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Move over, Harvard and Stanford! You’ve got nothing on Chicago, Kellogg and Darden — at least according to the 2016 Economist MBA rankings.
The Economist’s list is known for being the rebel among the major MBA rankings, and this year is no exception. For 2016, the top ten schools are:
1. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
2. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
3. University of Virginia Darden School of Business
4. Harvard Business School
5. Stanford University Graduate School of Business
6. Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business
7. University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business
8. University of Navarra IESE Business School
9. HEC Paris
10. The University of Queensland Business School
You might notice some of the usual suspects missing from the top ten. For example, to find London Business School, which Financial Times put third in their 2016 MBA rankings, you’ll have to scroll all the way down to number 25.
There’s a reason the Economist’s MBA ranking is unique. The methodology used emphasizes direct feedback from students and recent alums, which makes things unpredictable. When you survey students about B-school, you never know for sure what response you’ll get.
About 14 percent of a school’s ranking is determined by how students rate everything from their professors to their classmates to their school’s facilities. This approach gets at the heart of what kind of experience students are having, but it can also lead to some surprises.
Some people are bigger fans of the Economist’s one-of-a-kind approach to ranking business schools than others. You probably won’t hear any complaints from the folks at Booth — they’ve dominated the Economist rankings in recent years, placing first five years in a row!
Other schools are less enthusiastic. This year, IMD Business School tried to opt out of the rankings, refusing to supply data to the Economist. The move came on the heels of the school’s precipitous decline from first place in 2008 to thirty-second place last year.
The Economist decided to rank IMD anyway, saying that “the school is of such renown that the ranking would have been seriously diminished without its inclusion.” And in the kind of plot twist you can only get from the Economist’s rankings, IMD rose nine spots to 23 this year.
In the end, we’re left with the same question rankings always bring up. It’s easy enough to put schools in order, but what do the numbers mean? What does it mean that number 10 Queensland beat out number 11 Columbia?
The safest approach is to take each MBA ranking as a way of getting a different perspective on how B-schools stack up against each other. And say what you will, there’s no denying that the Economist’s ranking does give a different perspective!
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