MBA rankings with a difference: QS aims to focus on what Gen Z care about |

MBA rankings with a difference: QS aims to focus on what Gen Z care about

By Nunzio Quacquarelli

Updated August 10, 2023 Updated August 10, 2023

QS likes to break the mould when we design rankings, as we strive to meet our student centric mission, “to empower motivated people anywhere in the world to fulfil their potential.” 

That’s why we have developed a unique MBA ranking with a strong focus on the metrics Gen Z care about. We gained this insight through our QS International Student Survey, which reaches over 125,000 individuals annually.

QS has developed proprietary metrics around employability, entrepreneurship, ROI, thought leadership and diversity, collected by QS research analysts. These fuel our full-time MBA and business master's rankings.

QS invests heavily in data scientists, often with PhDs, and data analysts to derive innovative metrics and to verify data to ensure our rankings don’t just tick the box of conventional wisdom, but use verified metrics to provide prospective students and education leaders with valuable insights to help them make better data-informed decisions.

That is why QS produces the most popular rankings in the world, according to Google, with over three times the unique visitors and web searches of our competitors.

Google Trends graph

The British statistician George Box once said, "All models are wrong....but some are useful."  And based on student popularity around the world — QS' models are useful and heavily used.

Throughout the two decades since the inception of the QS World University Rankings in 2004, we have continuously collected and responded to feedback from stakeholders, including academics, students, industry professionals and employers. This valuable input has informed the development and improvement of all our rankings’ methodologies. 

Our commitment to advancement and innovation doesn't just manifest in our rankings; it also shines through in our strategic partnerships. A prime example of this is our collaborative efforts with tech giant Amazon Web Services (AWS). This alliance vividly illustrates our dedication to embracing digital transformation within the educational sphere.

As Amit Nevatia of AWS puts it, "QS (in collaboration with AWS) recognises progressive digital transformation programmes … and provides a roadmap to increase access, quality of education, and student employability using digital technology. AWS is pleased to collaborate with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).”  

This collaborative endeavour embodies QS’ commitment to fostering innovation and access in global education. 

Today our full-time MBA ranking consists of 13 indicators in five main categories.

QS Global MBA Rankings Breakdown

  • Employability – 40%
  • Entrepreneurship and Alumni Outcomes – 15%
  • Return on Investment – 20%
  • Thought Leadership – 15%
  • Class & Faculty Diversity – 10%

Read our full QS MBA Rankings methodology.

We take pride in the depth of our unique insights into employability, entrepreneurship, and alumni outcomes of MBA programmes, primarily driven by our proprietary QS indicators. We inform the prospective student about which schools in each country or state have developed a strong reputation with employers both locally (for students who want to stay and work locally) and internationally (for students who might want to return home or study overseas), catering to students with diverse post-MBA aspirations.

We inform students not only about the capability of the programme to help students start their own business, but also the entrepreneurial success of their alumni. 

Additionally, we closely monitor the career trajectories of program alumni, particularly those who ascend to board-level positions in major global companies. This tracking offers crucial insight into the leadership development potential of each program, further enhancing our comprehensive understanding of MBA program outcomes.

No other rankings organisation, that we are aware of, goes to this level of detail in gathering, analysing and presenting fresh data to prospective students. We believe this methodology provides a unique lens for Gen Z students.

Moreover, our detailed evaluation methodology provides an ideal platform for innovative business schools to shine. Those institutions that demonstrate exceptional results in promoting employment opportunities or fostering entrepreneurship among their graduates can truly distinguish themselves in our assessments. We are also looking to collect data on the numbers of students joining NGOs, to reflect the changing and diverse interests of Gen Z.

We unapologetically include ROI and payback period metrics in our MBA ranking. An MBA is often the most expensive postgraduate degree being considered by a candidate and it is also one of the most popular. QS does not believe the MBA should be the domain of the wealthy who can easily afford the fees, as a rite of passage into a high-paying investment banking or consulting career.

Rather, we aim to identify schools which provide a real uplift in salary, or provide a path to diverse careers, in technology or data science, or as an entrepreneur. Our ROI metric adjusts for students who start their own business. 

Thought leadership is principally derived from the same QS Global Academic Survey which underpins our QS World University Rankings. This metric gives us an accurate impression of the reputation of an MBA programme for research and thought leadership, and is based on business school nominations of academics from around the world.

Academics name the institutions which they believe are the strongest in their subject area which includes many different business specialisations. The survey has grown to become the world’s largest survey of academic opinion, and, in terms of size and scope, is an unparalleled means of measuring sentiment in the academic community. 

We also calculate research impact and faculty with PhDs to provide an additional lens on research quality. Some argue that business schools should be teaching institutions and not wasting resources on research. Although QS respects this point of view, we believe business schools that push the knowledge frontiers are more likely to create informed business leaders who can have a transformative effect on their company and on society. 

Class and faculty diversity are also important parts of the QS Global MBA Rankings, as business schools strive to be more diverse and provide greater access to women and disadvantaged students through scholarships. We also look at international class and faculty make-up.

We gather a huge amount of data, which our analysts independently verify for accuracy, or we corroborate with third-party partners like the MBA Career Services & Employers Alliance.

Yet we feel we can do better. Recognising how much Gen Z care about the environment and social impact, we have introduced sustainability as a new metric in our QS World University Rankings in June 2023, to great acclaim. We are committed to carrying this key agenda forward, incorporating a sustainability metric into our Global MBA Rankings in 2024. Additional insights on this new feature, which will include expanded metrics on social impact and diversity, will be soon announced.

QS also believes in allowing prospective candidates to personalise their rankings output. For over 15 years, QS provided a rankings app which allowed students to create their own scorecard based on the criteria that matter to them. Today QS is the first rankings organisation to create a personalised generative AI tool to allow candidates to ask complex questions and derive a shortlist of universities based on their personal needs and goals, using QS proprietary data. This facility will be available for our MBA ranking in September 2023.

For over 33 years, QS has been a trusted insights partner to the global higher education community and millions of students around the world. Our success is a testament to the trust we've earned and work tirelessly to uphold, with unwavering pride and dedication.

This article was originally published in August 2023 .

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