Notre Dame (Mendoza): How is this for a good year? In 2015, Mendoza soared 12 spots to rank 24th in the Poets&Quants MBA rankings – the biggest leap of the year. Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of the banner year enjoyed by the Class of 2015. Here, three month placement leaped from 87.7% to 93%, with average starting bases rising from $102,404 to $108,219 (and average bonuses up over $1,500 to $21,099). Make no mistake: Mendoza grads benefit from the aura of the Notre Dame brand. More importantly, they can tap into one of the world’s strongest networks. Mendoza alumni themselves rank the school’s “network effectiveness” and “potential to network” as the 5th and 8th best in the world respectively according to The Economist’s latest survey. And that opens a lot of doors for talented and ambitious Golden Domers.
Jack Welch Management Institute: Ever wish business schools would run themselves like businesses? At the Jack Welch Management Institute, they literally practice what they preach. The school culture is based on customer service, where faculty and leadership measure themselves against customer satisfaction metrics. Here, there is continuous dialogue between students and school on faculty, curriculum and services. In fact, survey results help dictate pay. In conjunction with Jack Welch’s philosophy, the bottom 10% of faculty performers is weeded out too.
Such relentless focus on customer service and educational impact explains how the Institute has emerged as one of the fastest-growing MBA programs, with the student population climbing from 140 to 1,057 students in just four years. Beyond its popularity, the Institute delivers the goods. This summer, its Net Promoter Score hit a record 77, higher than NPS scores produced by leading brands like Amazon (69) and Jetblue (68). And this 77 score far exceeds educational stalwarts like Duke Fuqua (67), Wharton (51), and the Harvard Business School (41).
And the future of the Institute looks bright indeed. The program is led by Craig Clawson former managing director of Duke Corporate Education – consistently ranked among the top providers of customized executive education by the Financial Times. It also continues to draw executives from top names like IBM, General Electric, and FedEx. Not to mention, the Institute’s 80 year-old namesake is still heavily involved in its curriculum and operations (not to mention regularly engaging with his “customers”).
Students as customers? That’s all part of the Institute’s faculty mantra, which is summed up in one word: Generosity. “Believe in our students Focus on student success. Coach and mentor. Engage with compassion and understanding. Offer candid feedback. Instill confidence.” Who knew that such fundamentals could be so profound in a classroom!
University of Virginia (Darden): Darden has always been a bit of an outlier. Known for teaching excellence, it has a reputation for being a program where students work harder than everywhere else – digesting over 500 cases as part of a punishing pace. In the end, the rigor yields results. Darden finished as a Top 10 program by recruiters and students alike in the Bloomberg Businessweek 2015 satisfaction surveys. In fact, The Economist ranks Darden as the #2 MBA program globally – and the top school for both personal development and education experience.
So who would want to tinker with such success? This fall, Darden did just that, launching a mandatory experiential learning course (Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship in Action – IDEA) or first-years to keep pace with the Rosses and Tucks of the world. They also created a Darden Academy, a weekly gathering of first-years to discuss contemporary issues. No, don’t expect Darden to stray from tradition and abandon the case method anytime soon. Instead, think of this as refreshing an already-successful formula.
And it’s a nod to this summer’s changing of the guard, with outgoing Dean Bob Bruner passing the baton to Scott Beardsley, formerly one of the four managing directors of McKinsey. Like any great consultant, Beardsley has launched an exhaustive listening tour, absorbing input and data to find that little edge that makes all the difference. No doubt, Bruner ranks as the most transformational dean south of Roger Martin and Paul Danos. But we’re excited to see how Beardsley will use his McKinseyite might to take Darden to the next level.
HEC Paris: Traditionally, business schools have supplied talent to consulting firms. At HEC Paris, the school partnered with Bain & Company in 2012 to revamp its curriculum. As a result, the school developed a program grounded in the fundamentals, but an emphasis on developing soft skills and applying creative solutions – all in a small school setting where students learn by doing.
A vanilla MBA program just a decade ago, HEC Paris harbors designs of being one of the top three MBA programs in Europe. And it has made serious strides towards this end recently. This year, it ranked 3rd in Forbes’ ranking of the top two-year international MBA programs, with 2010 graduates earning $152,000 within five years of graduation – a five year gain of $77,800. The school also climbed three spots in Poets&Quants’ International MBA ranking to #5, just a shade below IE Business School, as well as raking 7th internationally in the Bloomberg Businessweek’s employer survey.
Overall, HEC Paris also remains one of the most selective MBA programs globally, with just a 16.45% acceptance rate for its most recent class. Plus, it is one of the world’s most diverse programs, with international students constituting 90% of the population. Its 16-month curriculum is seemingly the right length – not too long to siphon away too much potential income and not too short to shortchange students on learning and internships. Of course, the school’s location in Paris, one of Europe’s premier business centers, can’t be underestimated. The same is true of school’s distinctive experience, which includes organizing the annual MBAT competition, which draws 1,500 MBA students from schools ranging from INSEAD to Oxford.