Rankings are big business. They grab attention and generate page views. Higher rankings turn deans into dignitaries and graduates into gurus. They make it easier for administrators to demand more resources and alumni to dig deeper into their pockets.
What could possibly threaten this cash cow?
Oh, how about a pandemic?
WHAT ARE MBA PROGRAMS AFRAID OF?
Quickly enough, the dominos began to fall. In May, Bloomberg Businessweek decided to suspend its annual ranking, focusing instead of collecting responses to student surveys. The Economist faces a different challenge: Every M7 American MBA program is boycotting its ranking. As a result, the ranking will carry far less credibility – with the publication date already pushed back into 2021. The rankings for The Financial Times and U.S. News & World Report are still expected to come out in January and March respectively. Problem is, no one is certain if top schools will shun them too.
You can almost picture the editors at Forbes, whose bi-annual ranking runs in odd numbered years, toasting their good fortune to avoid 2020.
You can’t blame business schools for being wary of rankings in a pandemic period. Not only do rankings provide a side-by-side comparison to peers, but also a look into historical performance. While business schools crave upward mobility, they are also comforted by brand consistency and consensus. In 2020, all bets are off on both.
That’s because 2020 differences may reflect a variable that cannot be easily manipulated: a school’s ability to respond and innovate in the face of disruption and uncertainty.
A LOOK AT OVER 50 RANKINGS
Still, there were plenty of rankings that refer to in 2020. Last January, Harvard Business School replaced Stanford GSB as the top business school in the world according to The Financial Times. Two months later, HBS dropped out of U.S. News’ Top 5. To add insult to injury, HBS didn’t even rank as the top MBA program in Boston! This fall, P&Q unveiled its exclusive, data-driven rankings for online MBA and entrepreneurship programs, where Carnegie Mellon and Washington University earned top honors. That doesn’t even count alumni and recruiter preferences, let alone survey results on test prep companies, and academic concentrations.
Of course, there is P&Q’s annual MBA ranking. Now in its 11th year, this list combines the top five MBA rankings to level off any inconsistencies and excesses. Wondering how your target schools performed? Here are over 50 stories to give you an idea where MBA programs stand…and where they are going.
POETS & QUANTS
U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
Next Page: Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, The Economist, Online MBAs, Executive MBAs, and More!