Linkedin’s Goofy B-School Ranking


Linkedin’s Goofy Business School Ranking

What do you get when you data mine the best companies in specific sectors, cross reference them against professional profiles, and segment them by school?

That’s right…another business school ranking.

Last October, Linkedin leaped into the rankings foray, with its “University Rankings,” using the tagline “Based on career outcomes.” Tapping its nearly 350 million professional profiles, Linkedin has created rankings for both graduate and undergraduate programs that can broken out by the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In addition, Linkedin separates its rankings by discipline, including finance, investment banking, management consulting, marketing, sales, and accounting.


So how does it work? Well, let’s just say that’s where the methodology gets a bit fuzzy. First, Linkedin seeks out “desirable jobs” in a particular industry. These stem from companies deemed desirable for finance professionals. And what makes a company desirable? Here is how Linkedin describes desirability:

“For example, we define desirable finance jobs as finance jobs at companies desirable for finance professionals. “… imagine there are two companies, A and B. If more finance professionals are choosing to leave company A to work at company B, the data indicates that getting a finance job at B is more desirable. This is based on the hypothesis that when a professional moves from one company to another, she gives the company she moves to a strong vote of confidence.”

That said, Linkedin also factors retention into its formula. “…the ability of a company to retain its employees is a strong indicator of that employer’s attractiveness. So, hypothetically, if A and B are both attracting external employees at similar rates, but A has a much larger employee turnover than B, the data would show B to be a more desirable employer.”

From there, Linkedin targets those graduates who work in particular careers at these companies. To keep the rankings current, the site only tabulates those profiles where users graduated within the past eight years. Then, it is simply a matter of separating profiles out by school and then dividing them by degree (graduate or undergraduate) and segment (investment banking, sales, etc.). To rank schools, Linkedin takes the percentages of alumni in particular jobs from various schools and stacks them against each other.


Mind you, the methodology has flaws. It inevitably discounts startups. And it penalizes programs with a broad range of offerings. Linkedin also treats all roles (a vice president or specialist, for example) as equals. The same is true of companies (Would you rather work for Goldman Sachs or Raymond James?). Not to mention, the ranking doesn’t include salaries (the truest “outcome” there is).

If you treat this ranking as another puzzle piece – and don’t get too hung up on the metrics – it can be informative.  For example, you can use the rankings to pick out graduate programs with a heavy emphasis on the function you want to study. Then, just use Linkedin’s alumni tool to find where nearby alumni live, work, and do to build your network.


So how does this ranking compare to U.S. News (which ranks off a shorter window than Linkedin’s eight years)? Let’s start with finance, where Wharton, Booth, and Stern top U.S. News’ 2016 rankings. According to Linkedin, Stern has the highest percentage of students from its graduate program in “desirable jobs” with “desirable companies.” Stern was followed by Cornell Johnson and Virginia Darden. In fact, Wharton and Booth – both dubbed “finance schools” by the press – ranked 10th and 17th respectively in this area – behind programs like Emory (Goizueta) and Wake Forest that aren’t even ranked in U.S. News’ top 25  finance MBA programs.  Then again, Linkedin’s formula includes all graduate degrees, not just full-time MBAs.

Unlike U.S. News, Linkedin also provides rankings for investment banking and management consulting. Not surprisingly, a New York school – Stern – ranks number one here. That should be no surprise to Poets&Quants readers. Before Linkedin released its rankings, Poets&Quants used Linkedin data to identify where graduates from the top 25 MBA programs worked in finance. Not surprisingly, Stern grads were represented more than other schools at Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank. This can be attributed to both Stern’s sizable part-time program and its close proximity to the financial district.

However, you’re bound to shake your head upon learning that Yale and Georgetown rank second and third.  For example, these schools combined, had 403 MBAs at Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley, and J.P. Morgan according to Poets&Quants’ 2014 Linkedin audit. Compare that to NYU, which has 2,221 MBAs at these firms. In fact, fourth-ranked Columbia has 1,091 MBAs at these four firms, over two-and-a-half times the number of Yale and Georgetown. And how Wharton came in ninth in Linkedin’s investment banking rankings is another mystery for another day.

Linkedin’s management consulting ranking was more mainstream. As you’d expect, Harvard Business School topped the list. Again, that outcome was confirmed by Poets&Quants in early 2014 with its “Where the Top 25 MBAs Work in Consulting” research. Using Linkedin data, P&Q found that Harvard dominated the ranks at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. However, the runner-up in Linkedin’s ranking, MIT Sloan, is sure to raise eyebrows. Sloan was only the sixth largest supplier of talent to McKinsey – and ranked seventh with Bain and BCG. Worse, it finished 20th with Deloitte, 23rd with PwC, 13th with Accenture and 11th with Strategy& in terms of the number of alumni working there.

Kellogg, Wharton, and Ross rounded out the top five in consulting, with Kellogg having the largest network among business schools at Accenture and Ross dominating the ranks at A.T. Kearney. Despite having the most alumni in the ranks of Deloitte and PwC, the University of Texas (McCombs) ranked only 18th in Linkedin’s management consulting rankings.

And don’t assume Kellogg is just a marketing school (even if U.S. News has ranked them number one for eons). With Linkedin, Kellogg only ranks seventh among graduate programs. The top program? That would Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. They were followed by Ross, Kenan-Flagler, Wharton, and Goizueta. The biggest exclusion? Look no further than Stanford, whose marketing program is ranked third by U.S. News, but its alumni don’t even crack the top 25 in Linkedin.

To see the top programs for accounting, sales, finance, investment banking, management consulting, marketing, and software development at startups, go to the next page.


Source: Linkedin

In this Issue…







  • WSucks

    Doesnt make sense. This metric does not measure the school’s ability to place you in that job. The denominator is wrong. It should be #employed/#who wanted jobs in industry x, not all students. As a measure of network (alums who can help you) % do not make sense, absolute numbers do.

    Waiting for Whartonites to complain that they are not #1 in banking or finance….

  • Fred Kendrick PhD

    What is the Oracle when looking at college rankings? Seemingly there are logical methods but non appear to be valid for the mired of ways we place importance on student and career outcomes. Seemingly, non use the right chemistry that produces an algorithm that synthesizes data through multifaceted weighted outcomes.

    However, one cant help but to be amused when one of the town folk cry allowed, “We have found a new North Star.” Being the world’s largest mass merchandiser did not work for K-mart and being the largest assembly on earth for collecting and tracking career data does not make LinkedIn the over night SME on college ranking data. Size “does” matter! And especially so when you make goofy mistakes. “You stick out like a sore thumb”. You damage and weaken your brand and even worse, you erode enterprise credibility.

    It’s fine to stay in the pool, but stay in your swim lane. And when you have an idea, there is still value in vetting them through SME groups or data users. Such a practice makes for good business and minimizes brand liability!

  • bwanamia

    There are a lot of people, particularly in finance, who don’t use Linkedin and prefer to minimize their online visibiility.

  • Perhaps

    Depending on the higher ranked program (and there’s a lot above MSB) you passed over it may have made sense. There’s about 15 schools that have better IB ties over MSB ranked higher in USN. I did a class visit to MSB and was not too impressed, it seems they are trying to rely too heavily on their undergraduate rep for recruiting rather than building up the MBA rep w/employers.

  • Jeff Schmitt

    Thank you for sending us your feedback. I had wondered about that, but Haas’ full-time MBA profile on U.S. News also showed women at 63%. However, Haas itself posted 43% women ( As a result, I’m certain that you are correct. Ironically, Ethan Baron, my colleague, did a story on this topic earlier this year ( I appreciate that you pointed this out and we have corrected the story. I will also contact U.S. News to have them correct their story and the 2014 data in their school profile.

  • LOL

    Okay all percentage based?
    So one class of 2 graduates. They both get lucky in job search. 100% going into that industry?

  • LOL


  • Mike

    Wake forest better than HSW for finance. Would anyone select wake forest over HSW? I think answer to that question shows credibility of these rankings.

  • Guest

    Is Fuqua known for marketing?

  • HSW_Admit

    “Using Linkedin data, P&Q found that Harvard dominated the ranks at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. However, the runner-up in Linkedin’s ranking, MIT Sloan, is sure to raise eyebrows. Sloan was only the sixth largest supplier of talent to McKinsey – and ranked seventh with Bain and BCG”

    Anyone with a GMAT higher than 650 will find this assertion (and a lot of other on this article and P&Q) completely dumb.

    Obviously, Linkedin highers smarter people than P&Q. This blog should really get writers with a much stronger understanding of their subject if they want to retain a decent readership.

  • SanityCheck

    I think they just reversed the men and women % figures at Haas. You should check, because Haas was 43% women this year, up from 29% the year before.

  • Esuric

    Edit: I was wrong

  • tasman25

    Why shake your head at the rankings? Absolute numbers aren’t the best way to judge career outcomes (although more important look at overall network). Placement into “desirable jobs” as % of program graduates is a very valuable study that Linkedin has provided.

  • gtownIB

    Exactly why I chose GTOWN over other “higher ranked” programs for IB – understated IB network.

  • Peter

    “To rank schools, LinkedIn takes the percentages of alumni in particular jobs”. Seems to be the right approach, since absolute numbers do not mean much and falsely reward larger programs such as Wharton and Columbia. NYU Stern & MIT Sloan are definitely the top schools for “landing a desirable job” in banking & consulting, respectively. LinkedIn is not ranking the business schools, isn’t that clear..?