Corporate Recruiters Rate The Brand Value Of Specific B-Schools

When Bloomberg Businessweek cranked out its latest ranking of full-time MBA programs last year, the magazine’s lineup was informed by completed surveys from 3,698 employers who recruit MBA graduates. Typically, Businessweek doesn’t share the full results of those recruiter surveys but today (March 6) released a new set of findings from them.

The magazine made public recruiter responses on a half dozen survey questions, including which schools’ brand value gives graduates a big advantage in their careers, which schools produce the most innovative and creative graduates, and which provide the most diverse pool of quality candidates.

The answers to those questions and others are often surprising if not shocking. Harvard, Stanford and Wharton—often thought of as having the three best full-time MBA programs on the planet—get less respect from corporate recruiters than you might expect. In each category, Businessweek published data on the top scoring 30 business schools.


When asked, for example, which school’s graduates are “better trained than grads from other schools,” Harvard, Stanford and Wharton failed to make the top five. Instead, Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business were tied for first, with a score of 4.17 on a five-point scale, with five reflecting the highest grade possible. Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business was third, scoring 4.10, while the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Yale University’s School of Management were tied for fourth place, with a score of 4.01. Stanford ranked 21st, while Harvard languished in 28th place.

International MBA programs fared especially well in producing the most diverse pool of qualified MBA candidates, according to the recruiters. Non-U.S. programs took three of the top five places in this category after Yale topped the list. Carnegie Mellon tied with INSEAD for second, while IESE Business School in Spain was fourth and IMD in Switzerland took fifth place. Stanford managed to finish 16th, while HBS tied for 24th with Wharton and Vanderbilt.

The big brands, of course, did much better when recruiters were asked by Businessweek to score the value of a school’s brand. Recruiters put Stanford at the top of the list, with the highest average score of any category, a 4.69. The GSB was followed by Harvard and Wharton. But even here there were big surprises. Georgetown’s McDonough School finished fourth, while MIT Sloan was fifth. INSEAD and Yale tied for sixth place, followed by IMD, Columbia and Chicago Booth.


It’s important to keep in mind one major flaw in Businessweek‘s approach to surveying recruiters. The magazine now surveys everyone who comes to a major business school campus to recruit students, even though many of those recruiters only recruit from their alma maters. Up to a third of the recruiters on the lists a school submits to Businessweek can be alums. So many of them don’t even have direct experience across a number of schools to make truly informed assessments on other MBA programs in the survey.

That flaw results in a bias in favor of their own institutions. So the responses may very well measure in some part the loyalty of a network of alumni completing the survey. Georgetown’s surprisingly strong finish in each of the six categories would seem to suggest that bias. Nevertheless, the overall responses do provide some valuable insights for both applicants and administrators.

While some cynics may question the creativity of MBA graduates, recruiters were also asked to rate MBA graduates from specific schools on their innovative and creative skills. Guess which business school came out dead last among the 30 schools for which scores were shared? Harvard Business School tied with Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business in 29th place. Harvard’s archrival on the West Coast, Stanford, topped the category. Yale, Georgetown, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon rounded out the top five.


Finally, Bloomberg Businessweek revealed the results of two survey questions on entrepreneurship. One asked recruiters to judge the reputation of schools in the field, while the other question asked for an assessment of the quality of entrepreneurship skills in MBA graduates.

When it came to reputation, Stanford Graduate School of Business came out first, with the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business second, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business third, Georgetown fourth and Rice University fifth.

Yet when asked the question about the entrepreneurial skills found in MBA graduates, the deck was slightly reshuffled. Stanford still came out first but Berkeley was second, with Carnegie Mellon and Georgetown tied for third. The University of Washington came in fifth.

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