Winners & Losers In The 2012 BW Ranking

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s new ranking of the best business schools, North Carolina State’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management has the least satisfied MBA students in the world. Perhaps even worse, Jenkins’ career services office ranks dead last among 114 business schools in the U.S., Europe and Asia, whose graduates BusinessWeek surveyed. You’d think a business school’s full-time MBA program couldn’t get more negative publicity than that.

But at least Jenkins managed to be ranked by BusinessWeek yesterday (Nov. 15) when the magazine published its 2012 ranking of the best full-time MBA programs. Jenkins is 63rd on a list of 63 U.S. schools. An even worse fate? Falling off BusinessWeek’s ranking altogether. This year, five schools disappeared from the magazine’s list of the best full-time MBA programs, including two schools that had ranked in the Top 50 the last time BusinessWeek published its list of the best business schools. Tulane University’s Freeman School, ranked 35th in 2010, didn’t warrant a mention.

Neither did William & Mary’s Mason School, which had been ranked 47th two years ago. Ditto for No. 54 Pittsburgh’s Katz School, and No. 51 Case Western University’s Weatherhead School of Business. All are gone from BusinessWeek’s ranking. It’s not clear whether those schools disappeared because BusinessWeek couldn’t get a minimum response rate on the school from either the Class of 2012 or corporate recruiters. In any case, it’s bad news.


Tulane would have had to fall 29 places, for example, to do its disappearing act. That’s quite an unexplainable plunge for a first class university’s business school.

Every ranking brings winners, who are among the most likely to promote a newly published list and their standing on it, and losers, who quietly ignore the latest news. The new 2012 Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranking is no exception. For while five schools fell off the ranking, there were 10 schools that had not been ranked last time but cracked the 2012 list. This happy group was led by UC-Irvine’s Merage School which placed an impressive 43rd on the list, meaning it had to rise by a minimum of 15 spots to make it. In 2010, BusinessWeek put numerical ranks on 57 U.S. schools versus 63 this year.

Other newcomers to the BW list were No. 46 Texas Christian University’s Neeley School; No. 48 the University of Florida’s Hough School; No. 53 University of Iowa’s Tippie School; No. 55 Syracuse University’s Whitman School; No. 56 the University of Missouri’s Trulaske School; No. 58 Fordham University; No. 60 University of Tennessee at Knoxville; No. 62 University of South Carolina’s Moore School, and No. 63 North Carolina State’s Jenkins.

Other significant winners and losers, of course, are those who stay on the list year after year but move up or down, especially in double-digit movements. The two biggest winners were the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business and Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Smith jumped a remarkable 18 places to rank 24th among the best U.S. schools, up from a lowly 42nd in 2010. Owen rose 12 places to rank 25th, up from 37th only two years ago.


How did they do it? A look at the underlying results pretty much tells the story. Maryland went from a rank of 33rd on BusinessWeek’s student satisfaction surveys in 2010 to a rank of 6th this year. That’s an almost unheard of turnaround from one survey to the next, especially because BusinessWeek combines the results of three student satisfaction polls in 2012, 2010, and 2008 to come up with the ranking. The latest poll gets 50% of the weight, while the other two polls each get 25%. Still, rising 27 places is nearly a red flag event. Maryland also gained considerable ground in the corporate recruiter part of the methodology, moving up ten places to rank 44th from 54th two years ago.

The school is so pleased with the result it shot out a media release yesterday (Nov. 15th) to spread the news. “We’re so pleased to see our commitment to our students and our investments in our programs recognized with this ranking,” said Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam in a statement.  “We have been focused on strengthening the learning experience for our students. We have some of the best researchers in the world who truly excel at translating their work in the classroom for our students. And we’ve made significant investments to transform our career services offerings to help our students develop as strong leaders.”


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