McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Wharton | Mr. Rates Trader
GMAT 750, GPA 7.6/10
Tuck | Mr. Engineer To Start-up
GRE 326, GPA 3.57
Columbia | Mr. RE Investment
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Ms. Big 4 M&A Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 2:1 (Upper second-class honours, UK)
Wharton | Mr. Firmware Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.04 (scale of 10)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Captain CornDawg
GRE 305, GPA 4.0
Tepper | Ms. Coding Tech Leader
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Chicago Booth | Mr. Banker To CPG Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 7.36/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. Desi Boy
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Impactful Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Engineer
GMAT 720, GPA 7.95/10 (College follows relative grading; Avg. estimate around 7-7.3)
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Former SEC Athlete
GMAT 620, GPA 3.8
Tuck | Mr. Army To MBB
GMAT 740, GPA 2.97
Columbia | Mr. Forbes 30 Under 30
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB Advanced Analytics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Leading-Edge Family Business
GMAT 740, GPA 2.89
Darden | Mr. Logistics Guy
GRE Not taken Yet, GPA 3.1
Kellogg | Mr. Stylist & Actor
GMAT 760 , GPA 9.5
Columbia | Mr. Ambitious Chemical Salesman
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Irish Biotech Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Cricketer Turned Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 7.15/10
Wharton | Mr. Planes And Laws
GRE 328, GPA 3.8
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Refrad
GMAT 700, GPA 3.94

How MBAs Rate Their Business Schools

Survey

If you’re a poet, you associate spring with renewal. You exalt the healing powers of sunshine and showers as cold turns to commotion. The cycle is similar for professionals weighing business school. Here, spring is a time to start and commit. For some, it is choosing between school offers. For others, it is the point when you start prepping for your GMAT and researching potential targets.

So what differentiates MBA programs? To find the answers, you’ll probably start by consulting websites and rankings. Once you whittle down your options, you’ll move on to visiting campuses and reaching out to alumni and former students. Location…concentrations…scholarship money–they all play a part. Eventually, you’ll want to focus on the intangibles. Chances are, you’ll ask these questions during your journey: Which schools have the most talented and supportive peers? Where will you find the best scholars, teachers, and practitioners? What programs boast the best facilities and career support?

ECONOMIST MBA SURVEY IS THE SILVER LINING IN A MIDDLING RANKING

You’re in luck. Each year a survey is conducted on these very issues. Better yet, they are completed by MBA students and recent graduates themselves. And the kicker is, the survey is conducted by the most improbable of sources: The Economist.

Yes, everyone loves bashing The Economist. Lord knows, they leave themselves open to ridicule. In The Economist’s flaky and fluky world, Stanford ranks as just the 13th-best full-time MBA program in the world. Australia’s Queensland Business School places higher than Yale and Duke. And London Business School barely cracks the top 25. It’s a strange dynamic, really. The Economist’s methodology, a mix of quantitative metrics balanced against qualitative student survey results, sound great in theory. In practice, the rankings resemble Batman vs. Superman, a dissonant mash of holes and ridiculousness where the parts are more appealing than the whole.

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business is ranked tenth among the best U.S. B-schools by Poets&Quants.

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

That said, the student and alumni survey may be the most valuable parts of all. Based on data collected last spring, The Economist survey measures the quality of facilities, faculty, curriculum, culture, and career services separately using a five point scale. To qualify, each school’s response rate must either equal “25% of the latest intake or 50 students/alumni (whichever is lower).” Think of the survey this way: It would be like tapping 25 or more students–from each school–about key areas that are often hard to measure. And the results provide a way to stack schools according to their strengths and weaknesses, along with judging MBA enthusiasm after they step onto campus.

DUKE, UCLA AND VIRGINIA OFFER THE BEST FACILITIES

Let’s start with facilities. In this area, Duke (Fuqua) earns the highest collective mark at 4.78, barely edging out UCLA (Anderson) at 4.76 and the University of Virginia (Darden) at 4.75. What is Fuqua’s secret? They are continuously upgrading their facilities year-after-year, focusing most heavily on embedding classroom technology and carving out more space for meetings and activities. Most recently, the school invested $47 million dollars to renovate their Thomas Executive Conference Center to add guest rooms and a 5,600 square-foot meeting room.

Thanks to a $100 million dollar gift from Marion Anderson in 2015, Anderson intends to build a new tech and research center. However, students were already pleased with the school’s infrastructure, which includes six interconnected buildings featuring distinctive terracotta brick and limestone exteriors. Still, the most picturesque campus may be Darden, where its red brick exteriors and classical columns, punctuated by spacious courtyards, harkens back to the age of Thomas Jefferson. Not to mention, the campus also features a recreation center that includes an Olympic-sized pool along with several basketball and racquetball courts.

At the opposite end, London Business School and HEC Paris were judged by MBAs to offer the worst facilities. Not surprisingly, three American schools in the midst of large scale construction projects–the University of Texas (McCombs), Northwestern University (Kellogg), and the University of Michigan (Ross)–rank low in this part of The Economist survey. Expect those schools to climb into the upper echelon in the coming years.

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