Why U.S. News Whacked NYU Stern

NYU Stern Dean Peter Henry was shocked last week when U.S. News told him his school had fallen to a rank of

NYU Stern Dean Peter Henry was shocked last week when U.S. News told him his school had fallen to a rank of

Last week when New York University Stern School Dean Peter Henry was told his school would fall nine places to rank 20th in U.S. News’ forthcoming list, he had to be shocked. Ever since the magazine began ranking MBA programs in 1989, Stern had never ranked so low. Last year the school’s full-time MBA placed 11th. Its worst ranking ever was 14th. There was no obvious reason for that big a fall to 20th this year. After all, there was little change in the school’s year-over-year metrics used by U.S. News to rank the best full-time MBA programs.

Sure, Stern’s acceptance rate had inched higher to 20.0%, from 18.1% a year earlier. Some 89.0% of last year’s MBAs had jobs three months after graduation, down from 90.4% the previous year. But some of the school’s stats, including its employment rate at commencement, had actually improved, along with the starting pay last year’s graduates received.

Was it even remotely possible that Stern could plunge nine places to its lowest rank ever? Dean Henry says that when he heard the news, he was “surprised” in what has to be an understatement. We “looked at the data, and found that Stern’s scores were higher than a number of other schools with higher ranks. So we challenged their ranking of Stern,” he recounts.

OMISSION WAS ‘WHOLLY UNINTENTIONAL’ & ITS VALUE WAS NEARLY IDENTICAL TO LAST YEAR

The dean quickly discovered that his school had unintentionally omitted one data point out of more than 300 asked for by U.S. News. It was the number of incoming students who had taken the GMAT test. The magazine relies on this statistic in its ranking model to to determine the strength of a school’s entering class relative to other programs. The magazine has been burned in the past by a few schools, including Tulane University’s Freeman School, that sent in fraudulent information to be ranked higher. So it takes a tough line on both omissions and the submission of wrong data.

Yet, in this case, the school told U.S. News it was merely a simple mistake. “The data point has been provided by Stern in previous years,” Henry wrote in an email to students last night, “and its omission was wholly unintentional; its value was nearly identical to that we submitted last year. In lieu of the missing data point, U.S. News informed us that they used an ‘estimated’ number, though we have not been told what this estimate was, on what it was based, or how it was factored into the computation. Nor did U.S. News flag the missing data point in the final step of their data verification process, and unfortunately, Stern’s internal reviews did not pick up the omission, either.”

Instead of calling up Stern and asking for the missing piece of information, U.S. News—which is ranking tens of thousands of schools in business, law, medicine, engineering and education at the same time—chose to use its estimate which severely penalized Stern. When school officials tried to give U.S. News the previously omitted information, the magazine refused to re-run all its rankings calculations.

  • Dave

    Many first tier MBA programs have failed to submit (much more significant) admission stats to USNWR over the years and were never penalized in the rankings. UChicago, for instance, once withheld its acceptance rate number and it did not affect its rankings.

  • Tat656

    Stern has never been ranked below 14, so your 18-25 estimate is too low. Yale has been an okay program, but its new Dean (who was a Dean at Booth), has been focusing on increasing its rankings, so good for them. The PT program at Stern I don’t believe is included in this ranking and therefore is not relevant to this… it’s geared toward a different target audience and is still one of the best PT programs out there.

    Regardless of all of this, if Tuck was misrepresented in the rankings due to some stupid admin people that don’t know what they are doing on either side… you’d be pissed too.

  • tj656

    Both the stern admin who omitted the answer and US News individual(s) who made up, I mean ‘estimated,’ the missing answer are incompetent. Either way, you have to admit that by estimating a score (that has not varied YOY btw), US news ended up doing exactly what it set out to avoid… providing unreliable info to the public.

  • Rage2G

    Now that I have read every comment, let’s get a few things out of the way. Yes, I am a Stern student, I like my school, and I don’t give a crap about its ranking. Now, here is my opinion in the matter.

    Someone should be FIRED at NYU Stern for having sent the incomplete information. Come on, you pride yourselves as being a top 10 institution for business students, and you have one of your workers submit incomplete information? I’d just love to see a professor’s face if you submit a final project with a section missing, and when grades are handed out you come back saying “oh! I missed that part.” I’m sure that depending on the educator the result will be you getting a revision, or simply keep that grade with no asterisk attached to your grade.

    However big Stern’s mistake was, it isn’t even comparable to what US News did. Sure, US News could have opted to just leave Stern out altogether, and say it’s because of missing information. A different solution would have been to use an average of the last 5 years’ GMAT scores, or at least using last year’s, but what did they actually do after acknowledging there was missing information? Well they went out and pulled a number out of thin air and rammed it down Stern’s throat. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that Stern is innocent and should be let off the hook, I just think you don’t have to make up information to further punish them for their mistake. If you wanted to punish them, just push them a couple of spots down and state “The lack of professionalism from this institution, by not submitting complete information, has been considered in their score as a school.”

    All in all, this is going to affect some students? Yes. Who? Those who are competing for jobs at firms that have a recruiter who doesn’t care about an asterisk next to a school’s name, but only cares is the main page. Will that be many recruiters? I have no idea. All I know is that it doesn’t directly affect me in my job hunt, since I already know where I’ll be going, but it does affect my perception of US News from here on out.

    Oh, and for those of you talking about the part-time program, that is a completely separate ranking and is not involved in this 11 to 20 issue, there it went from 4th to 10th (I believe. Need to fact check).

    Sincerely,

    Raz

  • Sternie2017

    hey kid, I recommend you to take an argumentation course before you finish high school.

  • Sternie2017

    it only includes average sign in bonus. i would expect first full year income of +200k for at least a quarter of sternies.

  • Sternie2017

    Your conclusion is flawed. I never implied or suggested that I’m afraid of the depreciation of my degree. I’m not worried about that.

    Grown ups and employers know that the value of a degree does not depend on some rankings. In fact, to get my internship I competed against some M7, not Yale or Tuck.

    My point is that US News prides itself on providing useful information, but this time they published something not useful with a note stating it. That can misinform prospective MBA students, and that’s unethical.

  • Dick Fuld

    Stern is the Lehman Bros. of the B-School World.
    Take it from me.
    – Dick Fuld

  • BSG

    Dean Peter Henry does. He wrote a letter about this.

  • Francis P. Remengesau

    Why not just drop US News all together? NYU can create a consortium of schools in NY state to review and publish statewide colleges and universities standings, instead of relying on US News. On another note, US NEWS should have persevered to obtain the information it needed, or contact the school and demand the information it needs, instead of forging on without clarification from NYU. All in all, US NEWS should be responsible for publishing inaccurate information.

  • Ohhhhhh

    And look at those whining Sternies. With this kind of mentality you deserve to get ranked 20th

  • Butthurt

    Instead of shamelessly bashing USNWR, just be the bigger person and admit that your school made a mistake. USNWR does not have to give any school any kind of special treatment. You missed the deadline. Period. Any of my previous bosses would have demoted or fired me for missing such an important deadline.

    I know that you are afraid that your degree may be depreciated, but come on, #20 is not that bad! Sure, you will be lagging behind the M7 + Yale and Tuck, but things could be way worse.

  • Blind

    Uhhh shouldn’t you blame Stern leadership for this mishap instead 🙂 ?

  • Trollsareoutforblood
  • Pear

    Everyone and their mom has a NYU MBA in NYC area. Too many PTers, FTers, and EMBAers. That brand holds very little value and not really respected.

  • Sternie2017

    any of my previous bosses would have demoted me if I had made a presentation using incorrect or outdated data. . . why isn’t it the best interest of US News to publish the most useful information? not only they used an estimate, they used a bad estimate… and not only it wastes their time, but it distorts the truth for many prospective mba students, and that’s unethical.

  • dergo

    such a horrible statement. ..

  • Orange 1

    Porky, I don’t know how you make this up to people. Additionally, if it hurts admissions, that will affect the ranking moving forward. Dean Henry is an impressive person – no question about it. But the world is full of impressive people that still need to get the job done. You hear about the momentum at Cornell or Yale or UCLA but not at Stern. Maybe part of it is a lack of PR, but they need to do more to develop excitement as they do have some new, interesting initiatives.

  • RankingBS

    Who dafuq cares about these rankings anyways?

  • The shoe from Monopoly

    Funny you accuse Yale of “padding their stats” when SOM and Sterm are viewed as peer schools AND they have almost the exact same average GMAT.

    If Stern was more selective (more applicants and/or smaller class size) and had a lower average GMAT like Sloan or Haas, I’d be inclined to believe you.

    And it’s interesting that you seem to rate highly the EQ and IQ of Stern’s students. It’s almost like that’s something exclusive to Stern students, while the other top 10/15 schools are a bunch of socially inept morons.

  • Porky

    I’m a full-time MBA at Stern. Yes, this was a monumental screw up and Stern needs to figure out a way to make this up to alumni, current students, and prospective students. Dean Henry is an incredibly bright and accomplished guy (played college football, was a Rhodes Scholar, PhD from MIT, Obama tapped him for a bunch of things, former Stanford Professor and rumored Dean candidate for that school – although now who knows) and hopefully he will make this right and continue Stern on the positive path he has put it on over the last six years.

    Stern has a great EQ+IQ culture, which from my experience in applying last year (which included getting into Booth among a few other schools) only Kellogg and Tuck seem to fold into their admissions process well. This is my opinion, feel free to disagree, but this makes Stern a unique place. Nobody could claim we’re padding our stats like they do with Yale because of the consistently high quality of EQ individual. Because of this I’m not sure because of this why the peer assessment score has not risen in the past four years – and that makes me question these rankings somewhat aside from our data reporting issue.

    I have speculations based on talking with an academic family friend at another top MBA program (Tuck) – that some academics tasked with giving out this score are either (a) are confused about the link between the part time and full time program (separate programs with separate admissions standards, small number of overlapping classes) or (b) are mad that the part time program dilutes the brand of MBAs in general and are taking it out on that score (which I think is questionable based on my experiences but that’s another debate for another time).

  • SternMBA2

    Isn’t trolling so exciting! Winters are long up at Tuck aren’t they?
    While I don’t want to stroke your frail ego, you are right regarding the part-time MBA program. The program is huge, it dilutes the brand, and I hope Stern will stop being greedy and make the part-time program much more selective.

  • Go Away

    Highly doubt you go to Tuck with that verbiage, keep moving along troll.

  • Future Tuckie

    You’re a Tuck student and this is how you conduct yourself? I’ll be heading to Tuck this fall and I’m said that you’re in my community. You don’t represent Tuck at all.

  • Tucklife

    I love all the crying stern students. Stern is a terrible program. They have too many parts-time mbas. I know so many mediocre students who worked back office jobs that got into stern. Stern has weak academics and no respect by employers.

    I also love hate directed at Yale som. I have no dog in the fight as I go to tuck but I would choose Yale som 100 times out of 100 vs stern.

    Ew stern is a joke. Even without the error they below ranked 18-25. Nothing higher.

  • Ivy League Tiger

    You seriously need to take some fish oil pills man. It would do wonders for your cognitive functioning.

  • Ivy League Tiger

    Ok great. Now lets talk about the massive debt Stern students typically go into for that shiny degree you boast of.

  • Nick

    With respect to NYU Stern’s 2017 ranking, If US News is willing to publish rankings which they themselves have admitted are incorrect, I think it signals a lack of quality, independence, and trustworthiness going forward. While it’s inexcusable for Stern to not properly submit data to an entity at represents a significant part of the school’s public perception, this does entirely call into question the validity of US News’s rankings.

    Regardless of a clerical error, It’s still a top program and either should be (1) entirely excluded with an explanation as to why or (2) the rankings should be corrected. As a current student, I have had a stellar academic experience under a strong school administration and alongslide a smart, passionate group of students. I have witnessed firsthand the school’s superior job placement and believe US News’ rankings completely and knowingly misrepresent the character and quality of the program.

  • permanda

    Yale of course. It is weird in a sense that it has no identity, once it wanted to be for “public”, NGOs, blah blah.. and then it turned to be IB and quant program! its program was MPPM or so because they were looking down to MBAs but later they realized the real world.. they rely heavily on the brand of mother university which always suspecting the “business school” thing. It is indeed weird and not a real business school, it is a joke for other Yale schools.

  • U.S. News reports average salary and sign-on bonus, with the bonus adjusted by the percentage of graduates who receive a bonus. But U.S. News does not include “other guaranteed compensation,” which is also reported by the schools.

  • MBAguy34

    That pay – that is the total income right including annual bonus? Not just the base salary?

  • msm

    Are you referring to Yale or Stern as a weird school?

  • permanda

    I am sorry but the post was about Yale and this flawed ranking, not about me !! do you have ADHD ?

  • Permandaloser

    LOL. You’re ranked dead last among your peers. Loser.

  • permanda

    I knew something went wrong when saw Yale in top 10. In a fair, complete, and robust ranking, this weird school will stop at 13 or 14.

  • Dig Deeper

    That’s what I meant you wanted to publish at midnight (understandably) but in the angst of that you sacrificed getting the full details from Stern the next day. I realize why you wanted to get the article out there quickly just pointing out the costs. Appreciate all your work in this field btw.

  • msm

    It’s exceptionally unfair for US News to include Stern in these rankings using a single “estimated” data point that clearly has a significant impact on their ranking, especially since US News will not be transparent about the number used or how they arrived at this estimation. If anything, there should be a standard for how to handle omitted data points and that standard should be clearly communicated to both the programs and the readers. As it stands now, for all we know, US News could have picked a number out of a hat and that plummeted Stern’s ranking.

    While Stern should absolutely be held accountable for their omission (and they have taken full responsibility in the message the dean sent out), this is a blatant misrepresentation of data and, in my mind, diminishes the credibility of any US News ranking.

  • It was not possible to reach out to Stern close to midnight. And the assumptions I made were quite valid because I was questioning why the school would drop that much due to only minor changes in its numbers. Frankly, I am surprised that Stern didn’t reach out to me, knowing we would be the only news outlet writing about the U.S. News MBA ranking in any depth.

  • Mmm No

    Why because STERN forgot to answer a question sure hope this lapse in attention to detail isn’t pervasive at other aspects of the program…shade

  • Dig Deeper

    The point was rather to question why such a large drop rather than make assumptions as you did initially. Had you reached out to Stern I’m sure they would have gladly told you to justify the change but I think you were quickly wanting to get the article out. Just food for thought.

  • Jimmy87

    Stern students should sue US ranking…

  • SERDA

    So, what would we expect? change in ranking or what?

  • This background was not available at the time of publication. Neither U.S. News nor Stern had made any public disclosure of the issue. The moment I knew there was an issue–and that was well after midnight–I updated the story to include that fact.

  • Dig Deeper

    This background should have been published with the first post of the USNWR rankings. I know USN rankings are a hot topic and you want to be quick to publish a story, but there is also a level of journalism that needs to be taken before making speculation on the Stern drop like you did on the first article. Clearly there was a reason for the drop that goes beyond the slight deviations you wrongly assumed, you should have asked yourself if there something more to this story.