Of all the MBA lists out there, the Princeton Review MBA ranking has to be among the most mysterious. The methodology is incredibly vague, the test prep company assigns rankings to only the top ten schools in 18 different categories from the best professors to the best family-friendly schools. Many of the findings are bonkers, including the fact that this year Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management is No. 1 for having the best campus environment, while Stanford’s Graduate School of Business fails to even make the Top Ten. And to cap it all off, Princeton Review does no overall ranking of the best MBA programs.
Nonetheless, the company does survey lots of students and the results can often make for compelling, if not entertaining, reading. For one thing, this is no typical M7 list. In fact, the M7 schools tend not to fare very well in the rankings. That allows other MBA programs that often get overlooked by the best and brightest applicants to shine. For another, users can isolate categories that are most important to them. Example: If you’re interested in going to a school with the best professors, the Princeton Review’s student surveys identify the ten best places to experience professors who are as interested or more interested in teaching than in their esoteric research. Or if you’re keen on going to one of the best schools for a consulting career, Princeton Review names the Top Ten schools for that profession.
So in the interests of creating an overall ranking from the Princeton Review data dump, we’ve selected the ten most important categories measured by the Princeton Review and then added up the schools that appear most often in the Top Ten. The winner? The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business can be found in nine of the Top Ten categories followed by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business which both make eight of the ten categories (see below table).
HARVARD AND STANFORD MAKE THE TOP TEN OF THE PRINCETON REVIEW MBA RANKING BUT TRAIL THREE SCHOOLS
Harvard and Stanford make the list but fall below UVA, Michigan, and Duke. Harvard lands in fourth place, checking the boxes on six of the ten selected categories. Stanford is in fifth place, tied with two other schools, having made it on half of the Top Ten categories. We focused on the following category rankings:best professors, best classroom experience, best campus environment, best career prospects, best family friendly, best administration, best for consulting, best for finance, best for marketing, and best for management
There's another way to look at these lists, of course. One is to simply average the rankings over the Top Ten categories to see how that impacts where the schools fall. By giving points to each achieved rank, we came up with a list of 20 business school MBA programs that reflects each program's full standing across the ten key metrics. UVA Darden again led the bunch, followed by Michigan, Duke, Stanford and Cornell. Making this Top 20 list as well were Vanderbilt, Rice, Indiana, Texas, Florida, and Washington (see below).
COUNTING WHAT REALLY MATTERS IN THE PRINCETON REVIEW MBA RANKING
And finally, we dig into what we consider the four most important categories to an excellent MBA experience: best professors, best classroom experience, best campus environment, and best career prospects. Those four data points really get at what the truly best MBA programs are all about. You want to be inspired by the best MBA teaching faculty in the world; you want them to bring alive ideas and insights in a fully participating classroom; you want to have a welcoming and attactive campus environment, and you want to make sure the program delivers the career outcomes that are important to you.
Only 13 MBA programs rank in at least two of those four categories. Again leading the pack is the Darden School of Business, followed by Duke Fuqua, Cornell Johnson, Michigan Ross, and UNC Kenan-Flagler (see below). For scoring purposes, we awarded a program in first place 100 points and a program in second place 99 points, and so on. We then totaled up the point scores and created an index based on those sums to come up with our list of the top MBA programs. A school had to rank in at least two of the four measured categories to land on our list. Only 13 made it.
Not on the list were most of the M7 schools: Wharton, Chicago Booth, Columbia, Northwestern Kellogg, and MIT Sloan. That finding may not be all that surprising considering that business schools, in their effort to gain academic credibility, consider scholarly research by the faculty as far more important than the quality of the student experience. The weight given to research at most business schools far outweighs the importance of teaching quality and classroom experience. This list of MBA programs, then, reflects the core elements of a truly superb MBA experience.
DON'T MISS: MBA RANKING: BUSINESS SCHOOL CAREERS, CLTURE & CURRICULUM
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