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Business School Rankings Based On What The Students Think

A new wave of business school rankings, from publishers such as Pagalguy and GraduatePrograms, focus primarily on student feedback, rather than school data or alumni salaries

By  Aydin M

Tue Feb 19 2013

With the latest Financial Times Global Full Time MBA Rankings hot off the press (Harvard’s back on top for the first time in a decade!) the b-school media is awash with chatter on all things rankings related.
One of our favourite round-ups by biz ed expert, Matt Symonds, neatly outlines trends from 15 years of MBA rankings – including the massive growth in the MBA market and the rise of business schools across Europe and Asia. 
But the business of rankings is also on the rise! In addition to the annual business school rankings churned out by major publications (Financial Times, BusinessWeek, US News, The Economist to name a few), other, smaller organisations are now joining the rankings frenzy.
Pagalguy (India) and GraduatePrograms (USA) are two such examples. Niche websites, focused on delivering post-grad educational content, both these companies feel there’s a gap in the market for providing a ‘different’ type of ranking methodology to the big players. They say, amongst other things, that the traditional business school rankings rely too heavily on data directly from the business schools – which is likely to be biased.
Another problem, highlighted by self-appointed "Chief Happiness Officer" and IE MBA graduate, Adam Pervez, is that rankings place too much weight on alumni salary data - in the case of the Financial Times this is a whopping 40%! For many MBAs, business school represents a transition to a different career, often meaning an initial salary cut - particularly if, like Adam, they are moving to a non-profit or governmental organisation. Placing such emphasis on post-MBAs earnings does not necessarily reflect the value of the program.
Instead, Pagalguy have decided to categorise schools according to student ‘perception’. Potentially a slippery attribute to measure, but the geeks at Pagalguy claim to have a magic formula for ‘crowdsourcing opinions through perception surveys’ of more than 8,000 business students across India. They use sites such as Facebook to authenticate that respondents are real people and not ‘bogus’.
GraduatePrograms are also focusing on student feedback by asking MBAs to rate their school according to a simple ‘star’ system. “We provide the most pure of rankings, completely uninfluenced by any data from the schools, because we rely solely on student questionnaires,” says Harvey Berkey, Chief Operating Officer at
4,500 business students (from 700 different US schools) were asked by GraduatePrograms to review their own course according to 15 criteria and a simple scale of 1 to 10. 
The results were surprising, in that very few of the super-elite b-schools that appear in the top 10 of the Financial Times and other such rankings, appear in this new student-based review. Topping the GraduatePrograms list - all scoring more than 9 ‘stars’ - are:
1. Rice University (Jones Graduate School of Business) (9.41 stars)
2. University of Virginia (Darden Graduate School of Business) (9.26 stars)
3. Dartmouth (Tuck School of Business) (9.15 stars)
4. University of Notre Dame (Mendoza College of Business ) (9.04 stars)
5. Cornell University (S. C. Johnson Graduate School of Management) (9.02 stars)
So another set of reviews for MBA applicants to consider when wading through the business school selection process! Maybe next we’ll have a ‘Rankings of Rankings’ to help choose which one to look at first!
Click here to Compare MBA rankings from the Financial Times, Economist and BusinessWeek.