Ten Biggest Surprises In Businessweek’s 2021 MBA Ranking

Sevin Yeltekin, a highly admired and respected senior associate dean at Tepper, become the first woman to lead Rochester’s Simon School of Business

6) Rochester On The Rise

Which business school has made the most significant move over the past year?

Simon says…The University of Rochester!

The Simon School came into its own in 2021. Long underrated, the program finally gained some real traction across the rankings this year. In the Financial Times, Rochester Simon jumped 16 spots to 60th worldwide. That came after moving up another seven places the year before. The school made even bigger headway with The Economist in January. It shifted from 57th to 32nd, a change abetted by several top programs opting out of participating in the ranking. 

However, the 2021 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking solidified Simon’s spot in an entirely new neighborhood. This month, the school cracked the Top 25. It wasn’t a big move…just four spots. However, it is the latest stop on a larger migration — one that took Simon from 45th just three years ago.

Here’s another way to look at it: If Simon was based in The Netherlands instead of New York, it’d rank as a Top 10 European program. 

Alas, Rochester Simon is a program whose lower rank never quite aligned with its rich capabilities. The Simon MBA follows along the data-driven, economics-laden approach popularized by Chicago Booth and Carnegie Mellon Tepper. The school even uses “unabashedly analytical” as its tagline. Over the years, Simon has perfected a FACt framework to prepare students to analytically break down issues, identify options, and persuasively convey solutions. The school also features one of the best pricing programs in the world. At the same time, Simon is an innovator. Notably, it was the first MBA program to devise a STEM designation across its concentrations. In the process, Simon delighted employers seeking more tech-savvy and scientific literate students. Better yet, the STEM designation enabled international students to extend their VISAs and work in the United States longer.  

When it comes to Bloomberg Businessweek, Rochester Simon rose because of consistency, topping out at 11th in Diversity. Higher pay didn’t hurt either, as Simon grads raked in $137K in Finance and $125K in Technology starting out according to Bloomberg Businessweek data.  Make no mistake: Simon grads are increasingly popular, as the school ranked 3rd worldwide for alumni pay increase based on The Economist’s data. 

With a curriculum increasingly aligned with employer demands, it’ll be hard to position Simon as the East Coast’s best-kept secret. What does Simon do for an encore? With Sevin Yeltekin just getting comfortable in the dean’s chair, you can bet that Rochester Simon is going to be a school to watch in the coming years. 

The MBA program at CEIBs in Shanghai, China,got the best ranking among Chinese schools from Businessweek

7) Asian School Stock Plummets in Businessweek Ranking

The Asian Century had finally started. That was the takeaway from this year’s Financial Times ranking. 

As China, India, and South Korea surged in economic might, you wondered if the prestige of their business schools to follow suit. And the Financial Times didn’t disappoint. 

China placed five MBA programs in the top third-thirds of the ranking, led by CEIBS’ reaching 7th — ahead of big names like Dartmouth and Oxford. You’ll also find five Indian schools within the Top 50, paced by the Indian School of Business at #23. Hong Kong and Singapore each produced three schools among the Top 60, with the National University of Singapore’s ranking sandwiched between NYU Stern and Cornell Johnson. South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University even cracked the Top 40, ahead of Indiana Kelley and Texas McCombs for that matter. 

An anomaly? You could argue that when compared to The Economist. Here, just four Asian business schools ranked in the Top 50 (not counting IIM Ahmedabad at #51). That makes Bloomberg Businessweek the tie-breaker on this question: Have Asian business schools built the educational quality, networking capabilities to compete with their counterparts in Europe and Asia? 

On the surface, the answer is a resounding no. 

On the plus side, CEIBS reigned as the top business school in the Asia-Pacific region (after being ignored by The Economist). On the negative side, the school index score only reached 36.7. Compare that to Europe, whose methodology uses the same weight. In Europe, CEIBS would rank as the 17th-best program according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Using the same scale, CEIBs would place 2nd in Canada (though the exclusion of Rotman and Ivey would require an asterisk here). That said, CEIBS’ score would drop it to 61st in the United States, where an 8.6% weight given to Diversity undercuts any true side-by-side comparison.

It gets worse, too.

Only two Asian programs — Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the National University of Singapore — produced index scores above 30. Individually, the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics managed to achieve index scores of 95.0 and 89.5 in Networking and Entrepreneurship respectively. These marks were undermined, however, by a 7.9 index in the all-important Compensation measure. In contrast, CEIBS avoided such swings, as scores ranged from a 36.9 low (Learning) to a 60.7 high (Networking). 

Where do Asian programs fall short? Well, Compensation is a big part of the puzzle. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) generated the highest pay in Asia. Their grads earned $97K in Finance and $77K in Tech. Compare that to an American program like Penn State Smeal. Their numbers: $115K in Finance and $126K in Tech. Big gap. That said, there is room for optimism. Take Learning, where the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics hit a 68.0, which would be good for 14th in the U.S. and 8th in Europe. 

In the end, Asian programs still lag behind the rest of the world, at least if you trust the Bloomberg Businessweek methodology. With The Economist ranking backing up the Asian fall off (to an extent), it may be time to hold back on the “Asian Century” plaudits for business education…at least for a couple more years. 

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