Chat Transcript: 2010 B-School Ranking

Bloomberg Businessweek editors Louis Lavelle and Geoff Gloeckler answer questions about the ranking of the world's top MBA programs

There were few surprises in Bloomberg Businessweek's 2010 Best B-Schools ranking: University of Chicago's Booth School of Business (Booth Full-Time MBA Profile) held on to the top spot. Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile), University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (Wharton Full-Time MBA Profile), Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg Full-Time MBA Profile), and Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford Full-Time MBA Profile) round out the top five. But for fans and critics alike, the announcement of the new rankings provides plenty of grist for analysis, argument, and debate.

Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek editors Louis Lavelle (LouisBW) and Geoff Gloeckler (GeoffBW) fielded questions about everything from the ranking methodology to major trends to the surprises on the list during a live chat event moderated by reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW). Here are edited excerpts from their conversation.

friedlander2: What factors do you take into account to determine the ranking?

LouisBW: The factors are the same ones we take into account in every ranking—student satisfaction, recruiter opinions, and faculty research. We incorporate three different student rankings and three different recruiter rankings (2010, 2008, and 2006) and five years' worth of faculty publications in 20 top journals.

Mithuh: Why did Washington University in St. Louis' Olin Business School (Olin Full-Time MBA Profile) fall out of the top 30?

GeoffBW: A low recruiter score (55th overall) is what hurt Olin. Olin is ranked 40th.

jasongarnergw: How much is each category of the methodology worth to determine the final ranking?

LouisBW: The student surveys combined count for 45 percent of the final ranking. The recruiter surveys combined count for another 45 percent. And the faculty publication record, or intellectual capital, counts for 10 percent.

derekkrouner: Why did Columbia Business School (Columbia Full-Time MBA Profile) drop from seven to nine?

GeoffBW: Columbia's drop was mostly because of a decline in student satisfaction compared to 2008. Recruiters still speak very highly of the school and job numbers are good, as well, comparatively.

Indver: What new factors were taken into account this year?

LouisBW: There were no new factors, but we really expanded the number of ranked programs in both the U.S. and international rankings.

HOKUM: Why did University of Michigan's Ross School of Business (Ross Full-Time MBA Profile) drop in the rankings?

GeoffBW: Michigan is quite strong all around, actually. Its raw recruiter number dropped a little, which accounts for the drop, but it still ranks No. 5 overall in the eyes of employers.

mkander: When and where will the complete list of best business schools be published?

LouisBW: The easiest way to find them is to go to the Business Schools home page.

ttteeedddeee: I think that the biggest point of contention with these new rankings will be that Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business (Cox Full-Time MBA Profile) ranked 12th. How is this justified?

GeoffBW: SMU was helped by a strong recruiter score, especially from Texas-based companies. Students, overall, were satisfied. The main complaint came from students looking for work outside of the Southwest. This is reflected in Cox's three-month job offer percentage, which is the lowest in the top 30.

Damavand: In regard to faculty research, do some schools get an advantage based on the journals you are checking?

LouisBW: Not really. We have a list of 20 publications that cover all areas of research. The schools that do well are the ones that publish the most in the most prestigious journals.

inbrazil20: Why is Stanford only No. 5 when students speak so highly of the school? Is recruiting the problem?

GeoffBW: Recruiters actually think very highly of Stanford, as do students. That's why it moved up a spot in the ranking. It was sixth in 2008.

2010EMBA: What happened to New York University's Stern School of Business (Stern Full-Time MBA Profile)?

GeoffBW: Student satisfaction dipped a bit at Stern, as did the overall recruiter score. Many more companies expressed familiarity with the school, though, compared to 2008, which is good news for job-seekers.

hbs_reject: Which school moved up the most? SMU?

GeoffBW: Michigan State University's Broad Graduate School of Management (Broad Full-Time MBA Profile) moved up the most. It was in the second tier last year, if I recall. Broad improved considerably in student satisfaction. Grads specifically mentioned the leadership and teamwork training the school offers, especially through the supply chain IBM lab. Also, the small size allowed for a good deal of personalized career support.

richardlo: Will there be an explanation to show what caused certain schools to fall in the rankings?

LouisBW: The best way to do this is to compare this year's ranking to the 2008 ranking. If a school ranked No. 5 with students in 2008 and No. 15 with students in 2010, that's probably the reason it fell in the rankings. These numbers are available on the interactive tables that we published with each year's ranking.

ads7480: Why did Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business (Mendoza Full-Time MBA Profile) drop to the 24th spot?

GeoffBW: Student satisfaction went up a little, but the recruiter score fell. There were a few complaints about career services, but students say the alumni network makes up for it.

gotdaniel: Why did Indiana University's Kelley School of Business (Kelley Full-Time MBA Profile) fall to 19?

GeoffBW: Student satisfaction fell about 9 percent at Kelley, compared to 2008. There were mixed reviews from grads about the support provided by Kelley's Graduate Career Services. Grads had good things to say about the culture and the strong, engaged faculty.

arjuns: How did you account for the different size of each MBA program? For example, Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business (Tuck Full-Time MBA Profile) is smaller than Harvard.

LouisBW: We really don't. It's all about student and recruiter satisfaction. Small programs might give students more one-on-one time, but they might not be as attractive to recruiters. On both measures, though, I don't think Tuck or Harvard have anything to worry about.

dobi: What led to the rise in the ranking of University of Virginia's Darden School of Business (Darden Full-Time MBA Profile)?

GeoffBW: Darden is No. 1 in student satisfaction. Many grads mentioned the strong alumni network and the administrative support they received during the job search. Also, students like the school's engaging curriculum.

hw7777: Why did University of Maryland's Smith School of Business (Smith Full-Time MBA Profile) fall out of the top 30?

GeoffBW: Lower student satisfaction and fewer companies familiar with the program led to its fall.

tsenga: Why are the rankings in various business publications so different?

LouisBW: Different methodologies are the reason. We measure student and recruiter satisfaction. Others measure pay at graduation. Others survey alumni a few years out. All those things will result in different rankings.

socal: Did University of Chicago's Booth School score No. 1 in all three categories?

GeoffBW: Booth was No. 1 in the recruiter survey, No. 2 in the student survey, and No. 8 in intellectual capital.

CarolSunnucks: Do you have any plans to bring back the specialty category rankings?

LouisBW: It never went anywhere, Carol. We used to publish it with the rankings, but now we do it separately, usually a month or two after the rankings are released. Look for it in December or January.

RMD: Which schools had the highest recruiter scores and is there any relationship between recruiter rank and the size of the school?

GeoffBW: The top five schools in the recruiter rank are as follows: 1. Chicago 2. Wharton 3. Harvard 4. Kellogg and 5. Michigan. Because of the way the recruiter score is calculated, the size of the school isn't really a factor.

AdamR: University of Texas-Austin's McCombs School of Business (McCombs Full-Time MBA Profile) dropped four slots. What were the main factors?

GeoffBW: Student satisfaction increased a bit to the highest point since 2004, and more companies expressed familiarity with the program, but not as many ranked McCombs near the top, so the recruiter score fell. There were some complaints from grads about lack of job opportunities outside of Texas.

krueger6: What happened to the University of Washington's Foster School of Business (Foster Full-Time MBA Profile)?

GeoffBW: They just missed the top 30. They're 31.

texman: What was the response rate for both the grad and corporate surveys?

LouisBW: The student response rate was 55 percent this year, higher than last time, and the student survey score was based on more than 26,000 responses over three individual surveys (2010, 2008, and 2006). I'm not sure about the recruiter response rate, but we had a total of 680 responses over the three surveys.

inbrazil20: Why did UCLA's Anderson School of Management (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile) drop?

GeoffBW: It was because of its recruiter score this year. Not as many recruiters voiced familiarity with the school and its total score was not as high, either.

rgg4: What caused Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management (Marriott Full-Time MBA Profile) to slip?

GeoffBW: BYU's recruiter score dropped this year, with fewer companies expressing familiarity with the program. Student opinion is mixed, with some raves (low cost, focus on ethics, student venture capital fund) and some rants (difficulty finding consulting and investment banking jobs, lack of e-biz courses).

Hoopster: Why is the job placement ranking that was just released not factored into the rankings?

LouisBW: That's a good question. Job placement is obviously important, but we don't like to make any changes to the ranking methodology if we can avoid it; it makes it impossible to compare rankings from year to year. However, job placement plays into student satisfaction. This year especially, students who didn't find jobs weren't very happy.

Gucci: Is HEC Montreal ranked this year?

GeoffBW: No. 15 in the international rank.

WMSmales: What were some of the main factors to rank student satisfaction?

LouisBW: We ask questions on just about every aspect of the business school experience, including teaching, career services, faculty, curriculum, etc. They're all weighted equally.

richardlo: Were there any key trends in why certain scores were lower than previous years? Economy? Recruitment?

GeoffBW: Jobs were the main concern, by far. I was actually surprised that student satisfaction went up at a lot of schools, but I guess that says something about the situation the Class of 2008 was dealing with. It seemed like the Class of 2010 had somewhat lower expectations on the job front.

rayluther: As far as methodology, I really enjoyed the transparency of the Economist weightings for each criteria. Will Bloomberg Businessweek be providing something similar?

LouisBW: BW always provided a complete explanation of its methodology including how we weight different factors. There's a methodology story with the current rankings and an FAQ that's been up on our site for many years.

mkander: Where did the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business (Wisconsin Full-Time MBA Profile) rank?

GeoffBW: Thirty-fourth.

AdamR: Were average graduating salaries given a particular weight?

LouisBW: No, they weren't. We don't consider starting salaries or placement rates in our methodology. They're both included in our interactive tables, so you can see which schools had the highest (and lowest) salaries, but they have no impact on the ranking.

KXNT790: Could you discuss recurring themes or patterns that you identified related to the level of discontent or even apathy that students expressed about their overall school experience and with respect to career services and the job search?

GeoffBW: This is actually the main topic of the rankings story. Because the job search and recruiting process has changed so much, schools and students alike have been forced to approach the search differently to varying levels of success. There are definitely schools that took big hits because students were not satisfied with career services.

comebackkid: Which school ranks No. 1 in research?

GeoffBW: Duke University's Fuqua School of Business (Fuqua Full-Time MBA Profile).

icecorleone: How does SMU move to 12th considering it finished 30th among 30 schools in the latest BW employment data? Also, how many people even know what SMU is? Is there any "pass the smell test" requirement for the BW rankings?

LouisBW: Recruiters love it … that's why. It ranked sixth in our recruiter poll. Who knows SMU? Well, recruiters apparently.

frosario1: Can you speak to what caused the USC Marshall School of Business (Marshall Full-Time MBA Profile) to drop?

GeoffBW: Marshall's recruiter score dropped quite a bit. It did well in the student rank, though: ninth overall.

jimdrivening: Big move up for Georgia Tech College of Management (Georgia Tech Full-Time MBA Profile). What was the cause?

GeoffBW: Ninety-seven percent of grads had a job offer three months out, which is really good in a hiring market like this one. The school is quite small, which allows for a great deal of personal attention both in the classroom and in career matters.

spriord: What is considered second tier?

GeoffBW: Second tier is below 30 [in the U.S. ranking].

WMSmales: With the increased popularity of online/distance-learning MBA programs, do you see a ranking of top online business programs in the near future?

LouisBW: We don't have any plans at this point, but that doesn't mean we won't consider it at some point in the future.

gvlahaki: Where is Purdue University's Krannert School of Management (Krannert Full-Time MBA Profile) ranked?

GeoffBW: Forty-one.

EBF85: When will the next part-time rankings be done?

GeoffBW: 2011.

dryaer543: Why didn't Wharton overtake Harvard?

LouisBW: Wharton did worse on student satisfaction this year (compared to 2008). Students didn't have great things to say about the teaching. In fact, Wharton received a C in teaching, the lowest grade we award. I find it hard to believe that teaching is anything but excellent at Wharton, but that's what the students said.

AdamR: Do you think the economic downturn and bad job market adversely affected student's perception of career service satisfaction?

GeoffBW: At some schools, yes, but it seems like students came in knowing it wasn't going to be easy, and most schools prepared them early by explaining that it was going to be necessary to have multiple options. Career services, though, is a major part of the MBA experience. If that aspect of the program is lacking, it's not a surprise that student satisfaction would suffer.

manojgrover: Is Indian School of Business ranked among the top 18 international programs?

LouisBW: No, it's not. The school has not indicated a desire to take part in the rankings.

Techknow1: Will you be ranking the entire second tier?

GeoffBW: Yes. Fifty-eight [U.S.] schools [and 18 international programs] are ranked.

danesh: Does having nearly perfect scores on TOEFL-iBT and GMAT alone guarantee acceptance to a top 30 program?

LouisBW: I don't think anything guarantees acceptance. Stanford accepted 6 percent of applicants this year. There are no guarantees.

conncalvert131: Why is Tuck consistently lower in this ranking when others rank them as high as first place?

GeoffBW: Different methodologies.

Boiler: How close was Harvard from taking over the No. 1 spot?

GeoffBW: Booth has a pretty good lead over the other schools.

ash77: Where does the Broad School rank this year?

LouisBW: No. 20, which is a really nice performance for a school that's new to the top 30.

2010EMBA: Have you ever considered ranking schools by region? For instance, SMU would rank higher in the Southwest.

GeoffBW: We break the part-time MBA ranking down by regions. We haven't discussed it for full-time, but if someone wanted to do that with the ranking, it wouldn't be too difficult to break it down that way [using the B-School Comparator].

Josiepussycat: Which were the top five schools in student satisfaction?

GeoffBW: 1. Darden 2. Chicago 3. MIT Sloan School of Management (Sloan Full-Time MBA Profile) 4.UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business (Haas Full-Time MBA Profile) 5. Harvard.

Woodster: What is considered second tier for international schools?

GeoffBW: Eleven through 18.

damavand: In the top five, which component of the survey ends up being the determining factor that differentiates the schools?

LouisBW: In the top five, it appears that the recruiter survey is a bigger differentiator. The student survey and to a lesser extent intellectual capital can sway things, but recruiters really are the determining factor for that elite group.

Mark123: Was University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's College of Business (Illinois Full-Time MBA Profile) ranked?

GeoffBW: Forty-six.

SBbound: Do you honestly believe that these rankings are an accurate representation of the quality/value of schools?

LouisBW: Yes.

dzikakis: Do all of a school's graduates receive a survey from BW?

GeoffBW: All full-time, second-year MBA students receive a survey.

danesh: Have you considered the GMAT score of accepted students in your ranking?

LouisBW: We don't consider the GMAT in our ranking methodology, but the information is there in our interactive tables for prospective students who may be interested.

karamoore: How close were the schools that were ranked second to fifth in recruiter satisfaction?

GeoffBW: Very close.

Damavand: Have you ever thought about combining the international rankings with the general U.S. rankings?

LouisBW: We've given this some thought, but determined that for many reasons it's probably not feasible.

ads7480: Will you release a story in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine about the rankings?

GeoffBW: Yes. The content is also available online.

Gio: Does average GMAT/GPA count in these rankings?

GeoffBW: They are not factored into the ranking.

WMSmales: Are samples of the student and recruiter surveys available for review?

LouisBW: No.

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