How We Did It

As part of our biennial ranking of the best executive MBA programs, BusinessWeek relies on two surveys -- a poll of recent graduates and a survey of EMBA program directors. The first gives us an on-the-ground look at customer satisfaction, the second provides a sense of each programs' reputation.

This year, BusinessWeek, with the help of Boston-based Cambria Consulting Inc., surveyed more than 3,400 members of the 2005 graduating class at 64 programs, garnering a 60% response rate, and 61 EMBA program directors, receiving a 61% response rate. We asked grads about everything from teaching quality to the caliber of their classmates, using their answers to specific questions to award letter grades for teaching, curriculum, and support; to rank the best programs by subject area; and to examine changes in student satisfaction over the years (see "Behind the Rankings,"

Combined with student surveys from 2001 and 2003, the student responses contributed 65% of the total score, which determines each program's place in the rankings. The other 35% was supplied by the directors, who were asked to identify 10 programs they consider the best, excluding their own.

In an effort to get a more accurate read on the best programs, this year BusinessWeek made two major changes to its methodology. When calculating the student score, we took into account three years of survey data, with the 2005 survey counting for 50% of the score and the 2003 and 2001 surveys counting for 25% each. In 2003, the 2003 survey counted for 66% of the score, while the 2001 survey counted for 33%. The second change involved the calculation of the total score. Instead of equally weighting the student and director surveys, as we did in 2003, this year we overweighted the student survey, as noted above. Our goal was to assign the most weight to the individuals with the most direct knowledge of the programs they're judging, and the changes do that. Combined, the two changes give students -- particularly the most recent class -- more influence over the final ranking.

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