MBA Rankings: A Better Way

Media rankings of MBA programs do a poor job of assessing quality. Three professors propose a rating system that allows users to define the terms To say that MBA programs have undergone significant changes over the past three decades is an understatement. There have been dramatic shifts in approaches, curricula, and the overall MBA experience, all with a decidedly student-centric focus. Media rankings, such as those published by Bloomberg Businessweek, have played an influential role in this transformation by shining a light into an insular academic world, opening it up to scrutiny and increased accountability. In particular, rankings have shown business schools they must operate within a larger environment, one in which multiple stakeholders (students, businesses, society at large) have a vested interest in the educational process. To be certain, business schools now understand this message and have set a course to work on improving their MBA offerings. Yet for all the good that has come from the rise of rankings, our research suggests that ranking systems fall short of achieving their primary objective, which is to summarize comprehensively educational or academic quality”the most fundamental product of any MBA program. Despite decades of discussion, a complete understanding of MBA program quality has yet to be achieved. Accordingly, we recently completed a project to define MBA program quality exhaustively (read a short summary here). Put simply, our findings suggest that MBA quality is multifaceted, and although rankings capture some important aspects of academic quality (e.g., student economic outcomes), they fail to assess adequately a number of critical features of the educational process, such as the quality of curricula, educational environment, and student learning, to name a few…Read full...

MBA Students Give Career Services a New Assignment...

B-school career offices chase a new breed of employer as students look beyond Wall Street When the University of Chicago Booth School of Business first contacted Groupon in 2009, the school had no idea that the startup, then a year old, would later be valued at $4.75 billion. Booth’s career services department heard about the coupon site from students and alumni and contacted Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mason to make the case for hiring business school graduates. This year the company interviewed students from Booth and six other MBA programs for summer internships. Once upon a time, B-school grads were happy to land a job on Wall Street or at an S&P 500 company. Now, a growing number are setting their sights on less conventional careers. That has schools reaching out to startups, nonprofits, and other employers that don’t traditionally recruit on campus. Career-services officers are spending more time networking and accompanying students on treks to visit companies. Many B-schools are hiring additional staff dedicated to identifying potential employers. “We have to be much more proactive,” says J.J. Cutler, who manages career services at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “I need to have thousands and thousands of relationships with these small firms around the world.” The shift is driven by students, Cutler says. “Part of this is a reaction to the financial crisis, part of it is a generational shift, part of it is that they are coming from much more diverse backgrounds.” Amit Koren, a 29-year-old student at Booth, interned at Groupon over the summer and is working there while he completes his MBA. He didn’t meet with any of the big employers recruiting on campus last year because he wanted to work at a young company. “I...

U.S. Business Schools Get More Competition From Abroad...

U.S. graduate business schools are losing their iron grip on the thriving market for international M.B.A. students At the 25 U.S. graduate-business programs that award the largest numbers of degrees to international students, applications for the 2011 fall semester declined 4%, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Council of Graduate Schools, based in Washington, D.C. Although international applications to all American business schools rose by 4%, that figure paled in comparison to the 12% growth in international bids to U.S. programs offering degrees in engineering and physical and earth sciences, the survey said. Business-school deans attribute the relatively sluggish growth to a growing number of high-quality competitors overseas. “Schools throughout Europe, Asia and Australia have made huge investments in graduation education in general”more specifically, business school,” said James Wimbush, dean of Indiana University’s graduate school of business. In other disciplines, international applications to U.S. graduate programs rose 9% in education, 8% in arts and humanities, 8% in life sciences, and 5% in social sciences and psychology, making business the field with the smallest increase. The trend is evident in separate data from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, the most popular entrance exam for graduate programs in business. GMAC sent less than 78% of its scores to U.S. schools in test-year 2010, ended last June 30, compared with 83% in test-year 2006. During that period, the total number of exams sent jumped to 779,000 from 601,000, according to the GMAC Web site. In one indication of growing international demand for graduate degrees in business, non-U.S. citizens taking the GMAT outnumbered U.S. citizens for the first time ever in test-year 2009, and did so again in test-year 2010…Read full...

Asian MBA Programs on the Rise

It’s official: Management education in Asia is booming With four schools firmly ensconced in the Financial Times top 20 global M.B.A. rankings”China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Hong Kong UST Business School, the Indian School of Business, and the Indian Institute of Management”those who pursue an M.B.A. in Asia are banking on the idea that studying in the region will open doors faster, and wider, than ever before. Flexibility and cost are just two factors swaying applicants to look at programs in the Far East. Most are much shorter than the traditional two-year program in the United States and are significantly less expensive than the top American programs. For international applicants, a program in their home country or region may offer better opportunities for career advancement. And as a student from the United States pursuing international opportunities, a school in the target region may have similar benefits…Read full...

A globetrotter’s MBA program: Worth $140000?...

University of Virginia’s Darden School has joined a growing field of business schools offering global MBA programs, with residencies in four continents, at a hefty price. If you were a business school dean and had the chance to pull out a blank piece of paper and design the ideal global MBA program, what would it look like? For Peter Rodriguez, an economics professor and an associate dean at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, this was no theoretical exercise. Four years ago, Dean Robert Bruner asked him to do just that — sketch out the best possible design for a new global MBA program for executives. “I remember him saying, ‘We need to wake up every day and worry about how we are going to become more global.’ I think I wake up every day and worry about it.” Now, years after studying the market, the result of that worry and work will debut this August. Darden’s Global MBA program is a bold undertaking in global business education, an experience that promises to challenge current notions of what a global MBA program can be. It also comes at a time when there already is plenty of competition from other programs for global execs. And it won’t be cheap. The price: a hefty $139,500, not including an estimated $12,000 in additional travel costs. Starting in August, some 40 students will undergo six two-week residencies at Darden’s home campus in Charlottesville, Va., and Washington, D.C., but also in Brazil, India, Europe, and China. A third of the course work will be delivered online, in live weekly classes, with virtual learning teams, and integrated work projects. Some 15 faculty members at Darden will be involved in delivering the program.Read full...

A passport to the top of the business world

You don’t have to have an MBA to be a CEO, but it clearly helps in so many ways, says Hilary Wilce Do you need an MBA to be a good company chief? Argument about this has been raging around business circles in recent months. No, say business school critics, pointing to examples such as Steve Jobs, of Apple, and Terry Leahy, of Tesco. Yes, say MBA enthusiasts, pointing to Meg Whitman, formerly of eBay, and John Chambers, of Cisco Systems. Research has done nothing to settle the fight. According to a recent analysis of top-ranking CEOs by the US pay consultancy Equilar, fewer than half the people in this position have an MBA, and only handful of these have an MBA from any sort of elite business school. Equally, researchers at Pace University, in New York, found no relationship at all between a CEO’s educational background and his or her company’s performance. However recent work done by INSEAD researchers has indicated that the long-term performance of CEOs who have MBAs outranks that of their colleagues who lack such a training, while other analysts point out that, with MBAs burgeoning from the 1980s onwards, many more of tomorrow’s CEOs will have MBAs compared to the company leaders in post today…Read full...