Do MBA Rankings Really Matter? |

Do MBA Rankings Really Matter?

By Ryan Hickey

Updated Updated

Choosing an MBA program can be challenging as there are a myriad of factors to consider. There are several organizations - such as the Economist, Financial Times, Businessweek and, of course, - that rank MBA programs using a variety of metrics. Schools might be assessed by recruiters and academics who rate each school based on personal experience and knowledge. Data points, such as average GMAT or GRE scores, average starting salaries for graduates and employment rates are among the other factors examined. Yet even though two organizations might use similar metrics, each one comes up with a different list and, therefore, with different top business schools. This begs the question: Do MBA rankings provide useful information for prospective students or do they simply confuse the issue? 

How much do MBA rankings matter?

The simple answer to this question is that MBA rankings do matter. The top business schools will tend to be those that rank consistently towards the top of the list and deserve to be there. Meanwhile, among prospective employers, there is a perceived value in hiring a new employee who graduated from one of the higher-ranking schools.

With this in mind, it can be tempting to choose a school based purely upon its ranking. This can be a mistake, as just because the school ranks high on a list of top business schools, it doesn't mean that it's the best school for you. A school’s MBA ranking is a factor you can use to make your decision, but it shouldn't be the only factor.

Ranked where?

At the end of the day, a school ranked first and a school ranked fifth may not really vary that much in quality. If MBA rankings are important to you, it may be more important to find out how many times a school has repeatedly been named among the top business schools than to see exactly where it is in on one individual list.

In addition, different MBA rankings look at different qualities of prospective schools. Some may focus on student satisfaction. Others may look at test results or post-graduation employment rates and salaries. When looking at rankings, it's important to know what exactly is being ‘ranked’. This can help you determine which ranking might be the most important to you.

You've seen the MBA rankings, now what do you want?

It must be stressed that MBA rankings are only one tool designed to help you make your decision as to which MBA program makes the most sense for you. It is certainly not the only tool and it probably isn't even the most important. While a ranking may help you determine how a school performs overall, it's important to consider your own personal goals. How are you planning to use your MBA degree? What is your budget like? Is location important to you? All of these questions are very important and none of them can be answered fully by a ranking.

Don't let MBA rankings replace your own investigation. Certainly, they should not overshadow what you have learned from researching the school, talking to recruiters or the staff and students at the school in question. Rankings aside, the school must be a fit for you, your goals, and your personality. Use all of the resources at your disposal, including rankings to help determine the best program for you.

This article was first published in November 2016 and most recently updated in November 2019

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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