Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. Healthtech Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.44
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45
Kellogg | Mr. Social Impact Initiative
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Navy Nuke
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
London Business School | Mr. LGBT Pivot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4

Booth Tops 2015 Economist Ranking

The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia

The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia


Generally, wild swings in a ranking tell you less about the quality of a school’s MBA program than it signals about the methodology of the ranking itself. After all, schools rarely if ever change much year over year. In fact, a school’s standing should generally be fairly stable over even longer periods of time, unless there is an aggressive effort to boost a school or a scandal or mishap. So when there are unexplainable changes in a ranking, it’s more often a sign that the methodology is severely flawed and lacks statistical validation. Often times, for instance, the underlying index scores–which The Economist does not reveal–are so close together that a minute, inconsequential change in one measurement can send a school soaring or plummeting.

Of the 100 ranked schools this year, 24 saw double-digit changes in their year-over-year positions on the list (see The Biggest Winners & Losers in The Economist’s 2015 MBA Ranking). The biggest gainer? The University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business which climbed 22 places to finish 58th from 80th a year ago. The biggest loser to stay in the Top 100 was the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Germany which plunged 23 spots to rank 49th this year from 26th in 2014. Seven schools which had failed to make the list last year showed up this time, including the No. 35 Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University and the No. 55 Carlson School of Business at the University of Management. Last year, Carlson declined to participate in the ranking. Michigan State was not ranked because The Economist said it provided limited data.

Yet, as volatile as the year-over-year Economist rankings are, they can be stranger over a few years. Consider Switzerland-based IMD, which as recently as four years ago was ranked third best in the world by The Economist. This year, IMD is a lowly 32, down 11 places from its rank of 21st last year. Or there’s York University’s Schulich School in Canada. It was ranked ninth best four years ago. This year? It barely makes the Top 50, coming in at 46th, down five places from a rank of 41 last year. Meantime, Australia’s Macquarie University in Sydney claimed the 28th best position this year. Three years ago, The Economist had the school 73rd.


It gets worse–or better depending on one’s point of view. The University of Bath, ranked 20th by The Economist only two years ago, today places 64th. The highly regarded University of Southern California’s Marshall School, meantime, ranks 71st in this year’s survey. Four years ago, it was 22nd.

Oddly, The Economist devoted precious little editorial space to promote its ranking. The accompanying story in the print edition of the British magazine is all of two paragraphs long with a table on the Top 20 schools. It’s explanation for why Chicago Booth has topped the ranking for five of the past six years: “One reason for the school’s success is glowing student accounts of its careers service, faculty and facilities.”

The data published by The Economist shows that HEC Paris delivers the biggest percentage increase in pay over pre-MBA salary: a 148% pop, followed by 117% for Warwick MBA grads and 109% for IESE MBAs. In comparison, according to the data gathered by The Economist, Harvard Business School graduates saw only a 59% increase over their pre-MBA salaries.


The lower immediate return is largely the result of HBS students leaving jobs that pay significantly higher salaries than students at either HEC, Warwick, or IESE. But the reported disparities among the schools–which have important weight int he ranking–appear too large to be believable. The data is self-reported and only reflects salary and not total compensation. The increase for Stanford MBAs, according to the magazine, is only 52%. But Stanford and Harvard MBAs both are more likely to receive sign-on bonuses, other guaranteed compensation, and equity. That’s just one example of how The Economist‘s methodology fails to smartly measure the short-term gains of a school’s MBA degree.

More telling is that despite Warwick’s impressive showing in 18th place, fewer of its graduates actually had jobs three months after graduation than many of the schools ranked beneath it. In fact, Warwick’s 82% job rate was the worst of the Top 20 ranked schools and the only school below 90%. No. 19 Yale and No. 20 Duke boasted employment rates of 93% and 94%, respectively, significantly better than higher ranked Warwick. If GMAT is one measure of the quality of incoming students, moreover, Warwick posted the lowest average GMAT score of any top 20 school: 658. That is 63 points below lower-ranked Yale, where the incoming class has a 721 GMAT average.

(See following page for the 2015 ranking and how it compares over five years)

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.