7) Those Ridiculous U.S. News Ties
Over the years, the methodology that U.S. News employs to rank the best full-time MBA programs has apparently lost its ability to more clearly differentiate one program for another. The proof of it? Just take a look at the incredibly large number of schools tied for the same rank. Een in the Top 20, you have Wharton and Stanford tied for first this year, defeating the need for a clear winner. Then, you have two schools tied for third: Kellogg and Chicago Booth which defeats the need for a champion in the Chicago metro area. And how about 12th place where you have a three-way tie among Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, and Michigan Ross.
In all, 13 of the top 25 schools are in deadlocked positions, while 34 of the top 50 share a rank with at least one if not three other schools. Four full-time MBA programs–Boston College, Boston University, UC-Davis, and the University of Utah–are all tied for a rank of 48th.
It gets worse. When you dip into the last half of the list, 39 of the schools are tied. There are another four MBA programs in a tie for 56th place, and another five programs tied at 62nd. The upshot: 74 of the 98 schools with actual numerical ranks share a position with another school. Yet, the most maddening result of all is the stub MBA programs that are all ranked “99-131.” In other words, U.S. News decided not to put any definite numerical ranks on these schools, merely putting a “99-131” badge on all those MBA programs.
On one hand, you might want to congratulate U.S. News for not artificially placing ranks on schools with nearly identical index scores. On the other hand, it’s disconcerting that a methodology with eight different metrics can lead to so little differentiation.
8) Pittsburgh On The Prowl
Five years ago, the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business ranked 55th according to U.S. News. Just two years ago, it had crawled up to 52nd. This year, Katz has cracked the Top 40 – and that comes after a nine spot jump the year before.
That’s solid momentum for a program that differentiates itself with “Katz Ready” graduates. By that, Katz means graduates who have honed their fundamentals through intensive hands-on project experience.
“We focus extensively on what we call experience-based learning (EBL), both in classes and in the co-curriculum,” explains Laura Oknefski, Katz’s director of MBA programs, in a 2019 interview with P&Q. “Through opportunities like Consulting Field Projects, case competitions, Management Simulation, Global Research Practicums, Six Sigma, and fall and spring professional development weeks, our students take foundational business theories and apply them in real-world contexts. In doing so, students are intentionally coached by faculty, staff, and Executives in Residence in how to not only make successful business decisions but also to approach teamwork and problem-solving in creative and collaborative ways.”
Recruiters have certainly taken note. In the U.S. News recruiter survey, Katz grads earned a 3.5 score – better than or tied with 14 programs ranked above the school. By the same token, Katz reported pay increasing by $7,000 and average GMAT scores rising by 12 points over the past year. According to Forbes, Katz graduates also experienced the biggest jump from pre-MBA pay in the world, giving them a return on investment that’s second-to-none. What’s more, this small school gem remains popular with applicants, with an acceptance rate that’s lower than 17 programs ranked above it.
Translation: Katz may be poised to take another step forward in the coming year – particularly as it doubles down on its strength in employer satisfaction. “We’ve integrated new professional development weeks into our fall and spring semesters,” adds Oknefski. “Each professional development week is a time when classes do not meet. Instead, the MBA program office along with the Career Management office provides a wide variety of professional development opportunities for students. These opportunities include Wall Street Prep, CAPM, diversity and inclusion workshops, time management seminars, and national conference attendance. We’ve made this change in order to help students balance their academic studies with special-topic professional development that we think will help to set them apart in their career search.”