Booth, Kellogg drop in MBA rankings and methodology is questioned
Chicago’s two highly touted MBA factories slipped in new rankings by Bloomberg Businessweek, while programs at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were among the fastest climbers.
After finishing at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, last month in an Economist survey, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business fell to fourth and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management to ninth on Bloomberg’s 2016 list. Last year, Booth was second and Kellogg third.
It’s the lowest spot ever for Kellogg since the rankings debuted in 1988 and the worst showing since 2000 for Booth. Each school has been No. 1 five times, according to John Byrne, who helped pioneer B-school rankings at BusinessWeek (as the publication was then known) and now blogs on the MBA world at PoetsAndQuants.com, a website devoted to the coverage of business schools.
“This ranking is a better reflection of our career placement success,” U of I College of Business Dean Jeffrey Brown said. “We have revamped the curriculum with new faculty to include an action learning component in which students work directly with companies on real problems during every semester of the program.”
Kellogg says it doesn’t comment on rankings.
After Bloomberg acquired the magazine in 2009, the once-biennial list has been published annually since 2012, when a calculation error forced a reranking.
Byrne writes that the list has seen dramatic changes in the methodology three different approaches now in four years and the wild up-and-down swings in ranks for many schools even though little, if anything, has changed from one year to the next.
He tells Crain’s: These results are odd, to say the least. No one in the industry would ever put (No. 8) Rice University’s MBA program above Kellogg, and no MBA applicant would accept an invite from Rice over Northwestern.
This year, as was the case last year, 35 percent of the scoring is derived from employer surveys and another 30 percent from alumni input. Feedback from alums was the weakest category for Booth (ranking at 36th out of all 87 schools on the list) and Kellogg (19th).
In contrast, Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business rose to No. 25 on the Bloomberg list from No. 31, propelled by a No. 6 ranking in the alumni category. Illinois, where a new B-school dean is aiming to leverage university strengths in computer and other science programs, moved to 44th from 57th, with a top-20 showing in job placement.
Byrne says Kellogg’s performance could have been affected by turnover at the top of its career management center and a small share (a record low 13 percent) of grads going into finance, which could hurt the school with financial recruiters. He says Booth’s No. 4 ranking, behind Harvard, Stanford and Duke, is more sensical, adding: It still remains ahead of (No. 6) Wharton in this ranking, and Wharton is its more natural rival among many applicants.