The Economist has just released its 2019 MBA rankings. Before we get into a deep analysis of the changes, let’s take a look at the top 10:
The Top 10
1. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
2. Harvard Business School
3. HEC Paris Business School
4. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
5. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
6. UCLA Anderson School of Management
7. University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business
8. Stanford University Graduate School of Business
9. University of Michigan Ross School of Business
10. University of Navarra IESE Business School
2019 vs 2018
Should it come as a surprise that Chicago Booth has maintained its number one spot in The Economist ranking? Not in the least, as Booth has held that coveted rank for 7 out of the last 8 years. However, the same consistency cannot be applied to the rest of the top 10.
Let’s first take a look at this year’s winners. HEC Paris has shown the largest improvement in the top echelon, having jumped 10 places to finish in 3rd. This is the strongest showing that this Paris-based MBA has had to date. The next biggest change was experienced by Berkeley, which leapt out of 11th place to finish in 7th. Additional gains were had by UCLA Anderson, which moved up two positions, to finish in 6th, and HBS, which moved up one spot, ending in 3rd.
On the negative end, two schools, Darden and Columbia, have found themselves completely outside of the top 10 this year. Darden fell from 9th to 16th, and Columbia dropped from 10th to 15th. Other losses included IESE (from 6th to 10th), Ross (from 7th to 9th), Stanford (from 5th to 8th) and Wharton (from 4th to 5th).
What does this ranking mean for you?
If you look deeply into The Economist’s ranking, you quickly come up with a lot of touchy questions. Is Chicago Booth the best program? Should IESE be ranked above Columbia Business School? Can the quality of an MBA program change in a single year so much so that it experiences a double-digit fall in its position (something that occurred to 18 schools this year)?
The answers to all of these questions can be boiled down into the single response that this MBA ranking—in fact, just like any other ranking—is quite flawed. More exactly: there is no such thing as the best MBA; no one school is necessarily better than another; and the vast majority of MBA programs do not experience major changes in quality over 5 years, let alone 1 year.
Why is this? Rankings are volatile and inaccurate for two major reasons: because of the way they are calculated and because of you. In the first case, rankings are based on often confused and simplified formulas, as well as self-reported metrics, that are constructed much more “artistically” than scientifically. This makes these rankings liable to extreme volatility and also creates significant differences in their comparative outcomes.
Now, the second cause might seem abstract but it’s actually very practical. As a candidate, you have certain expectations from your MBA, in terms of the school (environment, learning methodology, course structure, etc.) and its ability to help you achieve your post-MBA goals (region/country penetration, job placement department, industry connection, salary, etc.). Your ideal MBA ranking will likely differ from “traditional” rankings.
You may be wondering, are these rankings useless? Of course not! They can be used to help you understand the universe of your MBA options, and they can provide you with a wealth of background data on individual MBA programs that would otherwise be unavailable to you—but use them with care.
If you’re looking for help with identifying the ideal MBA for you, contact us to be put in touch with one of our admissions experts who can guide you through the process.