMAC), as well as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), called for MBA rankings to be halted this year due to disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three industry bodies and organisations sent a letter to top MBA and business schools ranking providers such as Financial Times, U.S. News, the Economist, Forbes, and Bloomberg requesting a collaborative discussion with business school rankings organisations, highlighting how the current situation alters key metrics that rankings providers rely on to produce their respective data sets.


Bloomberg Businessweek announced it will be suspending their 2020 MBA rankings altogether, citing reasons such as respecting the wishes of industry bodies and business schools, avoiding increasing the workload of business school staff (who are required to fill out lengthy surveys for data compilation purposes), and that data collected will be severely impacted by the pandemic and won’t show the true differences between business schools.

Bloomberg News Senior Editor Caleb Solomon wrote in an email to business schools, “AACSB, GMAC, MBA CSEA and many schools asked us to delay, cancel or alter this year’s ranking.

“Asking students, alumni and recruiters to take a rankings survey in this environment felt inappropriate, we were told. Staff workloads were already stressed. Data collected could be overwhelmed by the pandemic and not really show differences among schools. While schools in good faith launched our rankings surveys this month, some are finding it difficult to achieve survey completion thresholds because of Covid-19.”

Other ranking providers such as Forbes, The Economist and U.S News have not yet announced if they will be suspending or postponing their rankings for next year  -which will take this year’s data into consideration.

So what can prospective applicants looking to apply for an MBA programme in the 2020-2021 academic year do?

While rankings should be part of your research as a prospective MBA applicant, it’s not the only factor to consider when it comes to deciding on which programme is best for you.

Here are some other ways you can make your decision,  especially during these unprecedented times.

Find out how they have adapted to the crisis

How did business schools carry out their MBA programmes and maintain the quality of these programmes when everything went online?

The answers to this should be an important factor when basing your decision, as MBA programmes might not fully return to face-to-face learning anytime soon, and will focus more on their online learning platforms. 

If you’ve previously not considered an online learning option, you may be forced to reconsider your options in light of the current pandemic. In that case, you should look at online MBA programmes or find out how universities are adapting their in-person classes to online delivery.

Look for alternative rankings

Not all rankings are being suspended, and you can check these out to help you make your decision.

For example, the QS Online MBA Rankings 2020 was recently released, revealing the top online MBA providers around the world based on indicators such as class profile, employability, faculty and teaching, and class experience. 

QS has also published the QS Global MBA Rankings 2020, which shows the best MBA programmes based on return on investment, entrepreneurship and alumni outcomes, diversity, employability and thought leadership.

There is no word yet if The Economist or Financial Times will release their rankings based on this year’s data or postpone them – normally released in November for the former and January for the latter.

However, you can refer to the Financial Times’ Global MBA ranking 2020 list which was released in January 2020, which shows the top 100 business schools around the world.  

Attend virtual open days

Although you can’t physically attend a campus due to campus closures and lockdowns, you can still speak to programme directors and faculty members to help you decide on which MBA programme is right for you.

Take advantage of virtual open days or webinars to find out if the programme aligns with your career goals and if you can handle the workload.