Amidst mounting criticism over university and college rankings, Bloomberg Businessweek yesterday published its 2022 ranking of full-time MBA programs with Stanford Graduate School of Business on top for the fourth consecutive time. Despite that familiar outcome, this controversial list has no shortage of surprises and shocks.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, ranked a lowly ninth last year, improved but only managed to place seventh in this ranking. UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business slipped out of the Top Ten, falling to 14th from seventh last year. Last year, Cornell Johnson plummeted from 11th to 20th but now boomeranged back to rank 11th best in the U.S. Georgia Tech cracked the Top 20 at #18, from a rank of 29th last year. Washington University’s Olin Business School, which was not ranked last year, jumped 17 spots to finish in 21st place from the last time it was ranked by Businessweek.
After Stanford, the Top Ten play out this way: Chicago Booth and Harvard Business School are in a dead tie for second place, followed by Northwestern Kellogg in fourth and Dartmouth Tuck in fifth. MIT Sloan captured sixth place, ahead of No. 7 Wharton, No. 8 Columbia, No. 9 Virginia Darden, and No. 10 Yale School of Management (see below table).
BUSINESSWEEK WAS MUM ON THE LINGERING CONTROVERSY OVER THE VALIDITY OF ITS MBA RANKING
In all, 117 MBA programs were given numerical ranks. IMD, the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, once again was tops in Europe. Shanghai University of Finance and Economics topped the list of Asia-Pacific schools, and Western University’s Ivey Business School ranked first in Canada.
In publishing what is the magazine’s 21st MBA ranking dating back to its origin in 1988, Businessweek made no mention of the controversy over last year’s list when a prominent academic questioned the validity of its ranking (see Did Businessweek Botch Its Latest MBA Ranking?). Yale School of Management Deputy Dean Anjani Jain had uncovered major errors in the ranking. Using the magazine’s reported scores for each school, he found that the ranks for MBA programs were “egregiously off-kilter when compared to the published ranking.” The recalculation by Jain would have changed the positions of 23 of the Top 25 business schools. Businessweek, however, stood by its ranking and in publishing the 2022 update failed to address Jain’s criticism at all.
This new list is not likely to silence ranking critics, particularly because of the wild year-over-year swings that demonstrate the inherent flaws of Businessweek‘s methodology. Among the more questionable conclusions, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School was ranked 25th, down from 19th last year. Georgetown fell nine places to 26th, from 17th; Florida dropped 11 spots to 38th from 27th; Maryland plunged to 36th from 28th, and Arizona State vaulted all the way to 32nd from 55th. American University in D.C. climbed all the way to 47th from 70th, an improvement Dean David Marchick attributed to invesments made in experiential learning, pro-bono coops and sustainability management and analytics.
IS HULT BUSINESS SCHOOL BETTER THAN WHARTON WHEN IT COMES TO THE MBA CURRICULUM?
In cranking out this year's ranking, Businessweek made slight, largely inconsequential, changes to the weights it applies to the five core metrics used to measure the quality of MBA education. The magazine ranks programs on compensation, learning, networking, entrepreneurship and diversity, on the basis of 18,504 surveys from students, alumni, and recruiters, as well as compensation and employment data from each school. This year, Businessweek surveyed 6,422 students, 11,304 alumni, and 778 employers (even though there are probably no more than 50 companies that essentially make the MBA market and have a legitimate basis from which to compare one program with another). Businessweek puts the most weight on compensation which accounts for 37.4% of the ranking, followed by learning (25.5%), entrepreneurship (17.4%), networking (11.6%), and diversity (8.0%).
One of the glaring issues with the methodology has to do with surveys of students and alumni who know their responses will be used to rank their alma maters. Getting honest opinions from those so heavily invested in their MBA education is difficult if not impossible today. One obvious example: On the magazine's "learning" index, Hult Business School, placing 22nd on this dimension, ranks higher than Chicago Booth (29), MIT Sloan (29) Columbia (39); Duke (48), Berkeley (59), Michigan (61), NYU Stern (64), Wharton (71), and UCLA (72). Wharton's score for "learning" is 83.0 vs. Hult's 87.6, a difference of 4.6 points that accounts for a rank difference of 49 places. Would anyone pass up Wharton, or any of the other named schools, to go to Hult? Of course not.
Other odd results accrue from misjudgments by the journalists who put together the methodology to rank schools. Consider, for example, the magazine's efforts to measure diveristy and include it in the ranking. According to Businessweeek, the highest ranked school on diversity is Howard University's Business School. In truth, it may well have the last diverse MBA program of any school in the world based on race and geography. If Businessweek's intent was to rank on under-represented minorities, Howard should come out on top. But on having a truly diverse student body?