The Best Business Schools For Teaching
For some b-school applicants, the decision comes down to hard facts like costs, starting salaries, and placement rates. Others look at fuzzier metrics like the caliber of an alumni network or a particular specialization. In the end, all students return to campus for one reason – to learn.
Faculty makes the difference here. Depending on the quality of their research, students can be exposed to emerging trends and best practices long before their peers at other schools (or potential employers for that matter). The faculty’s ability to succinctly and memorably deliver content is often the difference between knowing and eventually doing. Great teachers have an innate ability to elevate discussions, to inspire challenge and bring out the best in their students. Of course, celebrated professors always have the best networks; their blessing can open doors and rouse job offers.
That said, the best credentials don’t always produce the finest teachers, nor do the biggest names necessarily translate to the best educational experiences. Reputation-wise, you’ll hear that the top MBA teachers are found at Darden, Tuck, and Kelley – and that’s not by accident. Those cultures are built on teaching excellence. And their high placement and student satisfaction rates attest to its success.
THREE RANKINGS USING SIMILAR METHODS
Question is, how do students themselves feel about faculty – and the educational experience as a whole? There are actually three rankings that address this very question – with some wild swings and big surprises in the results.
The first ranking, GraduatePrograms, is called the “Business Schools With the Best Quality of Education.” It was released this fall, based on a general survey completed by over 13,000 MBA alumni and students who visited the site. On a scale of 1-10, where 1 was poor and 10 was perfect, these respondents rated their alma maters on “access to relevant, interesting, and challenging courses taught by qualified professors.”
The Economist’s data was based on surveys submitted and completed by “thousands” of current students and newly-minted MBAs. It offers two relevant rankings. The first is “Faculty Quality,” which is an equal mix of quantitative and qualitative data, including faculty-to-student ratio, percentage of faculty with Ph.D.s and student feedback. The Economist also ranks “Educational Experience,” a collection of data points (all equally weighted) that consists of student rating of the curriculum and facilities, as well as the number of languages taught and range and access of overseas exchange programs.
The Princeton Review also ranks faculty and classroom experience. The former is based on “answers to short survey questions concerning how good their professors are as teachers and how accessible they are outside the classroom.” The latter addresses “their professors’ teaching abilities and recognition in their fields, the integration of new business trends and practices in the curricula, the intellectual level of their classmates’ contributions in course discussions, and whether the business school is meeting their academic expectations.”
Of course, each ranking carries certain limitations. For example, score data was only available in GraduatePrograms. The Princeton Review also only publicized the Top 10 schools in the faculty and student experience categories. And The Economist was a global ranking, with Poets&Quants modifying school rankings so schools would only be compared against other schools on the table (See next page for rankings table).
IS CASE WESTERN RESERVE REALLY BETTER THAN HARVARD?
As you might expect, the results are all over the board…literally. In the Princeton Review, readers ranked Indiana University (Kelley) as having the best professors. However, it placed 35th in The Economist (among schools selected by Poets& Quants). The difference? For one, The Economist includes hard stats. That staggered Kelley, where only 78% of faculty holding doctorates according to the Financial Times. Still, the faculty receives rave reviews from alumni, who laud them for being down-to-earth, accessible, and committed. “The students are highly engaged with the program and the professors and administrators have appeared so closely connected to the program that they seem like students pursuing the same path as enrolled students,” writes “Stephen,” a member of the 2017 Class in GraduatePrograms.
In The Economist ranking, the University of Maryland (Smith) employed the best faculty according to respondents. Ironically, The Economist was the only outlet to even rank Maryland for faculty or education experience (It placed 10th for the latter). However, the school has earned plenty of plaudits from satisfied alums – not to mention a #1 ranking in Bloomberg Businessweek’s most recent MBA student survey. “Had excellent professors and classmates,” wrote “Kenyon” in Forbes. “Phenomenal school and program for an MBA,” adds “Kevin,” a member of the 2016 Class, in GraduatePrograms. “Very collegial, supportive, and intellectually challenging environment.”
Last – but not least – Case Western Reserve (Weatherford) topped the GraduatePrograms faculty ranking. A bit surprising, considering it ranks 63rd by U.S. News & World Report – and doesn’t crack the Top 75 with Bloomberg Businessweek. However, it made a respectable showing with The Economist in terms of faculty (34th) and experience (37th) – not to mention post-MBA salary increase (13th-best in the world) and breadth of alumni network (10th globally) according to The Economist. And the school has plenty of proponents among alumni and students alike. “I can gladly say that I made one of the best decisions of my life [coming to Case Western Reserve],” writes “Kbhines,” a 2015 graduate, in GraduatePrograms. “The people and the program were a perfect fit for me. The class size was perfect for the way in which I learn, and the accessibility of my professors was ideal.”
So how do some of the top schools fare in these rankings? Harvard Business School had to be pleased. It ranked #1 with the Princeton Review for its “Classroom Experience,” edging out Yale and UCLA. At the same time, it plummeted to 24th in The Economist’s “Education Experience” ranking (with Yale and UCLA finishing 5th and 6th here). In this category, the honor went to the University of Virginia (Darden), which topped INSEAD and Booth for the best experience. Long known as the home of rock star teachers (It ranked 7th here with The Economist), Darden is renowned for both rigor and support – which ultimately produces graduates who are ready to both lead and work as a team member.
For “NChaker,” a first-year in Darden’s full-time MBA program, three things stand out about the Darden experience: “Case Method, the Darden community (Trust the process!) and the world-class, extremely involved faculty,” he writes in GraduatesPrograms. “You do work harder than probably everyone else on the top 20, but you receive support from every corner, from second years dropping by with snacks and breakfast biscuits and ice-cream sandwiches, to Career Development staff scheduling mock interviews with you on Sundays. And Charlottesville’s charm cannot be overstated.”
To see how your favorite business schools ranked across each of the faculty and experience rankings, go to the next page.