P&Q Editor John A. Byrne Answers Reader Questions About The MBA



Which are the Top 5 Business Schools outside US? 

Rather than bash the rankings, which I am prone to do on a frequent basis, I do believe that the overall rankings—rather than a single one—offer some pretty accurate guidance on your question. Here’s what our latest composite ranking—which takes into account the FT, Forbes, Businessweek and The Economist lists all in one place—suggests and I would stand by this list entirely.

  2. London Business School
  3. IESE Business School
  4. IE Business School
  5. HEC Paris

Now for any one individual, there may be one school in this mix that would be better for you. If you wanted a two-year program, LBS might be your choice. If you wanted a 10-month accelerated program with the most international network of students, INSEAD would probably be your choice. If you wanted to work in luxury goods or retail, you would be hard pressed to find a better place than HEC Paris. All of these considerations are beside the geographic issues that can be extremely emportant because in many cases geography can be destiny.

Here’s our last ranking of the world’s best MBA programs at non-U.S. schools:

INSEAD Claims First In New 2015 Poets&Quants’ Ranking Of International MBAs


What are the best business schools for analytics?

There are no credible rankings on the best business schools for analytics. So my best advice is to look at business schools that are highly ranked for their flagship full-time MBA programs and see which ones have a master’s in analytics. Among the top 50 schools in the U.S., there are already 40 programs in this area. Check our directory to compare and contrast them on cost, time, and subject matter.

Specialized Master’s Program Directory


Are business schools known for their MBA programs also strong in academic research?

That’s pretty much a given, though that wasn’t always the case. In the 1950s, business schools were slammed for lacking academic legitimacy and criticized as trade schools. The criticism hit home and led to major change. In fact, I would argue the pendulum swung too far in favor of academic research, much of it with little hope of ever being useful to business professionals. Even worse, many schools prioritized and rewarded the researchers over the teachers, leading even some of the world class business schools to have professors in classrooms who were mediocre teachers at best. The pendulum is now swinging back toward a more reasonable place with substantial growth in experiential learning, consulting projects, simulations, and learning labs that put more emphasis on personal and professional development. The swing back to a better place is also the result of an influx of what the schools call clinical professors, teachers with real world experience, especially in such fields as entrepreneurship and leadership. Budget worries also play into this because clinical professors and many adjuncts are cheaper to hire and more often than not lack the kind of academic credibility obtained through published work in scholarly journals.

Still, if academic research is important to you, there’s a ranking of the best business schools by research. While it’s not perfect, it’s a good proxy to get a sense of the schools that excel not only overall but also in specific disciplines, from accounting to marketing. Here’s our take on that ranking:

Wharton Remains No. 1 In Research Rankings


What can be done to bring our B-schools into the list of the global top 50?

The good news is that there are a number of lists, each with different criteria. What that essentially means is that you can look at the methodologies of the myriad rankings and decide which one plays to your advantage.

For some, such as U.S. News, GMAT and GPA scores, along with average starting salaries and bonuses and employment rates play a big role. In fact, the single biggest factor in most rankings is pay and employment. So the simplest answer is to make sure you get graduates jobs that pay well—easier said than done, obviously.

Some schools have cracked the code on pay and employment by recruiting students by weighting professional presence over GMAT scores and by over investing in career development and management for MBAs, Frankly, if you want to improve in most rankings, the best return on investment is not in faculty but in top-notch admissions and career services staff, marketing your school so you get better students, using scholarship support to get better students than you deserve.

We ran a fascinating analysis of what matters most in MBA rankings. This proves the point. Check it out:

MBA Rankings Largely ‘Follow The Money’