One thing many MBA applicants take into account when choosing an MBA program is the ranking of MBA programs, either in a specific country, such as the US, or worldwide. Several reputable organizations rank MBA programs these days, using a number of criterions. Some of the more esteemed MBA rankings are done by The Economist, Businessweek and the Financial Times but there are plenty of other organizations doing the same as well. ARINGO has recently introduced its combined ranking table comparing the top 5 rankings across the top MBA programs.
Should MBA rankings matter to applicants or are they just making the issue of school selection more complicated?
We at ARINGO believe that MBA Rankings definitely matter, to an extent. The MBA rankings should never be used as the sole criteria of your school selection. We advise our candidates to factor the ranking, but also the ranking factors. Does it really matter to you if the average salary post-MBA is $158,000 or $159,000? Or if the female student percent is 35% or 33% (both are obviously too low!). On the other hand, you might be interested in the amount of international students (which varies substantially between the US and European top MBA programs). In addition, when looking at the ranking tables when you are applying to a top MBA program, you might want to take into account these factors
- There is a reason some schools are ranked high and some are not ranked at all. The business schools that rank at the very top of these rankings are there for a reason, meaning they are usually in a league of their own and end up at the top of the list year after year. These schools usually attract the best candidates, create a buzz for employers and are usually the richest in terms of resources.
- Prospective employers are often well-acquainted with the rankings and with certain brands and often prefer to hire new employees who graduated from the high ranking schools, when possible. However, keep in mind that most of the rankings are general. You will probably want to focus on your industry and check out academic specializations as well as job positons and employers for each program regardless of its ranking. Specific job opportunities may depend on your industry and expertise, and on a specific specialization a certain business school may have, regardless of the MBA ranking In this case, we suggest that applicants check out some more industry specific MBA ranking parameters.
- The points above also mean that you can expect a different ROI (return on investment) on an MBA from the different schools, depending on their tuition fees, chance of scholarship, cost of living and of course the job you will land post your degree
Why MBA rankings should not be the only factor in your consideration when choosing an MBA program?
Rankings of course do not take into account any of your personal preferences or goals. For some applicants, location is important, and the same goes for budget, scholarships, culture or alumni network and whatever your personal priorities are, rankings will not be able to emphasize them enough. If you are travelling with a partner, visas might be your key criteria.
Therefore, you should never use ranking as an excuse not do your own homework on the things that matter to you. MBA rankings can be a very valuable tool if combined with other types of research on different MBA programs but should never be looked at separately.