Coming Soon: QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2018 |

Coming Soon: QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2018

By Phil Cottrell

Updated November 16, 2017 Updated November 16, 2017

Some would argue the world doesn’t need another set of MBA rankings. We, however, believe that QS’s insights into both rankings and the business education market mean we have something valuable to add to the discussion. We asked CEO, Nunzio Quacquarelli (as seen in the video below), and head of the QS Intelligence Unit, Ben Sowter, why the upcoming QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 and the QS Business Masters Rankings 2018 matter, and how they can be of value to prospective MBA candidates.


These rankings represent the first time QS have decided to release global rankings for these programs (MBA, masters in finance, masters in management, masters in business analytics). Why now? 

Nunzio: QS has been connecting applicants with business schools for over 20 years. Although the full-time MBA remains the flagship program for many schools, business masters programs are now equally popular, and in some countries more popular than the full-time MBA. It makes sense for QS to provide these rankings side-by-side and allow candidates to compare and contrast.

QS attracts over 220,000 prospective business masters and MBA candidates to their QS World Grad School Tour and QS World MBA Tour every year. In 2016, the number of business masters candidates exceeded MBA candidates for the first time. These rankings are a direct response to the rapid growth in demand for business masters around the world, and also to the high demand from employers for business analytics graduates.

Ben: QS takes its responsibilities seriously. Whilst rankings are not everything, they are used to inform major life decisions. As such QS resists the temptation to produce rankings that just add to the noise, or slice and dice existing data in a different way. We seek a distinctive and meaningful angle before coming out of the gate. Our employer survey has been, and remains, one such angle, but here a vast project examining the education history of business leaders and key influencers has also come to bear, enabling us to produce a new lens on business education.

What sets these rankings apart from others available? Why has QS chosen this year to produce a more evolved version of the MBA rankings?

Nunzio: QS has evaluated over 350 business schools in over 50 countries, and QS’s unique methodology has been reviewed by the QS Academic Advisory Board. Board member, Paul Thurman, professor of strategic management and data analysis at Columbia University, says “I like the emphasis QS is placing on employers and the needs of entrepreneurs – more and more people today take an MBA to start their own business.”

This year many new metrics have been added (previous MBA rankings were based on two indicators: employer and academic opinion). We believe this helps provide deep insight for candidates seeking to start their own business, or looking for strong employability outcomes with the most active MBA and masters employers around the world.

I am particularly excited by the ‘entrepreneurship and alumni outcomes’ indicator. This looks at founders, CEOS and directors/partners of the world’s most successful companies – over 49,000 of the most successful alumni of business schools contribute to this metric.

In addition, we have calculated the return on investment of over 250 business schools, across MBA and masters programs, based on a massive data collection and verification exercise.

Ben: Well I have to agree that the ‘entrepreneurship and alumni outcomes’ piece is the stand out for me – over 49,000 education experiences of key business leaders and influencers have been gathered in a massive, brute force data collection effort – so that we can see the schools, and programs, that have a proven track record of unleashing potential. This cuts right to the heart of the QS mission. For the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018, we've further enriched this dimension by tracking which programs graduate the highest proportion of emerging entrepreneurs. So, whether you're a future blue-chip CEO or start-up tycoon, there's something here for you.

QS has identified for some time that the opinions of employers are a relevant and central gauge to evaluate the prestige of an MBA and has been persistently collecting supporting information. It has only been recently, however, as part of a wider exercise on university employability, that the alumni outcomes concept emerged. This has prompted a broader methodological overhaul which renders these new results far more sophisticated than, but not sensibly comparable to, anything we've done before.

Why has QS decided to emphasise entrepreneurship in these rankings?

Nunzio: The profile of MBA candidates is changing, with a growing proportion (now in excess of 30%) seeking to start their own business. QS will be the first ranking organization to measure alumni success and entrepreneurship, as well as the first to conduct a truly global employer survey.

Ben: Entrepreneurship is a growing phenomena. Our work with applicants confirms that a key reason many people consider an MBA, or indeed a business masters, is to equip themselves with the needful skills and knowledge to feel more confident establishing their own business. Our first thought is always to the prospective student and, based on our own research and organisational DNA, we couldn't overlook this increasingly vital dimension.

How did QS IU devise and hone the methodology used for the rankings?

Nunzio: Our academic advisory board are incredibly helpful in guiding us on ranking methodology. We have many leaders in business education and higher education from over 20 countries.

Ben: Many late nights and feedback rounds with internal and external experts and advisors; countless conversations with schools; years of experience both in business education promotion and higher education rankings; a relentless data collection effort. As with all of our rankings, a lot of hypothesis testing goes on and every outcome, expected or unexpected, has been tested for validity. The first edition of any ranking is fascinating and absorbing but, inevitably, there is room to further learn and evolve. The process of devising and honing this methodology has only just begun and we can't wait to start gathering and processing feedback on this first edition in order to pave the way for the next.

What are the advantages of using multiple indicators to rank universities and how can prospective students best use these rankings in their decision-making process?

Nunzio: It is important to look at these individual indicators, as well as the overall results. Some may matter more to certain candidates than others. That is why we produce the QS Rankings app on iPhone and Android which allows candidates to create a personalized ranking by changing the weightings of the indicators and narrowing their countries of interest.

Ben: Balance.

No ranking is perfect. Most individual indicators less so. A multivariate ranking will typically include variables in which different institutions excel.

Prospective students are making a massive, life-changing, probably expensive, decision. Nobody should place their whole faith in any ranking, but they should seek data and context. Personally, I'd recommend they download our app, tweak our weights to their own design, filter the results to their own requirements and then shortlist three-to-eight programs to research further. Read their course profiles, explore their performance in other rankings and, crucially, seek an opportunity to meet or interact online, with a real human representative of those programs or schools.

What would you say to those people that argue the world doesn’t need another ranking?

Nunzio: Selecting a program is a big decision. QS always aims to provide a unique lens to aid candidate decision making.

Ben: In general, that's a perspective that comes from the misguided notion that there should be a simple, complete and uncomplicated way to objectively rank things so that individuals no longer need to be responsible for their own choices. Better decisions require better data, more data and easier ways to bring it to bear on the problem at hand. Ultimately that means more rankings, not fewer. QS aims to enable users to combine our different studies at institution, subject and now program, level to efficiently build personalised shortlists, but it remains down to them to make the final choice.

This article was originally published in November 2017 .

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