Understanding the New GMAC MBA Rankings Tool

scottbloomdecisionsWith so many different MBA rankings, it can be difficult for the typical applicant to understand why one business school may be ranked higher in one publisher’s ranking than in another’s. This can create a culture of bias and distrust around the rankings, which limits the value of the information they present, especially considering few applicants will actually dive deep enough to uncover the DNA of each specific ranking.

The new GMAC rankings tool seeks to shed light on the differences between the various rankings. This tool provides a “one stop shop” for finding the right rankings system for your personal school selection process. Here’s a brief summary of the topics the GMAC rankings tool evaluates:

Distinctive Emphasis
A quick summary headline describing the most important criteria influencing the rankings of the publisher. This quick information will help orient your criteria for pursuing an MBA with the most relevant rankings publisher.

Rankings Methodology
A visual breakdown of how the publisher determines its rankings. This is a deeper dive into the “distinctive emphasis,” showing the full spectrum of the ranking criteria.

Rankings Fluctuation
An estimate of how much the average schools’ position changes from edition to edition. This can provide good insight into how stable and reliable the rankings of a particular publication are.

Schools Included
Information on what schools are included and the criteria each publication uses to determine inclusion. There are many MBA programs around the world and some publications are more U.S focused, international focused, full-time, or part-time focused so this category provides information on the publication’s coverage area.

Regional Popularity
A visual map of the most popular regions for a specific publisher’s ranking. The influence of a particular publication can vary from region to region, thus influencing its value to candidates in other areas.

Rankings Lists
The actual publication-specific rankings. This is the ranked list of schools that have resulted from each publisher’s unique methodology. Once you have identified the right publisher based on your target program criteria and future goals, then this list can help inform your school selection process.

This new offering from GMAC is a great tool to kick start your school research and selection processes. Leverage this resource to find the right rankings system for your MBA goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Free MBA Guide: Everything You Need to Research Business Schools and Create Compelling Applications

Columbia UniversityIt’s no secret that pursuing an MBA is a challenging and time consuming process. There are thousands of MBA programs around the world, and it’s your job to find the program best fit for you. It’s easy to identify programs where your GPA and GMAT score fall within the range of accepted candidates, but what about personal fit? Which school or schools will offer you the best environment for your unique personality and future goals?

The Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools is a must-have resource for every elite MBA applicant. Now available for free through the Veritas Prep website, this comprehensive, interactive guide cuts through the marketing jargon and basic statistics found on any school’s website to offer in-depth analysis and expert advice to gain admission to the world’s most selective graduate business programs.

Use this guide to help determine which business school is the best fit for you based on your unique needs. The Essential Guide to Top Business School includes detailed information about the world’s most competitive business schools, including class statistics, academic structure, campus culture, post-MBA employment trends, as well as actionable advice to create compelling applications.

What are you waiting for? Bring yourself one step closer to getting an MBA, and check out the Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Business School for free now!

Getting ready to apply to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Breaking Down the 2017 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Part 2

US News College Rankings

Make sure you check out Part 1 of this article before you begin reading more of our thoughts on the recently released U.S. News and World Report‘s 2017 ranking of Best Business Schools. Now let’s take a deeper look at some of the surprises this year’s rankings presented:

 

Ranking surprises 
We were quite surprised to see Columbia (#10) come behind Tuck and Yale this year (ranked #8 and #9 respectively). Columbia has a very high yield of admitted applicants who choose to attend the school, and it has been working hard to foster a more collaborative culture. However, Tuck’s employment statistics and remarkably high percentage of graduates receiving a signing bonus (87%!) play well to the U.S. News methodology. We shouldn’t sell Tuck short, though, as other intangibles at Tuck not included in this ranking — such as student satisfaction, alumni network, and tight-knit culture — also rate among the highest of any MBA program.

Yale snagged Dean Ted Snyder from Chicago Booth back in 2011 after he presided over its precipitous rise in the rankings. His magic potion seems to be working at Yale as well, and we’ve dubbed him the “Rankings Whisperer.” He thoroughly understands the drivers of rankings and pushes all levers to the max to improve the standings of his schools. Yale has begun to move away from its ties to the social and nonprofit sectors, driving up average starting salaries and recruitment percentages, but perhaps distancing the program from its roots.

University of Virginia’s Darden School always seems to be the sleeper success story, and this year is no exception. With its best placement in more than a decade, Darden came in at #11. Darden’s reputation amongst peer schools and recruiters is not as strong as most other programs ranked in the top 15, but it has a very strong starting salary/bonus and other statistics.

Be wary of average salary numbers
The U.S. News ranking incorporates average salary plus signing bonus in its rankings, which in theory, is not a bad thing. After all, many applicants desire to gain an MBA, at least in part, to improve their salary potential. However, we recommend that you look at salaries just like the rankings themselves—by using the numbers in a broader context. After all, the difference in average salary and bonus between Harvard (ranked #1 overall) and Cornell (ranked #14 overall), is less than $5,000 per year.

If you analyze the data industry-by-industry (as we have), you’ll find that there’s little difference in salaries coming out of the top 10 to 15 programs. The biggest difference is the percentage of graduates who are able to land positions in highly selective industries, such as private equity. But here’s the rub: most of these highly selective industries are looking for extremely qualified candidates who have pre-MBA experience that fits their needs. So even if you manage to squeeze into Harvard or Stanford, if you don’t have the pre-MBA experience that these firms are looking for, then you’re going to have a tough time getting an interview, much less landing a job, in the highest paying private equity or venture capital positions.

Also, some roles, such as in investment banking, do not have as high of base salaries or signing bonuses, but a high percentage of your income will come from performance-based quarterly and annual bonuses. Other roles simply pay less, such as marketing and product management, but remain very attractive to a significant number of MBA graduates. Schools with a higher percentage of graduates taking these roles, such as Kellogg, can have lower overall salary averages, when their graduates make as much or more than peers within their chosen industry. None of this information can be captured in the U.S. News ranking.

Bottom line: Are you likely to make more money coming out of a program ranked #5 than ranked #20? Yes. But should you let this number dictate your decision between #7 and #12? Not necessarily. There are many other factors to consider, such as whether your target companies, industries, and so forth.

A holistic approach
We’ve provided a bit of context and analysis around this year’s ranking, and we encourage you to use these lists as merely a starting point in your research process. We encourage you to take advantage of our Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools to assist in your process, as it’s now available for free on our website!

In addition, if you’re interested in finding out your chances of admission to the top schools, you can sign up for a free profile evaluation to explore your individual strengths and weaknesses. Veritas Prep has worked with thousands of successful applicants to the top business schools, and we look forward to assisting you on your own journey!

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

Breaking Down the 2017 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Let the Games Begin!

US News College RankingsJust three and a half months into 2016, U.S. News & World Report has already released its 2017 ranking of Top Business Schools, and there’s quite a bit to talk about. The U.S. News ranking is arguably the most influential among U.S. business schools, and for good reason.

Various stakeholders can (and do) haggle over percentages of weight given to this statistic or that, but we at Veritas Prep think it does a good job at quantifying broad characteristics that a typical business school applicant would care about, namely the school’s overall reputation (40% weight), the ability to place you in a good-paying job (35%), and the capabilities of your fellow students (25%). We won’t get into the nitty-gritty here, but you’re more than welcome to read about the rankings methodology on the U.S. News website.

Now, let’s get into the juicy stuff!

Chicago Booth moves to #2
For the first time in the poll’s history, Chicago Booth has entered the #2 spot, tied with Stanford Graduate School of Business. There’s a lot to talk about here. How can Booth, which admits one in every four applicants (24.4%), possibly rank equally to Stanford, which admits only 6.1%? The key is that Stanford graduates are pickier.

Let me explain: Stanford exceeds Booth (and pretty much every other program) in every category except job placement. In fact, on the surface, Stanford’s job placement numbers look absolutely abysmal: It ranks #52 in percentage of graduates employed at graduation (71.7%) and #74 in percentage of grads employed three months after graduation (86.2%).

But wait, shouldn’t recruiters be pounding down the door to hire Stanford grads? Indeed, they do. However, Stanford MBAs are known for being exceptionally picky, and they’re willing to wait to get the jobs they want. This year, 92% of Stanford MBAs had received a job offer within 3 months of graduation, but several of them chose not to accept those offers. MBAs from most other schools have a lower tolerance for risk, so once they near the three-month mark after graduation, few offers go unanswered.

In addition, far fewer Stanford graduates go into traditional MBA recruiting industries such as management, consulting and finance. These industries will hire whole classes of MBA recruits many months before graduation, so the schools that send more graduates into those industries tend to have stronger recruitment statistics than the programs that send more graduates into non-traditional positions. Remember, most companies will only hire someone when a position becomes available (just-in-time hiring), rather than hiring a whole slew of graduates at once.

Many Stanford grads tend to gravitate toward venture capital, private equity, or Bay Area startups, which are far smaller than the enormous banks and management consulting firms that many traditional MBAs are hired to. This depresses their statistics, but is also a key reason to attend Stanford GSB. Based on all other criteria, Stanford would be the clear #1 ranked program.

This isn’t to say that Chicago Booth isn’t deserving. The school has invested significantly in its career services resources and recruiting apparatus to ensure its graduates have stellar jobs upon graduation. Fully 95% of Booth graduates had accepted a job offer within three months of graduation, leading every school in the top-10 except the (much smaller) class at Tuck, which edged them out at 95.1%.

NYU Stern drops to #20, but ignore it
The biggest loser — by far — in this year’s ranking is NYU Stern, dropping from #11 last year to #20 this year. The school is furious, and we can’t blame them. Dean Peter Henry released a press release explaining the drop in ranking, which was due to inadvertently leaving one answer blank on a survey of 300 questions. The question asked for the number of admits that had submitted a GMAT score, which was not dramatically different from the previous year.

However, rather than simply reaching out and asking NYU Stern – perennially ranked in the top 10-12 programs – what the number should be, the ranking “estimated” the number, resulting in a drop of nine places. Clearly, their estimate was nowhere near realistic, and we at Veritas Prep believe this action by U.S. News to be in egregiously bad taste and downright punitive. We encourage all of our clients and readers to ignore this year’s ranking of NYU Stern, to not incorporate it into their school-selection decisions, and assume that had the data been reported correctly, the school would have remained in approximately the same rank.

Check out Part 2 of this article, in which we’ll take a deeper look at these rankings and what they might mean for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

Financial Times Ranks INSEAD as the #1 MBA Program in the World

INSEADThe Financial Times recently released their Global MBA Rankings for 2016, and this year, INSEAD topped the list. This is the first time a “one-year MBA program” has ranked #1 in the Financial Times‘ rankings.

With this honor, INSEAD also becomes only the fifth school to ever assume the top spot in the Financial Times‘ 18-year history of publishing their rankings – the only schools to reach #1 thus far have been Harvard Business School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, London Business School, and the Wharton School of Business, all of which occupy the rest of the top five slots for this year’s rankings.

INSEAD prides itself on being the “business school of the world,” and boasts of an international faculty and student body of over 80 different nationalities that enriches classroom discussions and creates life changing experiences for its students through its cultural diversity and views. INSEAD’s campuses in France and Singapore further add to the student experience with opportunities to travel across Europe and Asia with fellow MBA participants during the program.

In his letter to INSEAD alumni, Dean Ilian Mihov attributes the school’s #1 ranking to what INSEAD values: “diversity, academic excellence, entrepreneurial culture and extensive global alumni network.” The school’s international faculty also works together to continuously improve its curriculum and deliver exceptional educational experiences to all its students in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Mihov also shared that this marked a “triple first” for INSEAD, becoming the first and only school to have all three of its MBA programs ranked #1 by the FT in their respective categories: INSEAD MBA ranked #1 for MBA programs, the Tsinghua INSEAD EMBA ranked #1 for EMBA programs, and the INSEAD Global EMBA was honored as the highest ranked single school program.

In a separate letter, the INSEAD MBA Admissions team shared the profile of its latest intake of 514 students, with 75 nationalities represented – 30% of them women – including students from Indian, American, Chinese, French, British, and Canadian nationalities. The average age of INSEAD’s incoming class is 29 and its average GMAT score is 702.

INSEAD has also continued its “Conditional Acceptance Offer” of offering a place to candidates who have the potential and quality to be admitted, but need one more year of professional experience. Introduced in 2014, the school has found this offer to be a good way to retain young, bright candidates for future MBA classes. 15 students received such an offer for their latest intake.

Surely this remarkable achievement will be something to consider when determining whether INSEAD is the right business school for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

Fit vs. Ranking: Choosing the Right Business School for You

Round 1 vs. Round 2One of the hardest aspects of selecting which MBA programs to apply to is reconciling how well you fit with a program with how highly ranked that same program is. Many students will initially gravitate towards rankings as their default target school list. Many applicant school lists will be left littered with the historic elite of graduate business education, with programs like Harvard, Stanford, and Kellogg consistently making appearances for unqualified applicants.

These schools top the rankings year in and year out and they do so for a reason: they are very difficult to gain admission to, with some acceptance rates in the single digits, making admission to these programs a rarity for the greater majority.

For those applicants who create their list based off of “fit”, they tend to have a bit more success in the application process. Now “fit” is not always as straightforward a concept as one might imagine when framed in the context of business school admissions. “Fit” should account for geographic, academic, professional, social, and school specific admissions criteria.

By utilizing fit, applicants can make sure that if admitted, the program properly addresses their development goals. However, adhering to the “fit” criteria above can be more difficult than it seems. Often candidates are not always completely honest when it comes to assessing where their profile may stand in comparison to the competition, so make sure to be as honest as possible with your own personal assessment.

The best approach is really to take both “fit” and the rankings into consideration to create your target school list. Identify the programs that fit your criteria both quantitatively and qualitatively as an initial step, and then leverage various external rankings to tier your potential programs. Overall, creating your target school list is an inexact science that requires a bit more of a personal touch than simply following an arbitrary list created by media publications.

Utilize the guidance above to more effectively shape your target school list to ensure you optimize your chances of admissions success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Why a Top 10 MBA Program Might Not Be Your Best Match

MBA“I want to go to HBS…” I want to go to Stanford…” “I want to go to Wharton…” These are the cries of MBA candidates around the world when contemplating what business schools they want to attend. But these venerable institutions and others like them can’t possibly accept all interested students for a variety of reasons that include space, qualifications, and fit. Every year many students are forced to reevaluate their target school list.

Applicants should approach the school selection process with an open mind and use this as the basis to conduct research on the programs that best align with their unique needs. For some students, profile limitations like GPA, GMAT, or work experience can restrict opportunities at higher ranked programs, so it makes sense to consider all alternatives.  Often lower-ranked schools are better aligned with the development needs of certain students. Some of the best programs for areas like entrepreneurship, operations, and supply chain management fall outside of the various rankings done every year. These programs can provide direct pipelines into career paths into these industries of interest.

Location should also be an area of note for aspiring MBAs. For some, targeting a specific location where the applicant wants to reside post-MBA is another smart strategy when identifying the ideal program. This is key because most schools have at the very least strong local recruiting within their geographic area. This strategy will increase the likelihood of landing at a target firm. These schools will often also have stronger alumni networks in their geographic region that trump higher ranked programs, so choose wisely.

A complimentary approach is identifying MBA programs close to target recruiters. For example if a career in Venture Capital is important then the west coast or Silicon Valley in particular should influence the school selection process. Interested in oil and gas? Then researching the local MBA programs in the state of Texas is a no brainer and would make more sense than pursuing admission at some higher rated programs outside the state.

Finally, some students just may not be academically equipped to perform or compete at certain MBA programs. Intense academic rigor, heavy workloads, and cumbersome pre-requisite coursework make some lower ranked programs a more comfortable academic environment.

Don’t be constrained by the various school rankings on the market. Create your own list that allows you to pick the program that makes the most sense for YOU!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

Financial Times MBA Rankings for 2012

MBA Rankings 2012The Financial Times has just released its new global MBA rankings for 2012. For the first time in the history of the FT rankings, Stanford grabs the top spot, pushing London Business School and Wharton (Which were tied for #1 in 2011) down to #2. Stanford becomes only the fourth school to sit atop the FT rankings, joining LBS, Wharton, and Harvard for that distinction.

Without further ado, here are the Financial Times’ top ten global MBA programs for 2012:
Continue reading “Financial Times MBA Rankings for 2012”

U.S. News Business School Rankings for 2012

U.S. NewsEarlier this week U.S. News & Word Report released its annual business school rankings for 2012. As we write every year, it’s easy for applicants to get too caught up in the rankings and obsess over details such as a school “plunging” from 8th to 11th in the rankings. Ignoring the rankings as you research business schools would be silly, but using them as any more than a useful starting point can only lead to trouble.

Still, it’s human nature: When someone ranks something — anything — we can’t help but take notice and pick apart the rankings at least a little. Without further ado, here’s a look at the top 20 U.S. programs as defined by U.S. News. Each school’s previous rankings follows in parentheses:
Continue reading “U.S. News Business School Rankings for 2012”

Businessweek to Release New Undergrad Business School Rankings Today

Business School RankingsToday at 5:15pm EST, Bloomberg Businessweek will host a live chat to announce its 2011 undergraduate business school rankings.  Will Notre Dame hold onto the top spot in the rankings? Could UVA or MIT make the leap to the #1 position?

Even if you’re not considering a BBA, there are some interesting stats and trends to follow in the undergraduate rankings.  The salary and job placement statistics year-to-year can provide insight into the health of the typical MBA feeder industries (consulting, banking, brand management), and the rankings of the MBA feeder programs can demonstrate some insight into your competition for MBA programs down the road.  Washington University (St. Louis) – Olin was the top-ranked MBA feeder program in 2010, with Cornell, Berkeley, MIT, and Virginia following.  (Do note, however, that these are statistics just for business programs and not for undergraduate institutions as a whole, and that MBA feeder universities like Princeton and Harvard do not even have undergraduate b-schools).
Continue reading “Businessweek to Release New Undergrad Business School Rankings Today”

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings for 2010

BusinessWeek MBA RankingsThis just in! Bloomberg BusinessWeek has just unveiled its new business school rankings for 2010. In a live chat, BusinessWeek editors Louis Lavelle and Geoff Gloeckler counted down the rankings of the top 30 MBA programs in the United States.

U.S. News and BusinessWeek vie for the title of most closely watched business schools rankings. While it’s debatable as to whether the BusinessWeek MBA ranking system or the U.S. News ranking system is more valid, the fact that BW’s rankings only come out every two years always makes this announcement a little extra exciting. To its credit, BusinessWeek does a good job of building up the drama with its online chat format for announcing their business school rankings.

Without further ado, here are the top 30 U.S. business schools:
Continue reading “BusinessWeek MBA Rankings for 2010”

Economist MBA Rankings for 2010

Recently The Economist released the 2010 edition of its global business school rankings. As the editors of The Economist noted in their introduction to this year’s rankings, “Usually, schools move up or down just a few places year on year. This time around, however, swings have been wilder.”

Why the big changes? Blame the global economy. Digging deeper into The Economist’s rankings methodology, you’ll see that the “Open new career opportunities” and “Increase salary” categories together make up more than half of the overall score a school earns. Naturally, as the rough economy meant that some schools had an especially hard time placing grads in high-paying jobs (or, in some cases, in any jobs at all), those programs took a hit in the rankings.

Without further ado, here are the top 20 schools in the rankings:

The Economist Business School Rankings – 2010

  1. University of Chicago – Booth School of Business
  2. Dartmouth College – Tuck School of Business
  3. University of California at Berkeley – Haas School of Business
  4. Harvard Business School
  5. IESE Business School – University of Navarra
  6. IMD – International Institute for Management Development
  7. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  8. University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School
  9. HEC School of Management, Paris
  10. York University – Schulich School of Business
  11. University of Virginia – Darden Graduate School of Business
  12. Columbia Business School
  13. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT Sloan School of Management
  14. New York University – Leonard N Stern School of Business
  15. Cranfield School of Management
  16. Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
  17. Henley Business School
  18. University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business
  19. London Business School
  20. ESADE Business School

How to Use These Rankings
When you start researching your target MBA programs, of course it make sense to pay to the rankings. Simply by existing, the rankings influence other applicants, employers, faculty members, and other key people. However, trying to discern which is better of two programs when one program is ranked higher by U.S. News and the other ranks higher in The Economist’s rankings… Well, that’s not really the point. Use the rankings to help yourself get a feel for the “lay of the land,” to determine what level of program competitiveness you might have a shot at, and to spot programs with specific strengths you might otherwise have missed. Then, do your own research (our free Annual Reports can help you a great deal here) and decide what programs fit you best.

Plan on applying to a top MBA program this year? Veritas Prep gives you the ability to start working with an admissions consultant today and pay over time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

U.S. News MBA Rankings Survey to Gather GRE Data This Year

U.S. NewsScore one more point for Educational Testing Service (ETS) in its effort to take market share from the GMAT as the preferred test for business school admissions. On his Morse Code Blog, U.S. News Director of Data Research Robert Morse announced that this fall’s U.S. News survey will ask admissions offices detailed questions on GRE test scores and the number and the percentage Class of 2012 students who submitted them.

Morse stopped short of promising that U.S. News‘s 2012 MBA rankings (which will be published next spring) will contain GRE data, but said that U.S. News “is considering changing its ranking methodology for the 2012 edition of the America’s Best Business Schools rankings… to include both the GMAT and GRE test scores of all M.B.A. students entering in fall 2010.”


In his blog post Morse points out that nearly 27% of the graduate business schools that U.S. News last surveyed are currently accepting GRE scores for admissions. Assuming that U.S. News does eventually decide to include GRE data in its rankings, it will be interesting to see how it manages it given that the majority of top schools still do not accept the GRE. Will it blend GRE and GMAT data by looking just at percentile scores? Will they only include GRE numbers when school report them, and ignore them otherwise? Could some schools have an incentive to include or exclude GRE data to manipulate their rankings, similar to what law schools have been doing with their employment data? It will be interesting to see.

While we still believe that the GMAT is the best predictor of how someone will do in business school, there’s no denying that ETS has made impressive strides this past year in promoting the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT. If you’re an applicant, the question to ask is, “What do I want?” If you’re considering a variety of graduate program options (including business school), then the GRE may make sense. If you’re certain you really want to pursue an MBA, though, it’s still difficult to justify choosing the GRE over the GMAT. We’ve written about this decision at length, and still feel the same way.

Thinking about taking the GMAT? Visit our site for a GMAT course overview to see why thousands of applicants choose Veritas Prep every year. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter so that you don’t miss a beat in the worlds of GMAT prep and MBA admissions!

U.S. News MBA Rankings for 2011

Last week U.S. News & Word Report released its annual business school rankings for 2011. As we wrote about the law school rankings the other day, it’s easy to get too caught up in the rankings and let the tail wag the proverbial dog in choosing which schools to apply to or attend. (Heck, we have one client right now who’s not sure he wants to attend Cornell — on a full ride! — because it “plunged” from 17 to 18 in the rankings this year! We pointed him to this post.)

Having said that, it’s too much fun NOT to pick apart the new business school rankings a little. Without further ado, here’s our look at this year’s results:

U.S. News Business School Rankings for 2011
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.

1. Harvard (1)
1. Stanford (2)
3. MIT (Sloan) (5)
4. Northwestern (Kellogg) (3)
5. U. of Chicago (Booth) (5)
5. U. of Pennsylvania (Wharton) (3)
7. Dartmouth (Tuck) (8)
7. UC Berkeley (Haas) (7)
9. Columbia (9)
9. NYU (Stern) (11)
11. Yale (10)
12. U. of Michigan (Ross) (13)
13. U. of Virginia (Darden) (15)
14. Duke (Fuqua) (12)
15. UCLA (Anderson) (14)
16. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) (15)
16. UT Austin (McCombs) (18)
18. Cornell (Johnson) (17)
19. Washington U. in St. Louis (Olin)
20. USC (Marshall) (20)

What Changed in This Year’s MBA Rankings?
Among top-10 and top-20 business schools, you won’t see a lot of dramatic changes. While Harvard hangs in to the top slot, it now shares it with Stanford. MIT Sloan nabbed the #3 spot (passing Kellogg and Wharton) after sharing the fifth slot with Booth last year. Wharton can’t be happy about falling from #3 to #5, although we’re sure their answer would be (as it is for all top schools), “We don’t pay attention to the rankings.”

One of the more interesting stories that’s played out over the past few years is NYU Stern’s steady march up the rankings, to the point where it’s now tied with Columbia in the race to be New York City’s highest-ranked business school. What matters far more is the substance of each program, of course, but we’ve long considered Stern to be the more innovative of these two schools, and that view is somewhat confirmed by these results. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years… Will Stern finally overtake Columbia? Will its push to diversify away from being so finance-heavy allow it to boost its placement numbers and leapfrog its uptown competitor, or will that prove to be is undoing?

Rounding out the list, kudos to Wash. U. and USC for making it into the top 20 (bumping out Georgetown and UNC in the process). Around the office the other day we marveled at how Wash. U. has top-20 ranked undergraduate, business, law, and medicine programs… It’s a wonder that people don’t talk about this school more often.

Well, only 51 weeks to go until U.S. News’ 2012 business school rankings come out! While you’re waiting, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. We have specialized services built just for helping waitlisted applicants get admitted to business school. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Applicationomics: Admissions Committee Incentives

MBA AdmissionsPeople respond to incentives. Such is the main takeaway from the bestselling book Freakonomics (and its soon-to-premiere documentary and follow-up book SuperFreakonomics), and a major competitive advantage worth embracing as you plan your MBA applications. Admissions committees are people, too, and they respond to incentives. To become a better MBA applicant, you should better understand the incentive structure for MBA admissions committees, and give them what they want.

MBA programs are ranked among multiple dimensions, among the most popular:


1) GMAT Score
There’s no way around it: your GMAT score is a significant component of your application, as it matters greatly to MBA programs. Even independent of the fact the GMAT is a quite valid measure of your candidacy, it’s a major factor for the schools even as a standalone number. In our ever-quantitative society – the very fact that there are numerical business school rankings should prove this point – numbers can instantly create an image of success, and a school with a 700+ average GMAT score is going to look quite a bit more prestigious than one with something in the 600s.

In the rankings and perception of b-schools, a high average GMAT score is the best way for a school to indicate that it is selective, and has a top-notch student body. Schools simply have to care about how that number looks to the rankings services, to prospective applicants, and to corporate recruiters. Accordingly, you’re well served to post a score that is at or above the average score of your target schools. If you’re below that average, the school has to want you enough to pull down that average a bit by taking you; if you’re above, you get to be that “balancing score” for someone else, which is a huge advantage. Just being “in the range” is a tricky proposition.

2) Employment rates
People go to business school to get jobs and increase their salaries. As much as applicants and schools talk about leadership, teamwork, global economies and sustainable enterprise, everyone knows that the primary objective of MBA students is to further their careers with a higher-paying job when they finish than they had when they started. Schools, in turn, know that they will be judged on their ability to provide those jobs, and necessarily have to concern themselves with statistics such as:

– % employed after graduation
– average starting salary

Because schools know that you’ll consider these factors when you determine where to apply, they have a vested interest in making those numbers as high as possible. And what better way to do that than to “stack the deck” with students who are quite likely to find jobs?

In your application, you need to demonstrate “employability,” or your ability to find a job:

  1. Show that you’ve been valued at previous jobs by listing promotions and commendations and by including positive letters of recommendations from supervisors
  2. Demonstrate your ability to succeed in an interview with engaging essays and a strong interview with the school
  3. “Stand out” somehow by being interesting; many corporate interviewers employ a variation of the “airport test” when they choose between qualified candidates: “If I were on a project with this person and we were stranded in an airport with a canceled flight, would I enjoy passing the time with him?” Interviewers typically choose applicants with whom they’ll work regularly, and want to surround themselves with engaging, as well as talented, people, so give the schools an indication that you’ll be a desirable coworker.

3) Yield Percentage
If the average GMAT score tells the world how selective a school is in choosing candidates, the yield percentage – the percentage of admitted students who ultimately matriculate – indicates how selective students view the school. A high yield percentage – something nearing 90% – shows that the school is a no-brainer to attend: if you get in, you go. A lower yield percentage – say, in the 30s – shows that many students use the school as a backup plan, but don’t view it as a destination. “I’d love to go to Harvard, but I’ll probably just end up at ___________.”

No school wants to be seen as that “probably just end up at” fallback option, so admissions committees will search your application for indicators that you have specific interest in their MBA and not just any MBA. Have you visited campus? Do you list specific clubs/classes/professors/opportunities as reasons that you’re excited about the program? Do the schools philosophies, emphases, and culture fit with your application story?

If the school can’t find reasons that you would choose it, it will have a hard time choosing you, no matter how excellent you may be as an applicant. Your admission may just prove to be too much of a risk, as, perhaps, is your lack of perceived enthusiasm. B-school moves fast; if you don’t have a plan of attack for getting involved in organizations, taking specific classes, and soaking up the experience, you won’t likely get everything out of the program that your classmates will. Which also leads to…

4) Alumni Involvement
Business schools are, in many ways, like fraternities. Once you’re in, you’re family, and have access to a vast alumni network of potential employers, business partners, investors, etc. Schools know that applicants want to have access to successful, wide-reaching alumni bases, and to that end set up active alumni clubs and events around the world. But an alumni base is only as active and successful as the alumni themselves, and so schools like to see indications in your application that you have enthusiasm for what the school has to offer, and a history of involvement in organizations and activities that will translate to involvement in the alumni community.

As alumni bases are made up of people, so are admissions committees, and people respond to incentives. If you understand these incentives of the people in the admissions committees, you can better anticipate the response that you want — you’re accepted!

For more MBA admissions advice, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a Veritas Prep admissions expert. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Financial Times MBA Rankings for 2010

Financial Times
The Financial Times has just released its 2010 business school rankings, with London Business School remaining in the #1 spot. This comes after LBS and Wharton actually shared the #1 position in last year’s rankings.

Accompanying the rankings, FT release an article called How to Choose a Programme, in which our own Director of MBA Admissions Research, Scott Shrum, is quoted. As is always the case, we strongly advise applicants to focus on many other things besides just the rankings when selecting a business school”

“Begin with the end in mind,” advises Scott Shrum, director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep in California. “Where have other students landed jobs? Call the careers office to find out which companies recruit at the school. If you’re an international student, find out how many of the recruiters are generally willing to sponsor work visas.”

As you whittle down your list of prospective schools, be sure to leave time for campus visits. Take a tour, sit in on a class, eat lunch in the dining hall, meet the professors and talk to students and alumni. “The best way to figure out whether a school is a good fit is to visit it,” says Shrum. “Most people know within the first hour whether they love a school or whether it’s just not clicking for them. The culture of the school is going to dictate how happy you are.”

The FT’s top ten programs in 2010 are:

  1. London Business School
  2. Wharton
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. Stanford GSB
  5. INSEAD
  6. Columbia Business School
  7. IE Business School
  8. MIT Sloan
  9. Chicago Booth
  10. Hong Kong UST

Big gainers vs. last year include Booth (which cracked the top ten), HKUST, Indian School of Business, and HEC Paris. Meanwhile, CEIBS, NYU Stern (which dropped out of the top ten), and Cambridge saw the biggest declines among the top MBA programs.

For a deeper comparison of how the programs performed in this year’s rankings vs. the previous year’s, FT.com offers this handy downloadable document.

To get a feel for your chances of admission to a top MBA program, try Veritas Prep’s Business School Selector, an absolutely free resource for all MBA applicants. If you’re ready to start planning your candidacy, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

2010 U.S. News MBA Rankings Leaked… We Think

While the U.S. News 2010 Business School Rankings won’t come out until later this week, online communities have been buzzing with the possibility that U.S. News accidentally leaked its rankings in a short online video. U.S. News released a short video giving an overview of grad school trends, and in the video you can see the magazines business school rankings. While the image was small, it only took hours for eagle-eyed MBA applicants to analyze the image and determine what the new rankings are.

(UPDATE: U.S. news released the official rankings on April 23, and the rankings below do indeed appear to be correct.)

While this list is very unofficial and have not yet been confirmed by U.S. News, here are the top 20 schools in the alleged 2010 U.S. News MBA rankings:

Current rank [Previous rank] School Name (Rating) [Previous Rating]
1 [1] Harvard (100) [100]
2 [1] Stanford (99) [100]
3 [4] Northwestern (93) [93]
3 [3] Penn (93) [95]
5 [4] MIT (92) [93]
6 [4] Chicago (91) [93]
7 [7] Berkeley (88) [89]
8 [7] Dartmouth (87) [89]
9 [9] Columbia (86) [88]
10 [13] Yale (85) [80]
11 [10] NYU (83) [84]
12 [14] Duke (82) [79]
13 [12] Michigan (81) [82]
14 [11] UCLA (80) [83]
15 [17] Carnegie Mellon (79) [77]
15 [14] UVA (79) [79]
17 [14] Cornell (76) [79]
18 [18] Texas-Austin (74) [74]
19 [22] Georgetown (73) [69]
20 [19] UNC (70) [72]
20 [21] USC (70) [70]

You can see the full video here. The image that we captured here (taken from that U.S. New video) shows up 52 seconds into the clip.

While the allegedly leaked MBA rankings represent the most sensational part of the video, it’s also worth watching to learn about U.S. News’ first annual part-time law school rankings, which are dominated by schools in the Northwest (especially Washington, D.C.).

It will be interesting to see if these turn out to be the real rankings, but if so, then the online community deserves some kudos for some good detective work!

For more information about applying to top business schools, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA admissions consultants and GMAT prep resources, and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Times Business School Rankings for 2009

The Financial Times has just released its 2009 business school rankings, with Wharton and London Business School sharing the top spot.

There were a couple of notable milestones in this year’s FT rankings. LBS reached the #1 slot for the first time, breaking Wharton and Harvard Business School’s joint stranglehold on the #1 slot. Also notable was that for the first time an Asian business school cracked the top ten — Shanghai-based China European International Business School (CEIBS) came in at #8. Joining CEIBS in the top twenty were two other schools from Asia: The Indian School of Business ranked at #15, and the Hong Kong UST Business School was ranked #16.

You can see the full Financial Times rankings here. To learn what it takes to get into the world’s top business schools, visit Veritas Prep’s MBA Application Resources page. Also, for more updates on school rankings, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter.

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings for 2008

This just in! In an online chat, BusinessWeek has just revealed its 2008 business school rankings. Without further ado, here are the top 25 U.S. MBA programs for 2008:

1. Chicago (Booth)
2. Harvard Business School
3. Northwestern (Kellogg)
4. Penn (Wharton)
5. Michigan (Ross)
6. Stanford
7. Columbia
8. Duke (Fuqua)
9. MIT (Sloan)
10. UC Berkeley (Haas)
11. Cornell (Johnson)
12. Dartmouth (Tuck)
13. NYU (Stern)
14. UCLA (Anderson)
15. Indiana (Kelley)
16. Virginia (Darden)
17. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)
18. Southern Methodist (Cox)
19. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
20. Notre Dame(Mendoza)
21. UT Austin (McCombs)
22. BYU (Marriott)
23. Emory (Goizueta)
24. Yale
25. USC (Marshall)

And here are the top ten MBA programs outside of the United States:

1. Queen’s School of Business
2. IE Business School
3. INSEAD
4. Western Ontario (Ivey)
5. London Business School
6. ESADE
7. IMD
8. Toronto (Rotman)
9. IESE
10. Oxford (Said)

U.S. News and BusinessWeek vie for the title of most closely watched business schools rankings. While it’s debatable as to whether the BusinessWeek MBA ranking system or the U.S. News ranking system is more valid, the fact that BW’s rankings only come out every two years always makes this announcement a little extra exciting. To its credit, BusinessWeek does a good job of building up the drama with its online chat format for announcing their business school rankings.

For more help with the business school application process, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA admissions consulting services. Also, for more updates on school rankings, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter.

March Madness B-School Rankings

Brian recently posted up a nice article comparing the NCAA Tournament Season to the MBA application season, with some very sound advice. I, however, am going to take the onset of March Madness in another direction.

Everybody loves to look at school rankings. It’s how we determine the top business schools in the country. Every ranking uses its own criteria to determine the best schools, and these criteria can be quite complicated. But today, I offer you a much simpler ranking. These are the Top 25 business schools, based on their current AP Men’s Basketball Ranking. I tried to add the actual name of each business school in parentheses, but as many of these schools rarely grace the upper echelons of other, more “traditional” business school rankings, I couldn’t find them all. Also, some just don’t have them.

NCAA’s Top 25 Business Schools

1. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
2. Memphis (Fogelman)
3. UCLA (Anderson)
4. Tennessee
5. Kansas
6. Texas (McCombs)
7. Duke (Fuqua)
8. Wisconsin
9. Georgetown (McDonough)
10. Xavier
11. Stanford
12. Butler
13. Louisville
14. Notre Dame (Mendoza)
15. Connecticut
16. Drake
17. Purdue (Krannert)
18. Vanderbilt
19. Michigan St. (Broad)
20. Gonzaga
21. Washington St.
22. Indiana (Kelley)
23. Davidson
24. BYU (Marriott)
25. Marquette

Should you decide to use my rankings in your search for a business school*, I do hope they prove useful. And if not, consider yourself well-informed for the start of the NCAA Tournament, which is rapidly approaching.

*Please note that while college basketball is extremely exciting, most experts would probably agree that you shouldn’t base your decision to attend a given MBA program on the success of the school’s basketball team.

Financial Times 2008 Rankings

Financial Times released its newest business school rankings the other day. While Wharton remains at the top, this year did have some big changes (such as Dartmouth & Yale dropping 6 places each, and MIT jumping 7 places). The Indian School of Business and Hong Kong UST Business School are newcomers to this year’s Top 20, and we bid a farewell this year to UCLA: Anderson, Northwestern University: Kellogg, and University of Michigan: Ross.

Financial Times Top 20 Business Schools
1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
2. London Business School
3. Columbia Business School
4. Stanford University GSB
5. Harvard Business School
6. INSEAD
7. MIT: Sloan
8. IE Business School
9. University of Chicago GSB
10. University of Cambridge: Judge
11. Ceibs (China)
11. IESE Business School
13. New York University: Stern
14. IMD
15. Dartmouth College: Tuck
16. Yale School of Management
17. Hong Kong UST Business School
18. HEC Paris
19. University of Oxford: Said
20. Indian School of Business

Also check out: Last Year’s Top Schools

Source: Financial Times 2008 Business School Rankings

Economist Top 20 Business Schools

The Economist Business School rankings for 2007 have been released. The Economist rankings are determined by a combination of four factors: recent alumni, increase in salary/networking potential, new career opportunities, and personal development/educational opportunities. What’s really cool though is that they have an interactive list on their site (link below), which allows you to sort the schools by various categories and/or regions.

For example, which American school will provide you with the highest final salary? A quick selection from the drop-down menu will provide you with the result (it’s Stanford, for those interested).

Economist Top 20 Business Schools

1. University of Chicago
2. Stanford
3. IESE Business School
4. Dartmouth (Tuck)
5. IMD
6. Berkeley (Haas)
7. University of Cambridge (Judge)
8. NYU (Stern)
9. IE Business School
10. Henley Management College
11. Cranfield School of Management
12. University of Michigan (Ross)
13. Harvard Business School
14. Northwestern (Kellogg)
15. London Business School
16. MIT (Sloan)
17. INSEAD
18. Columbia Business School
19. Ashridge
20. Hong Kong University: School of Business and Management

Note: For some reason, UCLA: Anderson was not included in the rankings at all. There were other schools not included, but since Anderson is a consistent Top 20, I feel it’s worth mentioning.

Source: Economist Rankings

2007 Wall Street Journal Rankings

The Wall Street Journal released their business school rankings last night. The WSJ rankings are always interesting, because they are solely the result of recruiters’ opinions. Nevertheless, people like to see how schools rank, so here you go! I’ve listed only the top North American “National” schools, as these are the schools you are likely to see in the other rankings.

Top National Schools (North America)

1. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
2. Berkeley (Haas)
3. Columbia
4. MIT (Sloan)
5. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
6. UNC, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
7. Michigan (Ross)
8. Yale
9. University of Chicago
10. University of Virginia (Darden)
11. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
12. Northwestern (Kellogg)
13. Duke (Fuqua)
14. Harvard Business School
15. UCLA (Anderson)
16. Cornell (Johnson)
17. NYU (Stern)
18. University of Southern California (Marshall)
19. Stanford

Source: 2007 WSJ Rankings

US News 2008 Rankings

US News just released its business school rankings for next year, with little change from last year. Within the Top 20, there was some movement (most notably UCLA’s drop from 10 to 16), but there’s nothing absolutely unexpected in the list. It should be noted that because of the data used to compute these rankings, drastic changes aren’t extremely common. This does, however, attest to the consistency of school’s on the list.

US News Top 20

1. Harvard
2. Stanford
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4. MIT (Sloan)
5. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
5. University of Chicago
7. Dartmouth (Tuck)
8. Berkeley (Haas)
9. Columbia University
10. NYU (Stern)
11. Michigan (Ross)
12. Duke (Fuqua)
12. University of Virginia (Darden)
14. Cornell (Johnson)
14. Yale
16. UCLA (Anderson)
17. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
18. UNC, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
18. University of Texas (McCombs)
20. Emory University (Goizueta)

Check out the rest of the list here.

Financial Times Rankings

Financial Times has released their 2007 Global MBA Rankings; based primarily on alumni successes, intellectual capital held by the program, and the international focus of the program. It’s interesting to see the different criteria used to judge international programs versus US business schools.

1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
2. Columbia Business School
3. Harvard Business School
3. Stanford University GSB
5. London Business School
6. University of Chicago GSB
7. INSEAD
8. New York University: Stern
9. Dartmouth College: Tuck
10. Yale School of Management
11. Ceibs (China)
11. Instituto de Empresa
13. IMD
14. MIT: Sloan
15. University of Cambridge: Judge
16. IESE Business School
17. UCLA: Anderson
18. HEC Paris
19. Northwestern University: Kellogg
19. University of Michigan: Ross
19. University of Oxford: Said

New Survey Provides Different Ways to Rank Schools

Traditionally, business school rankings hold a lot of clout, and schools push to be at the top of these lists. But for applicants, it can be hard to figure out truly what the differences are between the #1 and #2 schools. However, a new Princeton Review survey aims to help with this, by ranking schools in various categories. So while Harvard sits atop the “toughest to get into” list, it only hits #10 on the “best overall academic experience” list.

By looking at how the schools stack up category by category, prospective students can theoretically gain a better understanding than just looking at overall rankings.

You can read more about this survey here: A guide through the business school maze