BusinessWeek’s New Rankings Out Today

BusinessWeek’s new 2011 list of the world’s best Executive MBA and part-time MBA programs will be released today (Nov. 10) in a live chat event at 5 p.m. EST.

The new biennial rankings, which include the magazine’s lists of the best open enrollment and custom executive education schools, will be unveiled by Louis Lavelle, associate editor, and Geoff Gloeckler, staff editor at Bloomberg Businessweek. They will count down the top programs and take questions about everything from the methodology to the surprises they unearthed while conducting this year’s surveys.

To participate in the chat, BusinessWeek is advising readers to head to its Chat Auditorium about 10 minutes before the scheduled event. “You may be prompted to create a user name and password,” according to BW’s website. “It’s free and should take only a few minutes. Francesca Di Meglio (screen name: FrancescaBW) will be your host. If you cannot attend the event, you can send your questions ahead of time to Francesca at with the subject ‘Rankings Chat.'”


The last time BW ranked EMBA programs, the top five schools were Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Columbia Business School, and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

The magazine’s EMBA rankings are based on two surveys: of EMBA graduates and the B-school directors or deans of these programs. For the graduate portion of the ranking, BusinessWeek typically combines its last three surveys of graduates to increase the size of the sample and to create more stability in the ranking. The magazine’s 2009 Executive MBA program rankings, for example, were  based on three separate surveys of EMBA graduates—in 2009, 2007, and 2005—and a poll of EMBA program directors. The 2009 graduate poll was sent to 5,056 students at 83 programs, of whom 2,974 responded (58%); the director poll was sent to 83 directors, of whom 69 responded (83%). Graduates were surveyed on various measures, including teaching quality, career services, and curriculum. EMBA program directors were asked to list their top 10 programs overall.


The last time BW ranked executive education, the top five schools in open enrollment programs were Harvard Business School, INSEAD, Stanford Graduate School of Business, IMD, and Center for Creative Leadership. The top five schools in custom programs were Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, INSEAD, Center for Creative Leadership, ESADE, and IMD.

To compile this ranking, the magazine first asks the schools being examined to supply a list of client companies. Then, with the help of an outside polling company, Cambria Consulting, BusinessWeek asks those companies to complete a survey asking which programs they are familiar with and which programs they consider the best. In both open-enrollment and custom categories, the companies rank their top programs. A No. 1 ranking is worth 10 points, a No. 2 ranking 9 points, and so on. To calculate the final ranking, BusinessWeek adds up each program’s point total, multiplies it by the number of companies ranking a given school, and then divides that figure by the number of companies that indicated a familiarity with that program. “The goal,” according to BusinessWeek, is “to identify the programs that are considered best-in-class by the vast majority of companies that are familiar with them.” Some 809 companies received the online survey in 2009, and 188 responded (23%).


The last time BW ranked part-time MBA programs, the magazine came up with fairly odd results: the top five schools were Worcester Polytechnic Institute, UCLA’s Anderson School, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln B-school, and the University of Michigan’s Ross School.

BusinessWeek’s methodology for ranking part-time MBA programs is, by the magazine’s own admission, the most complex. It’s based on three separate measures of student satisfaction, academic quality, and post-graduation outcomes. For the student-satisfaction measure, the magazine surveys part-time MBA students at participating schools—students who have recently graduated or are nearing graduation—about all aspects of their academic experience. To determine which programs are tops in academic quality, BusinessWeek says it combines six equally weighted measures: average GMAT score, average student work experience, the percentage of teachers who are tenured, average class size in core business classes, the number of business electives available to part-timers, and the percentage of students who ultimately complete the program.

To gauge post-graduation outcomes, the magazine determines the percentage of student-survey respondents from each school who say their part-time MBA program was “completely responsible for them achieving their career goals—whether it’s advancing a career with a current employer, finding a new employer, or changing careers entirely.” The student survey contributes 40% of the final ranking, with academic quality and post-MBA outcomes contributing 30% each.





About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.