What Counts in the Ranking

Which Executive MBA programs are the best? That's the question BusinessWeek set out to answer in its first ranking of executive MBA programs across the globe in a decade. Since our 1991 ranking, we have published every two years an unranked alphabetical listing of the top programs, based on a poll of EMBA program directors about their rivals. But to develop a ranked list, we added a survey of recent grads of EMBA programs.

We identified 82 schools with EMBA programs that met the three criteria for inclusion. First, the school had to be accredited by the AACSB International, the U.S. accrediting body, or by the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), its European counterpart. Schools had to have at least 25 students in the most recent graduating class, and EMBA programs had to be at least four years old.

We enlisted the help of Cambria Consulting Inc. in Boston to help administer our surveys over the Internet. For the student survey, we contacted students from the most recent graduating class in 2001. We sent a 40-question survey to 5,052 EMBA graduates and got 3,041 replies, for a response rate of 60%.

Grads were asked to answer most questions on a scale of 1 to 5; an answer of 1 meant poor, while 5 was excellent. The questions addressed the students' experience at their schools and focused on everything from teaching quality to level of support services to curriculum flexibility. For the directors' poll, we asked the 82 EMBA program directors for their views on which 10 schools, excluding their own, offered the highest-quality programs. We got 55 responses, for a response rate of 67%.

The surveys of graduates and directors each accounted for 50% of a school's score. We standardized the scores from both polls, adjusted the total to eliminate possible bias against smaller schools, and added up the scores. Schools with too few grad responses were disqualified. Because most EMBA directors didn't distinguish between a B-school's flagship program and its global offering, we ranked only the main program of each school.

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