Which business schools offer the “best career prospects” for their graduating MBAs?
If you were to simply scan three available numbers, you could come up with your own conclusions. Just look at starting salaries and bonuses, the percentage of the latest graduating class with job offers by graduation and the percentage with offers three months later. That pretty much tells you which schools are doing the best job at placing their MBA students into great jobs.
But there’s also another way to determine which schools offer the best career prospects. Every year, Princeton Review surveys MBA students at some 300 business schools and publishes a top ten list of the schools with the “best career prospects.” The Review ranks schools on the basis of students surveys and basic employment data provided by the schools.
As the authors of the Review’s annual guidebook put it, “This rating measures the confidence students have in their school’s ability to lead them to fruitful employment opportunities, as well as the school’s own record of having done so. Factors taken into consideration include statistics on the average starting salary and percent of students employed at graduation…and comments from the student survey, assessing the efforts of the placement office, the quality of recruiting companies, level of preparation, and opportunities for off-campus projects, internships, and mentorships.”
OUR ANALYSIS LOOKS AT THE PRINCETON REVIEW LISTS OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS
Those questions are among the 78 multiple-choice questions and seven “free-response” questions asked of current full-time students. Princeton Review says that at least 10% of full-time students responded “at almost all institutions we surveyed; at many schools, we scored responses from as many as one-third or one-half of the student body–and nearly all in a few cases.”
As we have pointed out in our rankings critiques, however, more often than not the differences among schools on student surveys is so slight as to be statistically meaningless. So in any given year, the results may not be worth the paper or bits they are printed on.
That’s why we’ve taken the results of the Princeton Review surveys over the past five years and combined them. The cumulative result is far more more credible than any one year which can be something of an anomaly. What did we find?
HARVARD TOPS THE LIST BUT STANFORD HAS BEEN RANKED FIRST IN THREE OF FIVE YEARS
Not surprisingly, Harvard Business School provides its graduates with the best career prospects. Harvard made Princeton Review’s top ten list in every one of the last five years. But Stanford comes in next and actually ranked first in three of those five years–in the 2012 guidebook, 2009 and 2008. If not for a sixth place finish in recession-plagued 2010 that seemed to hurt Stanford more than other top schools, the best school on the West Coast would have beaten Harvard.
Only two other schools made the list five out of five times: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management does exceptionally well on the Princeton Review lists as well, though oddly not as well as it has done on BusinessWeek’s rankings which also grades schools on career placement (see ‘World’s Best MBA Career Management Centers’).
All told, there are 15 schools that made this list at least twice in the past five years–out of the nearly 300 at which students were surveyed. Two more–Europe’s IMD and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business–popped up on the list once in the past five years.
(see table of the top 17 schools on the following page)