There’s hardly anything more talked about in the MBA world than rankings. They generate hype, debate, sometimes even controversy, and are one of the important criteria on which prospective MBA candidates base their school selection.
Academia has a vested interest in rankings, which serve to determine the popularity and appeal of particular business schools. The media, on the other hand, are highly motivated to play an important role in the rankings, and their stamp of approval for various institutions and programs has made them key players in the MBA world.
Each one of the reputable rankings contains an enormous amount of useful information that can guide you towards the right B-schools. Having doubts whether you would be able to pay back your student loans? Just check the ROI of the ranked schools in your preferred region of study. Not sure if prospective employers prefer a certain school over its competitors? Check the corporate recruiters’ statistics that indicate the most desired MBA degrees.
Once you start to research potential MBA programs, you can find respected sources on literally every topic relating to business education. These include but are not limited to classic rankings, statistical data, and interpretative articles on current affairs in the business education world. However, keep in mind that your MBA program selection should not only be based on these factors. Take into consideration the specifics of your own profile, application package and post-graduation expectations. Meeting an Admissions Director to get first-hand information about the personality of their B-school and how it matches with your own is always a good idea. Organizations such as Access MBA provide that opportunity during their One-to-One MBA events (soon to take place in New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver).
The never-ending debate
MBA rankings are respected sources of information when it comes to determining a school’s quality of education, global reputation, and post-graduation ROI. Highly-ranked schools appreciate the marketing advantages and attractive packaging of MBA rankings, but low-ranked or unranked schools are at a disadvantage in terms of public awareness and perception. However, there is an ongoing debate that rankings are not as perfect and objective as they claim to be, and some experts say that the criteria used in rankings don’t reflect education quality and Value for Money. Others claim that the rankings are biased against American MBA programs.
When taken to an extreme, rankings can be problematic for schools and MBA candidates alike. This is why candidates should not take them at full face-value, and instead conduct additional research and speak with the school representatives first-hand.
Always be critical
What MBA candidates should remember is that the information contained in the rankings has some flaws and intrinsic limitations. The rankings are not a mirror that ideally reflects all advantages or issues of a certain school or program. “Sometimes ranking outlets will attempt to gather data from many schools, but when those schools decline to participate, they gather the data anyway from “various public sources” such as websites or by emailing enrolled students”, explains Matt Turner in an article for www.poetsandquants.com. We know that certain media can be biased against particular schools or programs, and that surveys and polls are only representative of their respondents (and not the entire pool of current MBA students or recent graduates).
Additionally, it is very hard to quantify with flat statistics and factors that supposedly measure the research or the communicative abilities of students, their entrepreneurial skills and other intangible business-related skills gained and talents cultivated during an MBA program.
MBA accreditations are a reliable tool for evaluating the merits of a B-school. They are proof of academic standards, definitely a better hallmark of quality than rankings, and deserve to be taken seriously. The three main accreditation agencies in the world are EQUIS, managed by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Holding an accreditation doesn’t only certify that a program has met certain criteria, but is also an obligation to maintain their standards. So, rather than asking “what’s the ranking”, the more important question should be “is it accredited”.
All in all, we recommend that you keep track of MBA rankings but also be fully aware that no one-dimensional ranking system can possibly tell you which B-school to choose.
Access MBA is a project of Advent Group, a Paris-based communication agency that connects business professionals with Admissions Directors of international MBA programs.
The Access MBA Tour travels to 65 cities per year and showcases over one hundred international business schools. The One-to-One events give selected candidates the chance to meet individually with Admissions Directors of top-tier MBA programs. MBA candidates have twenty minutes to convince school representatives of their eligibility for admission, as well as to decide if the B-school is the right one for them.
The Tour returns to New York’s Warwick Hotel on Thursday, March 6 with representatives of Full Time, Part Time, Executive and Online MBA programs, and will also visit Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in mid-March.
How can you take advantage of Access MBA’s exclusive services? All you have to do is register online on www.accessmba.com and bring your CV to the event. Early registration is recommended as places for the One-to-One meetings are limited.