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What's the best MBA in the US?

Prodigy Finance - August 02, 2019

Best US MBA

If you’re just beginning your business school search, you’ll likely start with one of the MBA rankings. But with all the MBA rankings available, there’s always a question of which one best addresses the concerns of prospective applicants.

You could turn to:

  • The Economist
  • Financial Times
  • U.S. News & World Report
  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Forbes

Of that group, only the first two rank schools on a global level, rather than dividing them into US and non-US schools. Indeed, U.S. News and World Report only cover American programmes.

It’s worth noting that all of these rankings are linked to leading news agencies. While there can be little dispute of the data provided by each of these organisations, there are vast differences in the data collected and methods of analysing it.

What do the MBA rankings consider?

Most of the principal lists include MBA employment in some form, ranging from starting salaries to the length of time it takes students to accept a position post graduation. 

Forbes

The Forbes MBA rankings is a straight return on investment (ROI) calculation for alumni five years out of business school. 

Bloomberg Businessweek

The components of the score come from:

  • 45% - recent grad survey responses to questions about career services, teaching quality, critical thinking, leadership skills and the caliber of classmates.
  • 45% - corporate recruiter responses to the 20 MBA most targeted schools along with their perceptions on MBA quality and their experiences with MBA alumni from each school.
  • 10% - an "intellectual capital rating" based on professor publications with adjustment for faculty size. 

US News & World Report

The magazine uses a slightly more complicated algorithm weighting:

  • 25% - survey of deans and MBA directors (for proprietary school-supplied data)
  • 16% - student GMAT scores
  • 15% - survey of corporate recruiters
  • 14% - alumni starting salaries (and bonuses)
  • 8% - undergrad GPAs
  • 7% - alumni employment at graduation
  • 7% - alumni employment at 3 months after graduation
  • 1% - school acceptance rates

What are the best schools on the MBA rankings?

There are remarkably few differences in school rankings based on the different lists. In general, the best of the best business schools will always make the top 10, shifting one or two positions depending on the publication, and the methodology used for ranking.

1

2

1

2

1

2

3

3

3

3

5

7

6

7

6

6

8

4

Yale University - School of Management

  • New Haven, CT
  • Tuition: $69,500

9

11

13

10

15

14

10

18

12

12

19

5

12

13

21

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

  • Charlottesville, VA
  • Tuition: $64,782

12

9

11

17

12

18

17

13

33

19

22

17

21

16

30

24

20

35

32

25

19

Texas A&M University College Station - Mays Business School

  • College Station, TX
  • Tuition: $76,606 (total programme)

40

49

20

Can you use MBA rankings to choose MBA programmes?

As long as you’re not fussing over the actual placement on a list (there is often little difference between #6 and #11 on any list), reviewing the rankings are a terrific starting point for your school research and short listing.

School selection: more to consider

A school’s ranking on any list shouldn’t supersede your unique reasons for pursuing an MBA. You’ll need to do your own research – even if it starts with the MBA rank that measures the facets of business education which matter most to you.

Using MBA ROI for school selection

Given the cost of a top MBA, you may also want to consider your Return on Investment (ROI) while narrowing your school choices.

A basic ROI equation looks something like this: 

[Opportunity Cost] divided by [Amount of Salary Increase] = [Return on Investment]

Looks simple enough, but it’s impossible to work with absolute figures, so you’ll need to content yourself with estimates. oth opportunity cost and salary increases are rather difficult to gauge beforehand, but while working it out, you should factor in the following:

  • Opportunity cost: cost of tuition, cost of materials (tech, books, stationary), cost of living during this time and the cost of not working for a year or two.
  • Amount of salary increase: This is what you’ll expect to earn annually, less what you currently earn. And, all you can really do is take the median figures reported by your shortlisted business schools.

Given the work involved in calculating ROI, you might want to turn to MBA ROI ranking lists until you’ve really narrowed your list.

But, you’ll want to be careful here. That’s because schools top schools often have a terrible time on ROI scales. The higher a business school lands in the traditional rankings, the more likely it is to accept students that already have a higher salary. Take Harvard Business School as an example; its grads receive some of the highest salary offers, but given the reputation of the school, it attracts higher earners to begin with.

Using MBA specialisations to shortlist business schools

Keep in mind that highly-ranked schools and ROI are useful numbers, but if a programme doesn’t focus on an applicant’s career specialisation, there’s little point in considering that school.

Luckily, there are MBA ranking lists for that too. 

Above all, MBA applicants should remember that while the research may be helpful in narrowing choices, career goals and the programmes that make these a reality are more salient criteria for selecting potential business schools.

Already found your dream MBA?

Once you've figured out where you're going, it's time to figure out how you'll pay for your studies. Prodigy Finance can help with that. 


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