There are numerous sources that can knowledgeably rank the “top” MBA programs. However, because business schools receive different rankings depending on sources’ criteria, it can be difficult to understand which are the “best” schools. Therefore, today we’d like to talk about how b-school applicants can use rankings to discover the “best” schools—for them. Although the general merits of each school are important, we also believe that it is important for MBA applicants to rank schools based on their individual needs and interests. We encourage applicants to use official MBA school rankings in the following ways:
1. Use rankings to create a consensus. Sources rarely have the exact same rankings as each other, and therefore trying to determine the “top 5” schools can be frustrating. However, it’s best to compile these different sources of rankings to form a consensus regarding the top schools. For example, if your target program is consistently listed in the top 15, regardless of its individual ranking among different sources, you should feel confident that it is regarded as a top school by industry professionals and future employers. You may not be able to pinpoint the ultimate “number one” school, but you will be able to distinguish between the different tiers of schools.
2. Consider individual rankings. MBA applicants should assess schools based on how they will help them gain what they want from their business school experiences. Therefore we urge you to ask yourself—what matters most to you in an MBA program? Some applicants may value strict adherence to the case method more than the amount or size of research centers, whereas other applicants may want a large number of diverse student organizations or a strong joint-degree program. Looking at the individual criteria from which rankings are calculated may help you judge business schools based on the specific factors that matter most to you. For example, if you are interested in entrepreneurship, then perhaps you should consider applying to an MBA program with a strong program in this field, even if it receives lower scores in other areas—especially if these areas are not a main concern for you.
3. Think about where you want to go after business school. In addition to considering what you want to get out of your business school experience, you should think about how business school will help you pursue your future career. Therefore, some important rankings to consider may be the number of internships students gain at a particular MBA program, or how many recruiters from different fields visit specific campuses. These rankings may be especially important if you need to follow a specific career path to achieve your career goals.
In addition to studying rankings, we encourage b-school applicants to do further research in understanding the comparable merits of business schools, such as perusing admissions information, talking to professors and students, and visiting campuses. Furthermore, we encourage applicants to check out our Clear Admit School Guides, which offer detailed profiles of the leading MBA programs. Best of luck to those researching business schools!