Chicago Again Tops BW’s New 2010 Ranking, With Harvard No. 2

by John A. Byrne on

Chicago's Booth School of Business

Chicago's Booth School of Business

For the third consecutive time, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business ranked first in the most influential of all the MBA rankings by Businessweek released today (Nov. 11, 2010). The 2010 survey, the 12th biennial ranking of full-time MBA programs in the U.S. by the magazine over the past 24 years, ranked Harvard second and Wharton third.

On a separate international list, INSEAD climbed into the number one spot among non-U.S. school, up from its second-place finish in 2008. INSEAD was followed by Queens University, which slipped from its number one perch two years earlier, and IE Business School in Spain was ranked the third best non-U.S. business school in the world. It was the third time that INSEAD won the number one ranking for BusinessWeek’s list of the best international schools. INSEAD won in 2002 and 2000, the first year that BW began ranking non-U.S. schools. There were two newcomers this year to the top ten on the No. 9 York University’s Schulich School of Business and No.10 University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School.

Northwestern’s Kellogg School, which has more number one rankings (five) than any other school in the BusinessWeek U.S. survey, fell one spot this year to fourth, its weakest showing ever. Stanford rounded out the top five schools.

There were four new U.S. schools which made their way into the top 30 list of best U.S. schools (and four schools that fell into the magazine’s second-tier). The top 30 newcomers were No. 20 Michigan State’s Broad School of Business, which had been deemed one of 15 second-tier schools by BusinessWeek, two years ago; No. 28 University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business, also a second-tier school in 2008; and two previously unranked schools, No. 29 Rice University’s Jones School of Business and No. 30 Texas A&M University”s Mays School.

The four schools that fell out of the magazine’s top 30 were Washington University’s Olin School of Business, which last time was ranked 28th and had been in the top list in seven previous BW surveys. The Olin School fell to a rank of 40. Also dropping off the list was the University of Maryland, which was ranked 26th two years ago and had been in the BW top 30 for the previous six surveys. It dropped to a rank of 42 this time around. Vanderbilt University’s business school, which was No. 30 on the list in 2008 and had been on the previous four top 30 surveys, fell to 37th. And finally, the University of Washington, which had been ranked 27th last time, dropped to a rank of 31. Instead of falling into an unranked “second tier” as these schools would have in the past, BusinessWeek for the first time has assigned ranks to more schools, increasing the total number of ranked institutions to 75 from 40.

Chicago’s staying power as the number one B-school powerhouse for the third time in a row now makes it the third most successful school in the history of BusinessWeek’s ranking which debuted in 1988. Its emergence is widely attributed to the leadership of a now departed dean, Ted Snyder, who will become dean of Yale’s School of Management next year. The ultimate test of Chicago as the best business school in the U.S. will occur in the next BusinessWeek survey under Sunil Kumar, a newly recruited dean from Stanford University’s faculty. Synder was a master at working the school’s key stakeholders, from students and alumni to corporate recruiters and benefactors. He even located the dean’s office next to a private lounge for visiting corporate recruiters. Wharton has been the number one winner on four occasions since 1988, while Kellogg was won that honor a record five times.

Unlike most other rankings, the BusinessWeek survey is not based on GMAT or GPA scores, selectivity of applicants, or starting compensation of new grads or the number of MBAs who have jobs within three months of graduation. Instead, the BW survey is largely a customer satisfaction poll. BW surveys the latest graduating class from each of the top schools, along with the companies that essentially make the MBA market and recruit the vast majority of graduates. A third component, purporting to measure faculty research, accounts for 10 percent of the methodology (see analysis of BW’s intellectual capital ranking).

BusinessWeek said its response rate for the 2010 MBA survey was 55%, with 9,827 of 17,941 graduates responding, while its response rate on the corporate recruiter survey was 42%, with 215 of 514 companies responding. One trick that BusinessWeek applies to its methodology is to count the 2010 graduate survey for just half of the MBA customer satisfaction weight. It also tosses in the previous two surveys to MBA grads from 2008 and 2006, weighted equally at 25% each, which tends to prevent wild swings in the rankings.

One significant flaw in the way BusinessWeek reports its ranking is that the magazine fails to report overall index numbers for its ranked schools so users are unable to determine whether there are meaningful statistical differences between the rank one school gets over another. In many cases, it’s possible that the differences in the underlying scores are so small that they have no statistical significance. Unlike some surveys, BW does not allow a tie for any ranked schools.

The heavy emphasis on corporate recruiters in the survey tends to disadvantage schools with smaller enrollments, such as Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, because recruiters are less likely to be highly satisfied at schools that have few graduates to employ. The result: fewer recruiters go to such schools and those that do often leave empty handed. That’s most likely why the highly regarded Tuck School, ranked fifth by Poets&Quants and second by The Economist, is ranked 14th by BusinessWeek–even below the business schools at such public universities as Michigan, Berkeley, and Virginia. Shockingly, BusinessWeek now ranks Southern Methodist University’s Cox School at No. 12, two places above Tuck. BW also ranks Stanford number five, lower than the Poets&Quants No. 2 ranking for the school, and below rankings by U.S. News, Forbes, and the Financial Times. Only The Economist ranks Stanford lower than BW (see table below).

HOW THE 2010 BUSINESSWEEK RANKING COMPARES

2010 BW Rank & School P&Q Forbes U.S. News FT Economist
1. Chicago (Booth) 3 4 5 7 1
2. Harvard 1 3 1 3 4
3. Wharton 4 5 5 2 8
4. Northwestern 7 8 4 22 16
5. Stanford 2 1 1 4 7
6. Duke (Fuqua) 11 13 14 20 28
7. Michigan (Ross) 12 18 12 28 25
8. Berkeley (Haas) 9 12 7 28 3
9. Columbia 6 6 9 6 12
10. MIT (Sloan) 8 14 3 8 13
11. Virginia (Darden) 13 9 13 31 11
12. SMU (Cox) 29 33 49 96 78
13. Cornell (Johnson) 14 7 18 36 33
14. Dartmouth (Tuck) 5 2 7 14 2
15. Carnegie Mellon 17 23 16 34 21
16. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) 18 15 21 46 40
17. UCLA (Anderson) 16 19 15 33 37
18. NYU (Stern) 10 17 9 13 14
19. Indiana (Kelley) 20 25 23 57 35
20. Michigan State 35 21 46 65 NR
21. Yale 15 10 11 16 24
22. Emory (Goizueta) 21 22 27 34 36
23. Ga. Institute of Tech 32 44 26 NR NR
24. Notre Dame 25 38 31 71 39
25. Texas-Austin 19 11 16 52 43
26. USC (Marshall) 23 32 20 57 18
27. Brigham Young 22 16 33 83 NR
28. Minnesota (Carlson) 31 26 24 75 63
29. Rice (Jones) 46 47 39 44 41
30. Texas A&M (Mays) 37 27 79 NR NR

Source: BusinessWeek 2010 ranking of top 30 U.S. B-schools

Notes: The Financial Times and The Economist publish global rankings so the rank for each of the schools in the table reflects a larger number of schools

BusinessWeek reported that even at the top schools in its survey, it has become increasing difficult to find jobs. “More than 40 percent of B-school career services officers saw a decline in on-campus visits this spring,” reported the magazine, citing statistics the MBA Career Services Council. “And when companies do come to campus, instead of having a dozen positions to fill, they might have two or three. Starting salaries among all MBAs surveyed by Bloomberg Businessweek have dropped nearly 6 percent, from an average of $104,500 in 2008 to $98,400 this year. And students’ plans are changing, with many settling for lesser positions. More than half of those surveyed expressed concern about the job market.”

To maintain it’s number one position, Chicago took the economic downturn seriously. According to BusinessWeek, the school tripled the size of its employer outreach team from two to six in the past two years. Last summer the team met with more than 350 companies, up from 100 in 2007. “We definitely have more corporate relationships now than we did a few years ago,” Julie Morton, associate dean of career services, told BusinessWeek. “We used to assume the relationship began when a company recruited on campus. Now a strong relationship is one where a firm thinks of Booth in terms of sourcing talent–posting a job, coming to campus, or simply interacting with students.”

Besides the four business schools which dropped out of the top 30, other big losers in the 2010 ranking by BusinessWeek included New York University’s Stern School of Business and Brigham Young University’s Marriott School. Both institutions dropped five full places: NYU to 18 from 13 in 2008, and BYU to 27 from 22. The drop for the Stern School nows put it nine places against its New York City rival, Columbia University, which placed ninth, a drop of two places from its seventh-ranked post in 2008.

BIGGEST LOSERS IN THE 2010 BUSINESSWEEK RANKING

School Difference in Ranks 2010 Rank 2008 Rank
University of Maryland -16 42 26
Washington University (Olin) -12 40 28
Vanderbilt University -7 37 30
New York University (Stern) -5 18 13
Brigham Young -5 27 22
University of Washington -4 31 27
Texas-Austin (McCoombs) -4 25 21
Indiana (Kelley) -4 19 15
Notre Dame (Mendoza) -4 24 20
UCLA (Anderson) -3 17 14

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Source: BusinessWeek 2010 ranking of Best B-schools

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Besides the four new schools that cracked the top 30 list this year, other big winners in BW’s 2010 ranking included the business schools at Southern Methodist University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Those schools both jumped six places. SMU’s Cox School moved to 12th from 18th in 2008, while the Georgia Institute rose to 23 from 29th in the last BW ranking.

BIGGEST YEAR-OVER-YEAR WINNERS IN THE 2010 BUSINESSWEEK RANKING

School Difference in Ranks 2010 Rank 2008 Rank
Michigan State (Broad) Won top 30 status 20 ST*
Minnesota (Carlson) Won top 30 status 28 ST*
Rice University (Jones) Won top 30 status 29 Unranked
Texas A&M (Mays) Won top 30 status 30 Unranked
SMU (Cox) +6 12 18
Georgia Institute of Tech +6 23 29
Virginia (Darden) +5 11 16
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) +4 15 19
Yale University +3 21 24

Source: BusinessWeek 2010 ranking of Best B-Schools

ST — Second-tier school among 15 identified by BusinessWeek


  • Tirantet

    Definitely, this is the worst of the well-known MBA rankings. It’s hard to understand why BusinessWeek considers the SMU’s Cox School MBA, with an average GMAT of 640, a mean salary base equals to $80,000 and only 44% of the class receiving first job offer by graduation, better than Dartmouth College’s Tuck MBA,with an average GMAT of 716, a mean salary base of $106,578.00 and 90% of the class receiving first job offer by graduation. Could someone explain this to me?

  • Lim,

    Tirantet,

    I too am skeptical towards the applied methodology but as has been mentioned, the BusinessWeek survey is not based on GMAT or GPA scores, selectivity of applicants, or starting compensation of new grads or the number of MBAs who have jobs within three months of graduation.

  • Michael

    But if BW relies on “customer satisfaction” from the students and recruiters involved, why in the world is SMU receiving such a high score? Why would students be so thrilled with the school when 1/3 of graduates were jobless 3 months after graduation, while only 3% of Tuck students were in the same boat? If recruiters supposedly love the school, then why do their companies pay the SMU students so little in comparison, and leave so many without jobs? Something doesn’t compute here. The BW methodology might sound the best from a high level, but clearly in practice it misses the mark.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/andy84/ Andrew

    I agree. The fact that SMU is ranked so high and that Tuck is still ranked so low puts a ding in the credibility of this ranking. This makes me favor US News’ ranking a bit more that BW.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/micabevington/ Mica Bevington

    Let’s look a the ranking from another, relevant perspective: a financial one.

    Students are paying more than ever for a graduate business degree. Yet, to use the schools you reference, at SMU (Cox), they’re paying $17,000 LESS than they would by attending Dartmouth’s Tuck. Sure, these grads are earning less on the back end, but those with jobs do enjoy a similar salary jump as their counterparts at Tuck:

    SMU pre-mba salary average: $50,000… post MBA $81,000 (up 62%)
    Tuck pre-mba salary average: $64,400… post MBA $105,000 (63% rise)

    While the recruiters may pay less for a graduate of SMU, they obviously find value in Texas — solid MBAs who don’t request as hefty a paycheck as their counterparts at other schools. Perhaps these recruiters are shopping where they can get the most bang for their buck… and that’s an important thing to show any boss in this economy!

    Finally, let’s follow the argument that any MBA student should be in a program for the education they’ll receive and the experience they’ll have, rather than a hoped-for job at the other end. In that sense, satisfaction over two years is terribly important. It will have a lot to do with student services, quality of teaching, access to faculty, course materials… Remember that at larger schools, some of the prized faculty never step foot in an MBA class — indeed, some don’t want to! — preferring to work instead with seasoned executives, or perhaps on their next book. In those cases, it might be the rising stars (not always polished faculty) in front of the MBAs… that will impact your day-to-day experience… and if you’re paying more than $100,000 a year for the opportunity to study somewhere, you’re going to want it to be good from start to finish!

    In short, don’t underestimate the value of what these graduates have to say: they may be earning varied salaries, but they are all choosing from a relatively similar menu of MBA courses at their respective schools. Anyone who is after a solid MBA degree first, and a job second (no matter how long it may take to find it), may want to tune in before they sign any loan agreements!

    All the best,
    Mica

  • Tirantet

    Hi Mica,
    For a financial return study, I’d recommend to look at the Forbes ranking (http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/05/best-business-schools-09-leadership-careers_land.html). As you can notice, a Tuck MBA is by far a better investment for any student than SMU and some of the other BusinessWeek’s top ranked schools.

    Also, I agree with you. SMU might be a solid MBA regionally in Texas, but clearly it’s not a world-class business school as Tuck and Stanford, among others.

    Finally, as you also mentioned, let’s follow the argument that any MBA student should be in a program for the education they’ll receive and the experience they’ll have. Yet, to use the schools you reference, at Tuck the entire faculty body without exception teaches MBA courses. So, any student has access to world recognized professors such as Kevin Lane Keller, Richard D’Aveni, Ken French, Paul Argenti or Matt Slaughter. I cannot say the same for other schools.

    All the best,

    Tirantet

  • Michael

    @ Mica Bevington:

    At BYU, students pay $47k – $67k less than they would at SMU, and come out of the program making about $7,500 more than SMU students do. According to your argument, BYU should trump both SMU and Dartmouth for that matter, yet BW ranks BYU far behind both SMU and Tuck.

    A recruiter would be smart to get a good student from SMU instead of Tuck, if the hiring budget was the main concern. But is a recruiter saying he likes SMU because their students are cheap the same thing as a recruiter saying he likes a school because of the caliber of its students? These are different considerations entirely, but according to BW, liking a school is liking a school, regardless of the reason. This is a shortcoming in the methodology.

    I agree that the two-year MBA experience is important, but the return on investment cannot be ignored. The MBA experience should be considered holistically. If a program has a great two-year experience, but doesn’t provide jobs as well as its “peer” schools, then that program is lacking. If a program leads to some of the best MBA jobs out there, but doesn’t provide a two-year experience that is enriching or enjoyable, then that program is lacking as well. From what I am able to tell, SMU has great professors who are accessible. But the low post-MBA salaries and poor job placement statistics show me that the program is lacking.

    I’m not saying SMU is a bad school, but are we supposed to believe that it’s right there in the mix with Tuck, Darden, MIT, and Columbia? I’m not picking on SMU here, I’m just using it as the key example as to why BW’s methodology is clearly flawed.

  • Rohit

    I don’t understand how Georgetown is nowhere on this list. A survey which talks about recruiter opinions should consider the quality of organizations coming to campus. For example companies who go to SMU are completely different from those that go to Columbia or Tuck.

  • MATT

    The only thing that is not a laughing matter with respect to these rankings is that some poor prospective students might take them seriously. Let me know the next time Yale loses someone to Michigan St, because it will be the first. The SMU thing is so humorous it hardly even needs to be addressed. Did the administration lock those poor students in a cage and force them to fill out these surveys to their liking? Cox, while fine if you want to work in Dallas, isn’t even the 2nd best school in Texas (McCombs obviously, then Rice) and might not even be third (A&M?).

    As long as you don’t care about getting a job or what they’re going to pay you if you do, by all means, subscribe away.

  • varito

    I can understand why some morons think that just because you score over 700 in the GMAT you are smarter, even so you think that makes you special , this is ridiculous , I hate this rankings, that is why I never based my decision on this, instead I look for something other than brand like knowledge and learning experience. Let’s be honest. I learn more from a guy that spent 20 years in a firm and is doing an MBA part time , than a smart ass that just have 2 years of experience and in an MBA full time.

  • Bar

    This is definitely the worse b-school ranking ever. Tuck,, Cornell and Yale were outranked by SMU. They’re Ivy League b-schools, one of the world’s best. I think they need to revise their methodology. Peace Guys!

  • Lance Miller

    SMU is a joke of an institution from undergrad thru grad school. This ranking is worse than Cooley’s Ranking of law schools.

  • Reeta

    Let’s start with the acknowledgement that anyone who choses their MBA experience based solely or mostly on rankings in the first place is an idiot. No ranking is going to be able to tell you the right program for you and your career needs.

    Having said that, let’s be honest, this ranking is really just a customer satisfaction rating and should be taken as such. It’s one piece of data that should roll into a prospective student’s decision about an MBA program. Everyone’s bashing the ranking because SMU is ranked above Tuck, but let’s look at the Top 5. Is anyone arguing that these schools are among the top schools in the country? Nope. So the methodology isn’t perfect, but it does a fairly good job at doing what it set out to do…rank schools based on how satisfied students, alumni & recruiters are with the program.

    I’m not really surprised at how these rankings played out at all. I just graduated from Duke (#6) last week and I worked a lot with our Admissions office. Everyone at Fuqua knows we take a hit in most rankings because we don’t always admit the students with the highest GMATs and GPAs, we admit the students with the best and most diverse set of experience in order to enrich the classroom discussion and learning. Everyone is the room is smart enough to make it through the program, even though they may not have had the absolute best stats. As someone who conducted admissions interviews I can tell you that not everyone with a 700+ GMAT and 3.8+ GPA should be automatically admitted to every program. Schools that understand that assess FIT as well as statistics come out with better overall incoming classes, with a diverse group of students that can learn from EACH OTHER as well as their professors. This leads to people getting more out of their experience and thus ENJOYING it more, and perhaps ranking their school higher in customer satisfaction.

    Just a thought…

    However because of the way Duke approaches admissions decisions, we’re always penalized in rankings that take these statistics into account. But we’re fine with that because we know that we are creating an amazing experience within our community.

    Sidenote: I don’t know why people may be so happy to go SMU, so I can’t comment on all of their rank. But one thing to consider is that it’s a highly regional school and I’m assuming a majority of its graduates stay in Texas. Salaries at a lot of the employers that hire at SMU are probably lower because the cost of living in Texas is significantly lower than most places that MBA graduates typically go (NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, etc). Thus MBA grads in this area can make less money and still enjoy the same quality of life.

    Outside of SMU, most of the BW rankings are close to many of the other rankings. Maybe instead of picking on the ranking of ONE school we should be looking at the bigger picture. Just MAYBE this is a fairly good representation of how people intimately associated with these schools feel about the programs. I just filled out the survey for these rankings for this year and as someone who considered all of the schools ranked in the Top 5, I know that the right decision for me was to go to school #6.

  • gnut sucram

    @John, you mentioned that BW ranking is purely reflecting the customer satisfaction. But who is the “Customer”?

    Students who plan to study in Magic 7 schools have different requirements and expectations to those students who plan to study in Top 30 schools. Also, recruiters who recruit in Magic 7 schools also have different requirements and expectations to those companies who target Top 30 schools students. How can BW consolidate different expectations into one table? Customer satisfaction is a relationship between expectation and actual performance. A lower expectation also helps to improve customer satisfaction.

    Using red-wine as an example, Robert Parker tried to give higher score to “Carruades de Lafite” than “Lafite Rothschild”. But we all know that he didn’t mean that Carruades de Lafite is better. He only means that Carruades de Lafite performs closer to his expectation than Lafite Rothschild does. But in absolute quality, Lafite Rothschild still outclassed Carruades de Lafite.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Gnut,

    Good question. BW defines the customer as the companies that hire the grads and the graduates who pay up $250K and up in tuition, fees and opportunity costs to get the degree. Robert Parker would probably advise that you buy as many cases of First Growth wines as you can and store them in your cellar.

  • gnut sucram

    John,

    Thanks for your reply, but I still have difficulties to understand the ranking. SMU ranked 6 in Corp Poll, while students only make $81,000 and Terry ranked 10 and make only $65,000. Meanwhile, Sloan ranked 14 and make $110,000, Tuck ranked 15 and make $105,000, Darden ranked 16 and make $100,000 and Stern ranked 22 and make $100,000.

    Why corps are so satisfy on SMU and Terry graduates (ranked top 10 in Corp Poll) but they are only willing to pay much lesser salary than what they are willing to pay to lesser satisfy (ranked lower) schools graudates. Sloan/Tuck/Darden/Stern, ranked from 14-22 all get 6-digit fat pay cheque

    For International ranking, this is trend is even more obvious. Corps are only willing to pay top ranked (in Corp Poll) school like Rotman/Esade/Schulich/Queen’s/Ivey (All in Top 6) a $75,000-$85,000 range salary. Meanwhile Corps are willing to pay lower ranked schools like No. 10 IMD $124,700, No. 12 IESE $110,400 and No. 15 HEC $117,857?

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Gnut,

    What an MBA earns upon graduation is not a metric in the BW ranking. A company may actually prefer a school whose grads command less pay because they may perceive greater value from a school that produces less costly MBAs.

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