The Economist’s 2009 MBA Ranking

by John A. Byrne on

This is The Economist’s eighth annual ranking of full-time MBA programs. The ranking, published in mid-October of every year, is based 20% on student and alumni surveys and 80% on data provided by the schools. There are some incredibly peculiar results in this ranking, which raise significant credibility issues. Pretty much no one in business education would agree that IESE is the best business school in the world or that Berkeley is better than Harvard, Dartmouth or Stanford. Or consider The Economist’s ranking for the University of California at Los Angeles. The Economist ranks this school 50th behind Boston University, University of Texas at Austin, and Georgetown University. Yet, BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report rank UCLA’s business school at 14th and the Financial Times puts it at 33.

The Economist ranks Spain’s IESE as the best business school in the world.

As peculiar as those results are, there are even six schools in The Economist’s top 50 that are not even ranked anywhere else. The highly-regarded Spanish business school, ESADE, is ranked below Belgium’s Vierick Leuven Gent, the Henley Business School in England, and Mannheim Business School in Germany even those these schools don’t even appear on the radar screens of The Financial Times, Forbes, or BusinessWeek. Bottom line: This is probably the most flawed, if not silly, of all the MBA rankings cranked out by a major media brand.

Pro: Takes a global perspective on business school education, ranking 100 business schools in all.

Con: The odd results of this ranking raise meaningful credibility issues with the methodology and the accuracy of the data some of these schools are providing to The Economist. Because 80% of the ranking is based on unaudited information from business schools, there’s a high likelihood that some data has been fudged. The Economist also throws into its ranking formula criteria that has little to do with the quality of education, such as the percentages of international and female students (giving these two questions alone nearly a 17% of the weight in the ranking), the range of overseas exchange programs (a 6.25% weight), and the number of languages offered (also given a 6.25% weight). That latter metric would be something more appropriate to an evaluation of undergraduate education. The former measurements are more “politically correct” than they are accurate indicators of quality.

How does the The Economist survey compare against the other major rankings? We show you below starting with a comparison to our own survey, then BusinessWeek, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and finally The Financial Times. Because Poets&Quants, BusinessWeek, and Forbes separately report the best non-U.S. schools, we show their rankings of these schools with an asterisk.

Economist Rank & School P&Q BW Forbes U.S. News FT
1.  IESE (Spain) 2* 9* 3** NA 11
2.  IMD (Switzerland) 3* 7* 2* NA 15
3.  California-Berkeley (Haas) 9 10 12 7 28
4.  Chicago (Booth) 3* 1 4 5 7
5.  Harvard Business School 1 2 3 1 3
6.  Dartmouth College (Tuck) 5 12 2 7 14
7.  Stanford University 2 6 1 1 4
8.  London Business School 1* 5* 1** NA 1
9.  Pennsylvania (Wharton) 4 4 5 5 2
10. Vierick Leuven (Belgium) NR NR NR NA NR
11. Cambridge Univ. (Judge) 6 ST* 4* NA 21
12. York Univ. (Schulich) 11 ST* 6** NA 54
13. New York University (Stern) 10 13 17 9 13
14. HEC Paris 7 ST* 7* NA 14
15. Northwestern (Kellogg) 7 3 8 4 22
16. IE Business School 4* 2* 3* NA 6
17. Univ. of Melbourne NR NR NR NA 63
18. Cranfield 9* ST* 9* NA 18
19. MIT (Sloan) 8 9 14 3 8
20. Columbia Business School 6 7 6 9 6
21. Henley Business School NR NR NR NA NR
22. Warwick Business School 26* NR NR NA 42
23. INSEAD 5* 3* 1* NA 5
24. Univ. of Virginia (Darden) 13 16 9* 13 31
25. Univ. of Michigan (Ross) 12 5 18 12 28
26. Mannheim Business School NR NR NR NA NR
27. Yale School of Management 15 24 10 11 16
28. Duke Univ. (Fuqua) 11 8 13 14 20
29. ESADE Business School 8* 6* 8** NA 19
30. Hong Kong – UST 16* NR NR NA 9
31. Univ. of Washington (Foster) 28 27 40 33 78
32. Cornell (Johnson) 14 11 7 18 36
33. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 17 19 23 16 34
34. Notre Dame (Mendoza) 25 20 38 31 71
35. Ashridge NR NR NR NA NR
36. Southern Calif. (Marshall) 23 25 32 20 57
37. Dublin (Smurfit) NR NR NR NA 98
38. Univ. of Hong Kong NR NR NR NA NR
39. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) 18 17 15 21 46
40. Boston University 40 ST 61 31 61
41. Rotterdam (Erasmus) 27* NR NR NA 36
42. Int’l University of Monaco NR NR NR NA NR
43. Rice University (Jones) 46 NR 47 39 44
44. Hult Int’t Business School NR NR NR NA 97
45. Ohio State (Fisher) 34 ST 39 21 67
46. Indiana Univ. (Kelley) 20 15 25 23 57
47. Oxford University (Said) 10* 10* 5* NA 16
48. Georgetown (McDonough) 24 ST 31 24 38
49. Texas-Austin (McCombs) 19 21 11 16 52
50. UCLA (Anderson) 16 14 19 15 33

Footnotes:

  • Indicates ranking on a separate non-U.S. list of best B-schools so the ranking may not be directly comparable to The Economist and The Financial Times’ lists.

** Forbes creates separate rankings for non-U.S. schools that offer one-year MBA programs versus two-year MBA programs. A double asterisk in the Forbes’ column signifies its two-year program rating; a single asterisk indicates its one-year ranking.

ST Indicates a school was named a “second-tier” school by BusinessWeek, a small set of schools the publication doesn’t rank but identifies due to its well-regarded reputation.

NR Indicates not-ranked by the publication.

Source: The Economist, 2009 full-time ranking

  • TDogg

    Unc higher ranked than Georgetown??? Uh, I don’t think so.

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