Rankings More Important Than Faculty

by John A. Byrne on

MBA rankings, the bane of every B-school dean, are more important to corporate recruiters than the quality of a school’s MBA curriculum and especially the quality of a school’s faculty, according to new research from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

The news will hardly delight B-school administrators or faculty members who often view business school rankings with great disdain. But the new study, released today (May 10) by GMAC, shows that school rankings are now the fourth most important criteria MBA employers use when deciding which campuses to recruit from. And when you add other specific criteria that are directly related to rankings, such as the “global recognition of the business school” and the “local reputation” of a school, rankings appear to exert even greater influence.

The quality of students remains the single most important criteria, cited by 72% of the recruiters, followed by past experience at a given school (48%) and existing relationships at a school (39%). Student quality has been the number one crierion since GMAC conducted the first corporate recruiters survey in 2001-2002 and is the most important consideration regarless of a company’s location, industry, or size, according to the study.

Nearly four of every 10 recruiters surveyed–some 37%–said that school rankings were critical. Only one in ten–just 10%–said the quality of the faculty was important and only 9% thought school accreditation was crucial. Some 25% of the recruiters–a full 17 percentge points behind rankings–believed that the quality of the curriculum was an important criteria in why they recruit at a campus.

The new, somewhat surprising data comes from GMAC’s 2011 corporate recruiters survey. It reflects the opinions of 1,509 responding participants representing 905 companies in 51 countries. Each survey respondent was asked to check off the five most important reasons why he or she would recruit MBA students on a school’s campus.

One explanation for the importance of rankings is that more companies are recruiting MBAs and they are often recruiting at more schools than they had in the past. “If companies are increasing the number of campuses where they recruit, they use rankings to help identify schools they’re less familar with,” says Michele Sparkman Renz, director of research communications for GMAC. “The Financial Times ranking in particular has a much greater non-U.S. mix with two Indian schools in the top 25. Companies hiring employees for their operations in India may use that ranking and others to decide which schools in India would provide them with the best Indian talent.”

It’s not possible, says Sparkman Renz, to easily compare these findings with earlier recruiter reports by GMAC because of some changes in methodology and reporting. However, it does appear that rankings have become far more important to recruiters in recent years. In 2007, for example, business school rankings were not among the top eight criteria and were below the quality of the curriculum, accreditation, and the quality of the faculty–all of which were ranked fourth or fifth in importance. Today, the quality of the curriculum is eighth, the quality of the faculty is 16th, and school accreditation is 17th.

Interestingly, U.S. recruiters are the least likely to use the quality of the faculty as an important criteria in helping them decide where they recruit MBA students. Only 5% of U.S. responding recruiters from the U.S. said faculty quality was important, compared to 19% in Asia Pacific and 33% in Europe. Far more important to U.S. recruiters was their past experience at a school (55%) and their existing relationships at a school (44%).

Here’s how MBA employers view the most important criteria for determining which campuses to recruit students from:

Criteria Percentage
Quality of the students 72%
Past experience at the school 48%
Existing relationships at the school 39%
School rankings 37%
Influence of alumni working at your company 31%
Depth of the talent pool 28%
Global recognition of the business school 26%
Quality of the curriculum 25%
Location of school 25%
Retention history of past hires 24%
Local reputation 16%
Flexibility of students (willingness to relocate) 14%
Offer or hiring yield 14%
Admissions standards of the school 12%
Salary expectations of graduating students 12%
Quality of the faculty 10%
School accreditation 9%
International diversity of the class 9%
Quality of the career services office 9%
Ethnic diversity of the class 7%
Demand for recent graduates from the school 3%

 

  • Johnnie Welker

    Well, it is just reaffirming what we all thought anyway. All students are ready to go to better ranked schools even with less money. Only location can make a difference to that in my opinion.

    The first criteria is linked to school rankings anyway.

  • MyTurn2012

    In my opinion this is a “D’oh” moment.

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