A Whole New World for MBAs

Back in 1988, BusinessWeek came up with the idea of ranking business schools. Rather than polling deans or using questionable statistics, we decided to ask the people who matter most: the students themselves and the recruiters who hire them. In the jargon of business, it was a customer survey. And it was a stunner. Some of the best schools responded by changing their programs based on what we found.

Our biennial ranking of the Top B-schools is now well established. But the results still contain some surprises. For one thing, the world changed dramatically in midstream for members of the MBA Class of 2002. They started school in the boom and left with expectations dashed by the stock market's steady fall, September 11, and corporate scandals. This year's survey heralds a shift in business education away from the dominance of Wall Street and finance and back to general management skills.

Our survey also reflects a weakening job market. With 20% of MBA grads from this year's survey still pounding the pavement, the best-ranked programs are the ones that give students an edge during tough economic times. And recruiters have become more critical of the grads--and the schools--where they recruit.

Our ranking is just part of the story. Every day, BusinessWeek Online's B-Schools Channel is packed with the best information and tools available anywhere for the B-school community, including interactive profiles to search and compare more than 275 schools by admissions, tuition, areas of concentration, faculty, and payback time. Plus, we have student diaries and the world's most active business-schools message board. Log in at businessweek.com/bschools/.

"The Best B-Schools" is the combined effort of Staff Editor Jennifer Merritt, Workplace Editor Michelle Conlin, Scoreboards Editor Frederick F. Jespersen, and Senior Editor Elizabeth Weiner, as well as BusinessWeek Online reporter Brian Hindo, producer Jessica Loudon, and developers Joshua Tanzer and Matt Kopit. As inventor of the rankings, Senior Writer John Byrne provided guidance. Interns Geoff Gloeckler and Ana Mantica were thoughtful and tireless assistants.

BusinessWeek's Best B-School ranking is truly about value--the value that an MBA education adds to a graduate's résumé and the value these grads add to the companies that hire them. We think you'll find it valuable reading.

By Stephen B. Shepard, Editor-in-Chief

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.