Global MBA Rankings 2018 - QS vs The Economist |

Global MBA Rankings 2018 - QS vs The Economist

By Phil Cottrell

Updated February 2, 2018 Updated February 2, 2018

The QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 represent the most-evolved MBA rankings we’ve ever complied. Our carefully-honed methodology enables us to provide a snapshot of the current global MBA market, one that we believe is both accurate and comprehensive.

However, we understand the danger of using one single ranking to determine the full picture of an MBA program, or a business school in general. As such, it can be a useful exercise to use the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 in combination with other established rankings on the market, such as The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017.

It is vital that the methodologies behind each set of rankings are understood, so business schools, and the programs that they offer, can be matched to your individual requirements.


How do the QS Global MBA Rankings compare with The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017?

RankQS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2018The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017
1)Harvard Business SchoolNorthwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
2)INSEADUniversity of Chicago – Booth School of Business
3)HEC ParisHarvard Business School
4)Stanford Graduate School of BusinessUPenn Wharton
5)London Business SchoolStanford Graduate School of Business
6)UPenn Wharton UCLA – UCLA Anderson School of Management
7)MIT Sloan University of California at Berkeley – Haas School of Business
8)Columbia Business SchoolDartmouth College – Tuck School of Business
9)Oxford Saïd Business SchoolColumbia Business School
10)IE Business SchoolUniversity of Virginia – Darden School of Business


Whereas the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 include five business schools in Europe within the top 10, the top 10 of the Economist’s Which MBA? is completely dominated by US business schools.

In fact, the first non-US entrant is HEC Paris (15th down from 9th in 2016), closely followed by The University of Queensland Business School (16th down from 10th), IESE Business School (17th down from 8th) and Warwick Business School (18th up from 20th).

While Northwestern tops The Economist’s ranking, continuing its rise up the list in recent years, from 23rd in 2013 to the top spot this year, it only places 14th on the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018.

The Wharton School further highlights the rollercoaster nature of The Economist’s rankings (up eight places from last year, to 4th). However, it also caps a positive year for The Wharton School on the whole. As well as comfortably sitting within our own top 10 (in 6th), the school also registered strong performances in the other established rankings this year – 3rd in the FT Global MBA Rankings 2017, 2nd in the Bloomberg Businessweek US MBA Ranking, and equal 1st in the US News & World Report Rankings 2018.

Of the top 10 business schools in our Global MBA Rankings 2018, only four also appear in The Economist’s top 10 list. These differences further highlight the need to understand the methodologies behind each ranking, as the schools are ranked on very different criteria, as detailed below.


How does the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 methodology compare with The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017?

Weighting CategoryQS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2018The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017
Academic opinion10% 
Admissions selectivity 8.75% 
Alumni opinion  
Alumni outcomes10% 
Business school leader opinion  
Career progress 10.5%
Career services rating 14%
Employer opinion35% 
Employment rate5%10.5%
Entrepreneurship 5% 
Faculty quality 8.75%
Gender parity5%2.625%
Network 10% 
Return on investment20% 
Salary 20%
Student/ recent graduate opinion  6.125%

Learn more about the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 methodology.


What do The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017 concentrate on?

QS CEO, Nunzio Quacquarelli, highlights the many criteria that are taken into account. The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017, “Provide a broad range of variables many of which have a very low correlation.” This can be seen as one of the major strengths of the rankings, but as we will come onto soon, also one of its major weaknesses.

The Economist’s Rankings look at 143 full-time MBA programs and rank the top 100 from across the globe. In comparison, the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 analyzes over 250 programs, with 232 ranked.

Below you can see that the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 also provide greater geographical coverage:

Find out how the geographical spread differs between the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 and The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017


The Economist’s Rankings are ideal for those looking to build a strong network and ensure that the career services they will receive will be first-class. While the FT Global MBA Rankings 2017 (find out more in our FT comparison) pay lip service to career services rating (2%), The Economist decide to place a significantly higher emphasis (14%) on the indicator. In addition, they are the only major global rankings provider that includes a network indicator (10%).


What are the negatives of the Economist Rankings?

When looking at year-on-year position changes in a ranking (especially one where the methodology remains consistent), it is often confusing and concerning if wild swings occur. While programs will improve, sometimes quite dramatically, The Economist’s rankings see an average ranking position change of +/- 7.0 this year.

As Quacquarelli says, “The low correlation between variables means that the results can sometimes vary wildly each year and are often not very intuitive.”

This suggests more about the consistency and quality of data used, than the change in program quality itself.

Another issue with The Economist’s rankings is their reliance on student surveys. While it can be argued that students’ opinion of a school can indeed be valuable, it also has its issues. Students fully understand that their responses will be used for the rankings and there is often a temptation to overstate in order to boost their school’s score.


How the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 and The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Rankings 2017 can work in harmony:

It is hardly surprising that there are a number of discrepancies between the two rankings when you look at the different criteria that are included.

That doesn’t mean one ranking is right, while one is wrong. It merely serves to enhance the need for more rankings, to allow people to compare, contrast, and combine to understand which school is the perfect match. 

This article was originally published in November 2017 . It was last updated in February 2018

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Written by

Phil is the editor of and has a breadth of editorial and digital marketing experience. He has worked across a variety of industries from e-commerce and commercial real estate to managing all content for a C-suite careers site aimed at UK and US professionals.

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