10 Biggest Surprises In The 2018 Bloomberg Businessweek MBA Ranking

Harvard Business School Rock Center for Entrepreneurship – Ethan Baron photo

7. Do the MBA programs at the University of Utah or Willamette University teach entrepreneurship better than Harvard, UCLA and Wharton?

One of the other big changes in the new Bloomberg Businessweek ranking is an attempt to measure a school’s ability to inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset in its students. In creating an ‘entrepreneurship’ index, the editors explained that “what was once a small slice of an MBA education has spread throughout business school programs. Students now see entrepreneurship as central to their overall training, whether they want to start their own businesses or work at the world’s biggest banks.”

In other words, this is much more than an effort to count startups launched by graduation or shortly thereafter. Instead, it’s an effort to measure how well schools imprint entrepreneurial thinking on their students. Not surprisingly, the school at the top is Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. It’s no coincidence that Stanford boasts the highest percentage of MBAs who launch startups in school. Some 16% of last year’s class–63 of the 392 graduates–started a new business.

On Poets&Quants’ 2018 annual ranking of the Top MBA Startups, Stanford had 27 of the top 100 companies launched by MBA entrepreneurs with the most investment capital. Harvard Business School, by the way, was second with 26 on the list. And in four of the past five years,  more than half of all the MBA startups to make the list were founded by graduates from Harvard Business School or Stanford’s GSB.

Based on these facts alone, it would make great sense if HBS were right alongside Stanford on this new index. Instead, HBS doesn’t even make the top 10, just missing it by coming in at 11th place behind Utah, UT-Dallas, Willamette and Colorado, schools that have never had an MBA startup make the top 100. This doesn’t mean they don’t do a good job in entrepreneurship. But it also doesn’t mean those programs do a better job than Harvard. We call that one very big surprise.

But it’s not only Harvard, whose second largest faculty group now teach entrepreneurship courses, that gets short shrift here. No less astounding, Wharton—whose MBAs have launched such highly successful entrepreneurial ventures as Warby Parker and Commonbond, ranks 27th with a score of 61.1—25 places and more than 20 points below Utah.

MBA graduate from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business

8. When it comes to having a tight alumni network, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business is hard to beat. So why does Bloomberg Businessweek rank the school 25th in ‘networking?’

By now, you’ll think we are nitpicking the the results of the new index part of the Bloomberg Businessweek ranking–and we are. As we pointed out earlier, the four indexes are the foundation of this new ranking and clearly that foundation is pretty shaky. The networking index is yet another example, even though the top ten schools in this category appear to make more sense. Stanford sits at the top, followed by Wharton, Harvard, Columbia, and MIT Sloan. All of the M7 are solidly represented.

There’s just the glaring absence of the Tuck School of Business which comes in at a rank of 25th and a score of 73.2. For an alternative point of view, just check out The Economist‘s annual survey of current MBA students and recent alumni who are asked to judge the “effectiveness” of their school’s alumni on a scale of 1 (Poor) to 5 (Excellent). In doing so, The Economist is able to measure, to an extent, how engaged school alumni were in mentoring and helping with job searches. Last year, Tuck was second, only to Michigan Ross, which came in 16th on Businessweek‘s ‘networking’ metric.

Truth is, no other school can beat Tuck on alumni support. The participation rate of its annual giving campaign exceeds 70%, the highest level of support for any business school in the world. At most top business schools, annual alumni giving hovers around the 20% to 25% rate. The alumni giving rate is often a proxy for the loyalty and strength of a school’s alumni network. Tuck has long been known for having one of the most responsive MBA alumni of any of the top business schools, partly because of the tight-knit bonds formed among students in a relatively small MBA program in Hanover, N.H.

So how could Tuck end up behind schools that have nowhere near the record participation rate of the school or the high scores it consistently archives in The Economist survey? We’ll come back to our earlier complaint: Greater cheerleading by students and grads of other programs, poor sample sizes, and/or poorly formulated questions that result in answers that lack differentiation. In any case, Tuck’s comparatively weak networking score contributed it’s surprisingly lackluster result in this ranking: the school tumbled a dozen places to 19th from seventh last year.

Matt Slaughter, dean of the Tuck School, has a diplomatic response to all this. “The new ranking methodology utilized by Bloomberg is complex indeed,” he tells Poets&Quants. “While rankings can be noisy and vary greatly from year to year, we at Tuck always value feedback as learning to help make Tuck stronger. To that end, I will mention that we are nearing the completion of a comprehensive core curriculum review, which has already led to exciting enhancements in our first-year programming this current year, and we look forward to sharing more vibrant refinements soon.”

“Tuck belongs among the top full-time MBA programs in the world. Our distinctly immersive and trust-based learning community, talented students and scholar-educator faculty, and extraordinarily loyal and generous network of alumni have long distinguished our MBA program and are key to advancing our mission of educating tomorrow’s wise leaders.” We couldn’t agree more.


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