Education for the higher educated
Published on: 28 October 2013
Function: Editors
Organisatie: The Official Master Guide International Executive Edition

A note on rankings

The questionnaire parts of students, alumni, recruiters and school staff are of a considerable subjective nature when it comes to MBA rankings.

How valuable are rankings when you are looking for a business school? A high ranked school on your curriculum vitae may look impressive to future employers but does that necessarily mean it is also the best school, or, more specifically, the school that best connects to your own educational needs and career wishes?

A lot of organizations and leading magazines publish their own ranking lists. Acquiring a high ranking certainly has become quite a matter of prestige for business schools. And getting admitted to a high ranked school has become an important matter for a lot of students too.

Firstly, what is a ranking list exactly? And how are they composed? Business school rankings compare individual schools with each other according to a varying set of factors, like alumni salary, national or ethnical diversity, quality of research, and so forth. Every list uses its own standards and methodology. The result is that a school's high ranking does not has to be equivalent to a high educational level or quality. Two of the most influential rankings are those of The Financial Times and The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The Financial Times

The European business schools ranking is a combined ranking of European business schools based on their results in the four other Financial Times rankings published in 2012; full time MBA, executive MBA, masters in management and non-degree executive education programs. The master in finance rankings are not included. This European ranking measures both the quality and breadth of programs offered by European schools. The school performance is calculated by equally weighting the four separate rankings.

There are some differences in the criteria used to compile the different rankings. For example, the MBA and EMBA tables measure the amount of research undertaken by faculty members at each school, whereas the European masters in management and executive education rankings do not. Another important difference is that the EMBA, MBA and European masters in management rankings include alumni salary data, whereas the executive education rankings do not. All criteria used can be viewed at:

You can find the complete Financial Times rankingslist on:

┬ęThe Financial Times Limited 2013

The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist ranking of full-time MBA programmes was based on an initial selection of 135 leading business schools around the world. To qualify for inclusion in the ranking, the schools that responded to our survey had to meet various thresholds of data provision, as well as attaining a minimum number of responses to a survey gauging the opinion of current students and alumni who graduated within the last three years.

Data were collected during spring 2012 using two web-based questionnaires, one for business schools and one for students and recent graduates. Schools distributed the web address of the latter questionnaire to their own students and graduates. A total of 15,550 students and graduates participated. All data received from schools were subject to verification checks, including, where possible, comparison with historical data, peer schools and other published sources. Student and graduate questionnaires were audited for multiple or false entries.

On you can find the ranking and the measures used to calculate the rankings together with their respective weightings.



As we can see, each ranking list uses a different set of factors to compare schools with. Especially the questionnaire parts of students, alumni, recruiters and school staff are of a considerable subjective nature. MBA's are programs of a highly functional nature. Most students wish to pursue an MBA not because of the intellectual and academic satisfaction and growth it may bring them but because it furthers their professional careers. A good measure therefore seems to be the career prospects a school succeeds in securing for its students. This is usually measured in salary increase. It seems a useful category to consider when you are looking for a school but do remember that it has its limitations as well. It does not for example distinguish between a school's Finance students and their future careers, and for example Human Resource students.

Compiling ranking lists is certainly not a matter of 'hard science' and it would be wise not to value them too highly. Consulting them, especially if you are looking for a full time MBA, can be very useful, but they should not be the sole determinant in your choice.