Kellogg Topples Booth To Capture First In 2017 Economist Ranking

Britain’s Henley Business School has the dubious distinction of dropping the most places this year–34–and still remaining on The Economist list


Given this ranking’s high volatility, there are plenty of big winners and losers. The school making the largest single year gain was Audencia Business School which forged ahead 31 places to finish 63rd from a rank of just 94 last year. But if you count how many steps UC-Irvine had to make to land on its rank of 56th this year from not even making the 2016 list, that school would have had to climb even further–a whopping 45 positions (see table below). Business schools at several other public universities also did incredibly well: Besides The University of Florida’s 20-place jump to rank 20th, the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management gained 16 positions to rank 32nd from 48th a year earlier.

And this year’s losers? Britain’s Henley Business School led the pack, plummeting 34 places to rank 61st, quite a drop from its 27th place finish last year. Hong Kong University of Science & Technology also had a tough year, plunging 27 places to 97th from a rank of 70th in 2016. IE Business School in Spain lost 18 spots to rank 34th, from its 18th place finish a year earlier. The University of Maryland had the biggest fall of any U.S. MBA program, losing 19 places to end up at a rank of 68th from 47th last year.

With such wild and unjustified year-over-year changes, you’d think few business schools would be eager to cite their Economist rankings. But one benefit of the list is that no matter where you turn up, you can certainly claim to be among the top 1% of all the business schools in the world. Even more importantly, the number of metrics used by The Economist allows schools to parse its rankings and brag about more noteworthy showings in different parts of the ranking.


Of course, as puzzling as the overall school ranks often are, once you dive deeper into the data the results can be even more confounding. The school whose graduates have the highest salaries, according to The Economist? It’s HEC Paris, followed by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. That is an utterly unexplainable outcome because year after year, based on actual school employment reports, no MBA program anywhere in the world beats Stanford when it comes to the starting pay awarded graduates. Last year, the average total compensation for an MBA graduate from Stanford was an eye-popping $179,346.

HEC Paris posts excellent starting pay results, with its MBAs last year averaging $101,153 in base salary. But Stanford’s comparative number was $140,553. The formula used by The Economist to track this element of the ranking, however, includes the increase of pre-MBA salary over post-MBA salary, excluding all bonuses, as well as the actual average starting salary, without sign-on or guaranteed year=end bonuses or other perks.

How about the strange category called “diversity of recruiters?” Why that should matter and factor into a ranking is beyond logical, but so are the results. This year’s winner is Hult International Business School, just ahead of the International University of Monaco. It is hard to imagine that either of those schools would draw a more diverse range of corporate recruiters than any of the elite MBA factories such as Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Kellogg or Booth.

Still, the findings get even more entertaining. The MBA program that beat every other rival in the world for “personal development/educational experience” is the University of Bath School of Management, followed by MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Yet, when it comes to personal development, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business probably has what is the most innovative offerings of any business school. For years, it has devoted substantial time and resources to this part of its MBA experience, becoming the world-class standard  to benchmark on MBA personal development. How did Kelley do? It finished last in 100th place.


What about faculty quality? The Economist‘s winner is the University of Maryland’s Smith School, just ahead of Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business. Duh! Pretty much every business school observer knows that the best MBA teaching faculty in the world–based on student and alumni surveys over many years–is at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, but Darden finishes 27th in this category.

Many MBA applicants, of course, make the decision to go to a business school because of the network they will inherit upon graduation. The Economist attempts to measure graduates’ “potential to network” in its student and alumni surveys. The result this year? HEC Paris and the University of Warwick’s business school finish No. 1 and No. 2. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, generally regarded as a powerhouse in this department with the highest percentage of alumni participation in its annual fundraising campaigns, is in 32nd place. Blame methodology again. For this portion of the ranking, accounting for 10% of the overall weight, The Economist equally considers three factors: 1) the ratio of current MBA alumni to current MBA students, 2) the number of overseas alumni chapters, and 3) its student surveys that rate the value of the alumni network. More important than the size of the alumni base or how many city clubs there are, however, is how loyal, accessible and helpful alums are to others in their network.

Finally, who wins plaudits for having the best career services function, according to The Economist survey? Why it’s the University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, which in fact boasts an excellent career service unit, comes in second. However good a job Hough has done in this area–and we are not doubting the efforts of the school in this regard–it’s hard to fathom that the school is better than any other in the world. Such student survey results are most often caused by two major flaws: Cheerleading by survey respondents and highly clustered data which is statistically meaningless because it fails to truly measure the differences between and among the schools.


Interestingly enough, the Kellogg School emerged on top of this year’s list, even though it failed to get a No. 1 ranking in any of The Economist‘s individual metrics. But the school fared well enough across most of the measurements to nudge the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business out of the top spot.

Kellogg was seventh in “opening up career opportunities” and also in “potential to network.” The school was judged fifth in “student diversity.” It ranked 10th in post-MBA alumni salaries, and 12th in “personal development/educational experience.” Kellogg also was ninth in “the number of overseas alumni chapters” and “the alumni rating of alumni effectiveness,” whatever that really means.

This is the first time Kellogg has won The Economist‘s MBA sweepstakes since 2004. Kellogg was on top of this list for the first three editions of the ranking starting in 2002. When Blount became dean in 2010, the school placed 16th. At the end of the day, what matters is who comes out on top. Few will read the fine print in the methodology, and fewer still will remember the ranks of the also-rans. And this year, for the first time in many years, it’s Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

  • Brad
  • avivalasvegas

    As much as I hate disagreeing with you, statistically speaking, you’re wrong. Historically, Kellogg has had more companies recruiting there than most M7 programs. That’s a plus because of the sheer breadth of career options in addition to the standard names that punt at every M7 business school. And a minus… because who wants to work for Bumfuckall Consulting in Idaho?

  • Mballs

    I did MBA from Henley Business School, Full-time (2014-2015). So, 2016 ranking was based on our assessment. Let me paint a sample picture of reality versus Economist ranking.

    Ranking: Percentage who found jobs through the careers service 3 (out of 100)
    Reality: Careers consists of MBTI and Belbin personality test. Nothing else. No recruitment related guidance, or employer panels or anything else for that matter. The School’s reasoning was that the career’s team is new and the head of careers is busy pursuing PhD.

    Ranking: Post-MBA salary ($)107,766; Percentage who received a job offer within three months of graduation 71.0
    Reality: Only 9 people were working after three months of graduation and 7 months of course completion. None had anything to do with careers service. Out of 9, 6 were able to go back to their old jobs after the frustrations of job search.
    Oh and not even the highest salary of any one of them was even close to ($)107,766. As per ranking that’s the average salary.

    Ranking: Potential to network: 1
    Reality: Actual networking events: 0

    Economist ranking doesn’t consist of any matrix for fact checking or avoidance of data manipulation. We had to rank each between 1 to 5. This data submitted to the university is then forwarded to the rankings board. So obviously, the strategy was to give highest points in order to attain highest rankings.
    If you compare the 2016 and 2017 rankings of Henley,it is seen that there is very little change in the inputs. I think the drastic drop in rankings is because the other schools are catching up to the Economist ranking game.

    Point is, either Economist MBA ranking is a complete fraud or hopelessly gullible. Either ways it is not at all reliable.

  • Phillip

    Like I said, look into it. Think of it as a challenge 🙂

    “How significant a change can it really be”: The changes were significant, hence the results across all of the relevant rankings.

    “But most schools”: Certainly one wouldn’t anticipate that all schools behave like the average….

    “I find it hard to believe”: When a person looks at data alone, and ignores the underlying causes, that person may find a lot of things hard to believe.

    Comments often made by those who got blind sided by the competition:
    “How significant a change can it really be?”
    “But most (insert relevant organization type)”
    “I find it hard to believe”

  • BradHasNoData

    How do you know that Kellogg doesn’t attract the companies that HBS/Stanford/Wharton/Columbia do? Where’s the data?

  • ha..

    …and you sound like a try-too-hard Kellogg student or alum with nothing better to do than try to prop up your school. Shouldn’t you be trying to look for a job or something? I guess I expect nothing more from some guy who went to a school named after a cereal company.

  • Sunil Mittal

    Nice try… you sound like a Columbia alum whose trying way too hard here. And clearly who knows nothing about all the top cos that recruit at Kellogg. Let’s have a data-driven discussion here rather than generalities penned by a #fakealum.

  • Deep ak N.A.Shine

    Hey Kellogg , now you are no 1 👍Congratulations. ….keep it up……

  • halo

    See, boys and girls this is an example of the type of “broad” thinking, and “risk-taking”, potential students of “top” MBA programs are known for.

  • Brad

    As a recent Kellogg alum who got admits from other top 5 schools, I chose kellogg because of its amazing tight knit student body and culture. It is an incredible school. It could be ranked #1 in terms of student culture and academics.

    But it does not compare to other top 5 bschools in terms of the number of employers it attracts on campus or job postings. It’s a top 5 school but nowhere near hbs/Stanford/wharton/Columbia in terms of number of companies it attracts. Kellogg should spend 1% of its $350M on the CMC working to attract employers such as tech startups and other medium and small sized companies. Also with an almost 40% international student body that rely on h1b to get a job, they should look at getting most of the below companies on OCR.

  • Satoshi Endo

    haha sarcasm is real here

  • Tough to gauge which one’s the correct one to follow

  • Hahaha

    Yay! Kellogg is number 1!
    Number 1 breakfast cereal!

  • Cam

    Economist always has the most unusual rankings compared to everyone else, we know why it’s so radically different? Are their measurements focussed on different KPIs than US/BW/Forbes?

  • MBAapplicant

    I’m in real dilemma on how to decide between Queensland and MIT. I know Queensland is better but MIT is nice as well. The only concern is brand recognition, everyone knows Queensland MBA and it is one of the most selective (12%) with great parent university unlike MIT where you can get without GMAT and it is nearly unheard of by MBB and tech companies…

  • maas

    @JohnByrne In all honesty I think you should update the metrics of the P&Q ranking. Have the US News rank weigh upwards of 50%. All these other shops are getting way too wild with all the yearly school changes and methodology used.

  • JB87

    LOL!!!! These rankings are a joke!! How can schools swing 20 spots from one year to the other. US News is the only “reliable” ranking out there. I guess all the sway in rankings helps sell magazines!

  • ojo

    Hmmm I am trying to decide between enrolling in Florida (Hough) and MIT Sloan, both next to each other in the rankings….. super tough choice

  • Why

    First, how significant a change can it really be? It’s Florida… Second, schools make significant strategic changes all the time, but most schools stay within a narrow band in the rankings. I find it hard to believe Florida can move 70 slots upward as a result of a “strategic change.”

  • Carol

    Ok, so either way…even if the P&Q allocation methodologies change slightly in HBS’s favor, Wharton can probably finish no more than ~2 slots behind HBS in BW and still win. Thus, even if HBS repeats with a #1 finish in BW, Wharton will more or less GUARENTEE a #1 P&Q 2017 finish by ranking #3 or better in BW. More likely, though, P&Q allocations will remain and Wharton can guarantee a win with a #4 BW ranking.

  • GuptaPrince

    With four of five rankings in for 2017, based on last year’s P&Q ranking methodology of 35% USN, 25% Forbes, 15% FT, and 10% Economist, it looks like the current results would be as follows:
    Current 2017 P&Q Standings:
    Wharton #1 (comp score of 1.45)
    HBS #2 (comp score of 2.00)
    Stanford #3 (comp score of 2.70)
    Kellogg #4 (comp score of 4.30)
    Booth #5 (comp score of 4.35)
    Of course, BusinessWeek will determine the final P&Q result in November, but if we assume the same BW results as 2016, then HBS would take #1 (2.15 comp score) for P&Q 2017, Wharton #2 (2.35 comp score), Stanford #3 (3.00 comp score), Booth #4 (4.95 comp score), and Kellogg #5 (5.65 comp score).
    However, for Wharton to take #1 overall, it can finish no more than 3 slots behind HBS (ex. HBS #1, Wharton #4) in BusinessWeek. For Wharton to hold off Stanford, it can finish no more than 8 slots behind Stanford in BusinessWeek.
    Again, this all assumes the same P&Q allocation as last year. We will see in 19 days.

  • Phillip

    They made significant strategic change back in 2012. Look into it.

  • Why

    How does Florida go from #90 to #20 in a matter of a few years? Ugh. ::Headdesk::