Top Ten Business School Rankings of 2015

IMD is ranked third among the top 50 business schools outside the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland

6) Forbes’ 2015 Ranking of U.S. Schools: It’s all about the Benjamins with this ranking. The Forbes methodology focuses almost exclusively on Rate of Return.  It’s a simple metric really: Forbes surveys alumni from 95 school worldwide, collecting earnings from the first five years after graduation. After factoring in opportunity costs and tuition and fees, Forbes calculates a five year gain in earnings.

Among American schools, Stanford retained its #1 ranking, with the Class of 2010 experiencing a $89,100 gain. That may not sound impressive, so brace yourself for a number that paints a more colorful portrait. These Stanford graduates were also the highest-paid among all business grads, grossing $255,000 on average now. Not to mention, Stanford students endured the biggest sacrifices, passing up $86,000 salaries in 2008 to enroll.

As you’d expect, Harvard ranked second with an $83,500 five year gain. And that’s the cut off point, with Kellogg and Columbia ranking 3rd and 4th at $72,700 and $71,000 respectively. The biggest salaries? Not surprisingly, 2010 Harvard grads were pulling down $239,000 annual paychecks, with graduates from Columbia, Wharton, Booth, and MIT also breaking the $200K barrier. The biggest surprise? Despite collecting $170,000 salaries, Darden grads had gained just $56,600.

Comparing schools is more complex internationally, with full-time MBA programs broken out into one- and two-year programs. Among the latter, London Business School grads scored the highest ROI, banking a $102,100 gain after five years. They were followed by IESE ($84,800) and HEC Paris ($77,800). LBS grads also attracted the best pay, with 2010 grads making $210,000 annually — $51,000 more than IESE grads. Among one-year programs, INSEAD grads made the most headway after graduation, with a five-year gain of $171,200. However, IMD grads are enjoying the last laugh, as their 2014 salaries surpassed their INSEAD peers by a $226,000-to-$209,000 margin.

The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

7) Booth Tops 2015 Economist Ranking: The Economist is the most maligned of b-school rankings. So it helps to think of an Economist ranking as a raucous summer action movie, with plot holes and pointless CGI galore. If you accept it for what it is – pure escapism – you learn to overlook its limitations. Like any summer movie, this ranking has plenty of cool stuff to keep your attention. In this case, you’ll find data points that you can’t find anywhere else like career services assessments, student quality scores, and a diversity of recruiters ranking. Not to mention, the survey captures bedrock data like education experience and alumni effectiveness.

Oh, but the rankings has more absurdities than a Batman flick set on Mars. Forget that Booth has held the top spot in The Economist’s rankings for five of the last six years. At least that’s a defensible rank – and Lord knows their quant-laden curriculum could trip up a governor at the Federal Reserve. But is Australia’s Queensland Business School – unranked by Forbes, the Financial Times, and Bloomberg Businessweek (and 49th among internationals with P&Q) – really better than Duke or Michigan? Is the London Business School just the third-best MBA program in the United Kingdom behind Warwick and Henley? Do Stanford and Harvard actually rank behind Darden and Tuck? To borrow a phrase from ESPN, “C’mon, man!”

The root of the problem? Over a third of the ranking is based on fluffy criteria involving career services. And graduate pay metrics – the true test of how the market values a particular school – only amounts to 20% of The Economist ranking (Compared to 40% of the Financial Times – The Economist’s closest comparison).

So don’t get spooked if your target school doesn’t rank high in an Economist ranking. Chances are, it’ll be surrounded by some pretty prestigious company.

UT at Dallas' School of Management is ranked 78th among the top business schools in the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

UT at Dallas’ School of Management

8) U.S. News: The Schools Corporate Recruiters Prefer: It’s no secret. Top recruiters flock to the top schools. And it’s easy to understand why. Business schools are the corporate farm system. They weed out the jerks in the acceptance process, ground their first years in the fundamentals, and imbue their students with the right mindset and values. With $100K salaries and million dollar clients and projects on the line, recruiters simply can’t afford risks.

So which business schools carry the strongest track records with recruiters? This summer, P&Q pored over five years of recruiter scores. And we found that MIT, Yale and Texas-Dallas have grown increasingly attractive to recruiters. At the same time, upstarts like SUNY Buffalo and Chapman University are gaining traction with recruiters – often at the expense of higher ranked programs. If you’re wondering where your school stands – and where it’s trending among employers – look no further than this in-depth study of recruiter preferences.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.