Ranking The Best MBA Alumni Networks

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business


Of course, the alumni network ranking reinforces popular sentiment about several MBA programs. The University of California-Berkeley (Haas), for example, surfaced as a Top 10 program in three out of four networking rankings (though the school’s 17th place finish in The Economist’s “alumni effectiveness” subcategory should temper the school’s enthusiasm). Kellogg ranked 7th in both the Financial Times and The Economic Times rankings. Conversely, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business placed 3rd in “alumni effectiveness” – higher than Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, and Fuqua. However, the school inexplicably finished 28th with Bloomberg Businessweek, which bunches income growth and job satisfaction in with alumni approval. Notre Dame (5th in alumni effectiveness) and UCLA (6th among Bloomberg Businessweek alumni) also punched well above their weight in key rankings.

When you look across the alumni network rankings, it is hard to argue that the true up-and-comers are Cornell and Rice – at least among American schools. Johnson was ranked 10th by both Graduate Programs and Bloomberg Businessweek alumni respondents. And it claimed the 6th spot in the most telling stat: The Economist’s alumni effectiveness subcategory. That said, the program ranked a paltry 35th in Bloomberg Businessweek’s student survey – potentially a major gap between the upbeat sentiments of past graduates and the uneasiness of current MBA students.

At the same time, Rice University sent the MBA universe into a tizzy this fall, ranking 3rd in Bloomberg Businessweek’s alumni survey and 2nd in its student survey. And this was no anomaly. The Jones Graduate School of Business nearly cracked the Top 10 in Graduate Programs’ network ranking. Unfortunately, the marketplace is lagging in its appreciation of this gem, with Rice ranking 40th among recruiters according to Bloomberg Businessweek and 48th among alumni making hiring decision in the Financial Times.




Overseas, INSEAD, the London Business School and HEC Paris dominated the network rankings outside the United States. INSEAD was only one of two programs ranked in Graduate Programs’ Top 25 (#4) for alumni, not to mention reaching #3 overall with The Economist. However, it came in 13th – internationally…not even counting the United States – with Bloomberg Businessweek. Is there an issue with INSEAD alumni that could damper hiring prospects? Probably not, as Economist respondents ranked INSEAD as the third-best education experience. The school also churns out the 5th-most coveted MBAs worldwide according to Financial Times MBAs – and graduates still earn among the highest starting wages.

Like INSEAD, the London Business School ranks in the Top 10 in three out of four network rankings. Like Harvard, LBS suffers from a lower score in alumni effectiveness, finishing an anemic 34th globally. The only silver lining is that HEC Paris fared even worse at 40th, but ranked 2nd overall in the “Potential to Network” category for The Economist. At the same time, the school squeezed out a 3rd place finish in Bloomberg Businessweek’s alumni ranking, falling behind IMD and SDA Bocconi (but above INSEAD and LBS).


As you’d expect, not every business school would view their alumni network ranking as a success. Take Wharton, for example. Considered a “Big Three” school, Wharton’s alumni are less enthusiastic about their alma mater than peer schools. Despite ranking third globally with the Financial Times (a ranking conferred by plenty of non-Whartonites), Wharton ranks 21st overall with The Economist (including #16 in alumni effectiveness) and 14th by Bloomberg Businessweekdomestically. Such sentiments are buttressed by the school finishing just 27th in student surveys about the program. One culprit for such a tepid response: Value. The school ranked 87th in the Financial Times’ “value for money,” a concoction that mixes salary against costs like tuition and opportunity costs). What’s more, Economist alumni ranked the program just 54th in terms of “faculty quality” and 51st for “education experience.” And this is despite Wharton MBAs and students giving their peers the highest marks. In other words, if there is any dissension in the Wharton ranks, it is likely directed towards the school.

Yale School of Management

The rankings also exposed some wild swings of opinion between different outlets. Bloomberg Businessweek respondents pegged the Yale School of Management network at 9th. However, the school plummeted to 35th with The Economist. Chances are, Yale’s alumni network falls somewhere in the middle, with the Financial Times and Graduate Programs ranking the school 17th and 18th respectively.  Similarly, the Columbia Business School fell anywhere from 2nd (Graduate Programs) to 19th (Bloomberg Businessweek), with the school dogged – like Wharton – with low rankings in faculty quality and education experience according to student and alumni surveys. More strange, Booth’s network rankings ranged from 5th (Graduate Programs) to 29th (again, Bloomberg Businessweek) – with the school slapped with a 34th ranking in alumni effectiveness (despite consistently achieving one of the highest placement rates for graduates). And here’s one more, Despite their storied pedigree, both Oxford Said and Cambridge Judge are middle of the pack schools – except with students and alumni surveyed by Bloomberg Businessweek, where they rank 1st and 7th respectively (strictly among non-American schools).

The various rankings also reveal some abnormalities that bear watching. In the Graduate Programs alumni network ranking, you’ll find a Texas two-step, with Texas A&M and Baylor ranking 5th and 12th – despite Baylor not appearing in any other ranking (though Texas A&M finished 16th in Bloomberg Businessweek).  Similarly, SDA Bocconi was ranked 2nd among non-American schools by Bloomberg Businessweek – and 56 and 70 counting all business schools by the Financial Times and The Economist respectively.

To see how your favorite business schools ranked across each of the alumni network rankings, go to the next page.