The Economist’s 2010 MBA Ranking

Besides the global rankings done annually by The Economist, the British magazine also publishes separate lists for the best schools in North America, Europe, and Asia. How does the latest 2010 ranking compare with Poets&Quants’ assessments?

There are some wide differences of opinion. First off, it’s important to note that the Poets&Quants ranking is based on a weighted blending of the five most influential and regularly published MBA rankings–BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report, The Financial Times, The Economist, and Forbes.

The big differences? At the very top, Harvard and Stanford are number one and two in the P&Q ranking. The Economist improbably ranks Harvard fourth in the world and fourth in North America behind Chicago, Dartmouth and Berkeley. It ranks Stanford seventh in the world, behind IESE in Spain and IMD in Switzerland, and fifth in North America. There are greater disparities, however, up and down The Economist’s North American list of 57 schools.

The magazine ranks the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business 13th, ahead of Yale, Michigan and Duke, versus the P&Q rank for USC’s business school of 23. The University of Washington’s Foster School fares well by The Economist which ranks it 19th versus a 28th place showing in the Poets&Quants list. Rice University’s Jesse Jones School gets a highly favorable ranking of 26th among North American schools, while it is ranked 46th by P&Q. Penn State’s Smeal School of Business comes it with a 33rd showing, ten places higher than Poets&Quants.

What’s behind the differences? Methodology. What a publication chooses to measure and how much weight it places on various metrics largely determine the outcome of all these rankings. The Economist puts 35% of the weight on what it calls “open new career opportunities,” a category that includes such things as percentage of graduates in jobs within three months of graduation as well as the diversity of corporate recruiters who come to campus. Another 35% weight is applied to “personal development/educational experience,” which includes among other things average GMAT scores of incoming students, number of languages on offer and the range of overseas exchange programs. Some 20% of the ranking is based on starting salaries and the increase in pay from pre-MBA compensation. Finally, 10% is based on metrics that take into account how international the alumni are and what graduates think of the school’s alumni network.

Here’s a comparison chart that shows the top 35 North American schools according to The Economist and how the ranking compares with the PoetsandQuants analysis. An asterisk indicates a rank of a school in our non-U.S. ranking.

2010 Economist Rank and SchoolPoets&Quants Rank
1.   Chicago (Booth)3
2.   Dartmouth (Tuck)5
3.   Berkeley (Haas)9
4.   Harvard Business School1
5.   Stanford GSB2
6.   Pennsylvania (Wharton)4
7.   York University (Schulich)11*
8.   Virginia (Darden)13
9.   Columbia Business School6
10. MIT (Sloan)8
11. New York University (Stern)10
12. Northwestern (Kellogg)7
13. Southern California (Marshall)23
14. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)17
15. Yale School of Management15
16. Michigan (Ross)12
17. Hult International SchoolNR
18. Duke University (Fuqua)11
19. University of Washington (Foster)28
20. Cornell (Johnson)14
21. Indiana University (Kelley)20
22. Emory (Goizueta)21
23. UCLA (Anderson)16
24. Notre Dame (Mendoza)25
25. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)18
26. Rice University (Jones)46
27. Boston University School of Mgt.40
28. Texas-Austin (McCombs)19
29. Washington University (Olin)26
30. Vanderbilt (Owen)30
31. Georgetown (McDonough)24
32. Wisconsin School of Busiess39
33. Penn State (Smeal)43
34. Wake Forest45
35. California-DavisNR