If you’re thinking about applying to an MBA program, you can learn a lot from business school rankings. By learning about the different programs, you can focus on applying to those that best fit your needs.
Business schools are ranked every year, just as with most academic institutions. While there are rarely huge changes from year to year, schools are always shifting by a position or two. In addition, rankings come from multiple sources. For business schools, three of the most popular rankings come from U.S. News, Businessweek, and the Financial Times.
Because rankings come from multiple sources, there are differences in the various lists. In the most recent business school rankings, Harvard Business School, London Business School, Booth at the University of Chicago, and INSEAD all claim the top spot on at least one major list. Why is this? It’s because each organization creates its rankings differently. What one considers important might be virtually ignored by another. Some lists consider only U.S. schools, while others look at programs around the world.
For applicants, an important thing to consider about rankings is that each program is unique. While they are all technically business schools, different ones specialize in different fields. For example, Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania is known for its finance program, while Harvard Business School is known for its management program. Because of this, you should know which field you want to study before looking at rankings. Otherwise, you might look at the wrong list.
One of the things considered by most business school rankings is the average salary of graduates. Basically, schools whose graduates go on to make large salaries do better in the rankings. This means that lists of this type for business schools not only rate the education itself, but also the professional success of graduates.
Before diving into the various charts and lists, make sure to prepare with these three simple tips.
1. Know what you want to study
Different schools have different strengths. You will have the best chance of finding a good match if you focus on rankings for a distinct program or specialty.
2. Look at multiple rankings
There are lots of different rankings out there, and those rankings are updated each year. Look at lists from different organizations to get a solid overview. Look at lists from past years to spot changes over time.
3. Learn what rankings consider
Business school rankings are very complex. Take time to figure out how each organization ranks the different schools. You might not agree with what they think is important. Make sure to align the list priorities with your own.