Here’s what you should know about MBA rankings

MBA rankings are held in high regards, but what exactly do they measure?

By U2B Staff 

Read all stories

If you’re planning to attend a business school, you’ll know that MBA rankings are held in high regard by many. 

Apart from the prestige associated with graduating from a high-ranking business school, there are many other perks including receiving a world-class education from top professionals in the field to networking opportunities that can help with your career.

But what exactly goes into MBA rankings? Each has a different methodology, so the answer varies.


Decoding MBA rankings

Many factors affect MBA rankings, including the career outcomes of graduates, alumni surveys, hands-on experiences during the programme, accreditations for business schools like the AACSB and EQUIS, to name a few. 

Here are what some mainstream MBA rankings have to say about their methodology:

QS World University Rankings Global MBA Rankings 2021

According to their methodology, to be included in the Global MBA Rankings 2021, the programme must be taught mainly on-campus (ie. not distance-learning), be taught full-time (or be full-time equivalent), and have an average class size of at least 15 students. 

“All schools must be accredited by either AACSB, AMBA, EFMD (EQUIS). We also require schools to provide us with relevant data in the majority of indicators to be included,” it said.

“A total of 13 criteria form the basis of five key indicators that programs were ranked on: ‘employability’, ‘entrepreneurship and alumni outcomes’, ‘return on investment’, ‘thought leadership’ and ‘class & faculty diversity’.”

Of this, employability accounts for 40%, entrepreneurship, and alumni outcomes account for 15%, and 20%, 15%, and 10% respectively for students’ 10-year return on investment (ROI), thought leadership (eg. academic reputation, research impact, etc.) and class and faculty diversity.

FT Global MBA ranking 2021

FT’s entry criteria include that all participating schools must be accredited by Equis or the AACSB. They survey alumni three years after completing their MBA. 

“For schools to enter the ranking calculations, the FT requires that a minimum of 20% of alumni reply to the survey, with at least 20 fully completed surveys,” it said.

“This year only, because of disruption from the COVID-19 crisis, the FT considered schools with a lower response rate. About 6,570 from the class of 2017 completed our survey — a response rate of 44%.” 

FT takes into account numerous things including alumni responses, school data, average income three years after graduation and salary increase compared with pre-MBA salary; “value for money” for each school, diversity of school and students, the school’s research, to name a few.

The Economist 2021 MBA Ranking

The Economist collected data through two surveys — the first was completed by schools with eligible programmes and covers quantitative matters such as the salary of graduates, the average GMAT scores of students, and the number of registered alumni. 

The Economist notes that this accounts for around 80% of the ranking. The remaining 20% comes from a qualitative survey filled out by current MBA students and a school’s most recent graduating MBA class, it said.

Respondents were asked to rate things such as the quality of the faculty, facilities, and career services department, and provide details of their salary.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that each MBA ranking employs different methodologies, so be clear about what matters before picking a business school.