Booth & Kellogg Trade Places In New Ranking

Chicago's Gleacher Center downtown is the home of Booth's Executive MBA program.

Chicago’s Booth School of Business today (March 15) edged ahead of perennial rival Northwestern University’s Kellogg School in U.S. News & World Report’s new 2011 ranking of the best Executive MBA programs. The two schools switched positions so that Chicago is now number two and Kellogg is number three. Wharton’s Executive MBA program retained its number one ranking in the U.S. News survey.

Besides the Booth-Kellogg flip flop, there was little movement among the top ten. EMBA progrms at six schools were ranked in exactly the same places as they were last year–Duke in 4th, Columbia in 5th, New York in 6th, Michigan in 8th, and North Carolina in 10th. Berkeley’s Haas School fell two spots to 9th from 7th, while UCLA’s Anderson School rose three places to 6th from 9th.

The U.S. News survey–based entirely on the magazine’s poll of deans and MBA program directors–saw five schools disappear from the top 25 list: Xavier University in Cincinnati, St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia, Georgetown University’s McDonough School in Washington, D.C., and Fordham University in New York.

They were replaced by the EMBA programs at four new schools: Washington University’s Olin School of Business in St. Louis, MIT’s Sloan School in Cambridge, Mass., the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, and the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business in Seattle.

For yet another year, U.S. News’ list included Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, even though Stanford does not have an Executive MBA program. Oddly, Stanford improved its ranking by one place, moving to 12th from 13th. The school’s inclusion is a strong reminder to users of the ranking not to take it too seriously.

The deans and MBA directors U.S. News asked to name and rank EMBA programs have no direct knowledge of these programs at other schools. They largely select schools on their overall reputations–which is how Stanford ends up on the list even though it has no EMBA program.

This flaw was highlighted recently by New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell in a scathing critique of the U.S. News methodology for ranking colleges oveall. It is a much bigger problem here because U.S. News’s specialty ranking, ranging from this list of EMBA programs to how schools fare in individual disciplines such as finance and marketing, is completely based on the dean polls.

In contrast, a biennial BusinessWeek ranking of EMBA programs surveys both the graduates of the programs for customer satisfaction as well as EMBA directors who are far more likely to have knowledge of their rivals’ programs.

The biggest year-over-year winners on the list? Cornell University’s EMBA program moved up five notches on the list to 20th. Virginia’s Darden School of Business jumped ahead four places to 14th from a rank of 18 last year. And Seattle University’s Albers School of Business moved up four places to 18th from 22nd in 2010.

Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business lost the most ground, dropping nine places to a rank of 23 from 14 last year. Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, fell six spots to 20th from 14th. And the University of Texas at Austin’s EMBA program tumbled four places to 18th from a three-way with Marquette and SMU last year (see complete ranking on the next page).

  • Lee Hamilton

    Hi John

    I have recently being admitted to the Chicago Booth EMBA program in London and the LBS EMBA course in London. I am trying to decide between the two. Can you advise the pro and cons of choosing one over another

    • John A. Byrne


      First off, congratulations! You’ve been accepted to two of the best EMBA programs in the world. I am slightly less familiar with the London Business School offering and this may admittedly influence my thinking. I’ve also asked our columnist Paul Bodine to weigh in on your question. But without knowing all your specific facts and goals, I’ll do my best.

      London Business School — School with best reputation in Europe today. I assume you’re in London and so having an LBS degree and taking full advantage of its European alumni network is a very big plus–this is especially true if you plan to stay in London.

      Chicago — The advantages over LBS is that 1) Chicago has the EMBA format down pat. It originated the executive MBA degree program in 1943. It really knows how to do a world class EMBA. This is not an inconsequential attribute. If you have to have major surgery, you go to a surgeon who has done the operation so many times so that all the protocols are set and little can go wrong. Same is true with a major EMBA program, given the huge commitment and expense you are incurring. 2) It is ranked higher than the LBS program (so its reputation and prestige is unquestioned) and Chicago has a broader and deeper EMBA alumni network (largely because it’s been in the game so long and because of the innovative nature of the program) 3) It’s the more global and innovative EMBA of the two. Now I’m sure the folks at LBS won’t agree with this, but based on the absolute facts, it’s true. The Chicago program essentially has three campuses–Chicago, London and Singapore–and students from each base spend a significant time with each other. There are 50 nationalities represented in the program (versus 30 at LBS), and the average Chicago student has 13 years of work and managerial experience (versus 10 at LBS). The Chicago program gives you four one-week residencies, two in Chicago and one in Singapore, that allow you to know and learn from all of the EMBA candidates whether they entered the program in Singapore, Chicago, or London. In comparison, there’s an “international assignment” project at LBS but that’s it.

      It’s also worth noting that Chicago controls what is going on at all three campuses. In other words, this is a global program that is created and operated by Chicago alone–not through partnerships with other schools. So the quality control over the program is superb, no matter where you enroll. A possible drawback, of course, is that Chicago flies its faculty into London and Singapore so outside of class face-to-face contact with faculty would be limited. At London, the permanent faculty is in London so that would give London an edge in terms of faculty accessibility.

      You know where this is leading, obviously. These are two great programs, but I would go to Chicago.

  • Lee hamilton

    Hi John,

    Thanks for a quick response. I need to take this decision in this week. I am trying to come up with a proper criteria to make a compelling case for the school in question.

    My Background

    I have spent 17 years in process and domain consulting and plan to take the next jump into management advisory roles. I have had a global career across 8 countries/3 continents. I am not a big fan of global programs except for the networking opportunities it creates.

    My goal

    I want to work with leaders of Blue chip organizations as part of their team or as an advisor and want to shape business policy + critical decisions. I want to use EMBA as a career accelerator and improve the trajectory of my career. I want more bang for my buck in terms of business education and I should be able to tap School services and Alumni Network to get into a Senior Management role in the minimum time period possible

    Pros of Chicago Booth

    Great Core curriculum- Business fundamentals honed over 60 plus years
    Engaging culture + Great philosophy
    Lifetime career services
    16 weeks * 5 days*7 hrs=560/600 hrs of classroom including orientation
    Superior Quant education
    Chicago degree+Alumni Access
    Same faculty as Full time MBA
    Bigger Alumni Network+ Immediate recognition in North America
    More conventient for out of town students ( lowers travel Plus accomodation costs)
    World class education in Economics, Finance and Marketing ( upcoming area)
    More experienced class

    Cons of Chicago Booth

    No GMAT ( Motivation + effectiveness in communication)
    33% more expensive than LBS EMBA
    Travelling and its impact on classroom content absorption
    Each elective has add on costs ( 6000 GBP for Strategy and
    Finance each)
    Not much variety and depth in Electives ( inspite of world class course in Analytical finance)
    Orientation is add on costs
    Travelling plus sundries to the other two campuses is add on costs
    Network in London vis a vis LBS ( I am interested in LBS vs Booth Network in emerging markets)
    Not on Major campus
    No experiential opportunities but offset by capstone courses such as strategic leadership and entrepreneurial strategy and business venture competition
    Better network in South East Asia?

    Pros of LBS

    15 subjects in core curiculum+ 6-8 electives ( However I am not sure about the hrs spent on core curriculum as you have 38-43 days spent on the core curriculum which could be 220-300 hrs depending on 5-7 hrs a day)

    Each elective offers 30 hrs of classroom so in effect you can have 180-240 hrs on top of core curriculum.Strong variety in Finance, Strategy, Mktg and Organizational behaviour

    Experiential opportunties such as elective incompany project and International assignments and Management report

    LBS Network in London/Europe- Maybe it is over a broader range of functions and Industries ( I could be wrong)

    Access to Clubs ( for areas of interest) and Events on Campus translating to more networking opportunties – intensity of networking?

    More value for money?

    Better Network in the Middle East

    Networking opportunities on campus is stronger as electives are taken with peers from other programs

    Available loans for self funded students ( Barclays in Dubai and HSBC In London)

    Cons for LBS

    Textbooks for electives and Travelling for International assignments are add on

    Career Services are not lifetime

    No strong electives in Operations Mgmt and lesser variety in Finance ( which is understandable) if compared to the elective menu for the full time counterpart

    Hrs spend per disciplene on core fundamentals/curriculum?

    LBS School was founded in 1960 vs Booth EMBA since 1940s

    Conclusion: I get a feeling that Booth offers a stronger richer curriculum plus stronger career services but LBS wins out on the depth offered and network strength in London.

    Would love to know both yours and Pauls take on the criteria needed for such a decision?

  • Vico

    Interesting that MIT dropped out of US News ranking this year after coming in 20th last year and Darden moved up to 11 from 14….