Rankings 101: Understanding the Rankings and the Role of Student and Alumni surveys

Part of DasTor’s ongoing commitment to Thunderbird is to facilitate dialogue between the administration and the student body.  Kim Steinmetz, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, has composed an article directed at clarifying some misconceptions about business school rankings and show how both current students and alumni can contribute to greater positioning.  It is our hope that this piece will be the beginning a constructive conversation on Thunderbird’s future. Please comment below to share your opinion on this article or what other steps you would like to see DasTor and Thunderbird take to promote transparency.

As students you have likely received a survey, or multiple surveys in some cases, from media companies regarding your graduate degree program experience.  First off, I would like to thank you for your willingness to participate in these surveys.  And after having received numerous questions from students about these surveys, I would like to share a little more about what these surveys mean for us as a school.

As students and future alumni, your participation in surveys about Thunderbird holds considerable weight in the calculations used by top ranking organizations such as Bloomberg Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist and U.S. News & World Report. We value your honest feedback and want to thank you in advance for supporting Thunderbird by taking part in these surveys.

Your participation in these rankings surveys is important on two fronts. First, a predetermined percentage of survey responses are required for Thunderbird to qualify for ranking consideration. Second, your answers to these surveys are factored into Thunderbird’s scores. Keep in mind that many of these surveys are not sent to the entire student body or alumni network, but rather go only to graduates from a particular year or set of years, so it is important to respond if you receive a survey. When possible, Thunderbird will try to provide you with advanced notice on these surveys, by emailing you in advance of their release.  We hope that this will provide you with adequate advanced notice of the survey as well as let you know the level of importance in participation in the survey.

Many of the rankings are based on a combination of school-provided data as well as survey results from students, alumni, corporate recruiters and/or business school deans and program directors. The specific methodology varies by organization.

The snapshots below serve as a quick guide to how some of the most prominent b-school rankings are factored.

Bloomberg Businessweek – MBA
Methodology: Held every two years and based on academic reputation of the school (10 percent) combined with survey responses from MBA graduates (45 percent) and corporate recruiters (45 percent). The “International Business” specialty ranking
is based on student and alumni survey responses from the top 100 ranked schools.

Bloomberg Businessweek – Executive MBA
Methodology: Held every two years and based on survey responses from Executive
MBA graduating students (65 percent) and program directors (35 percent).

Economist Intelligence Unit – MBA
Methodology: Based on quantitative data supplied by the school (38 percent) combined with survey responses from MBA students and graduates (54 percent), and diversity of recruiters by industry (8 percent).

Economist Intelligence Unit – Distance Learning
Methodology: Based on quantitative data supplied by the school (80 percent) combined with survey responses from Online Global MBA students and graduates (20 percent).

Financial Times – MBA
Methodology: Based on annual survey responses from MBA alumni (12 percent) combined with recent graduate salary (43 percent), diversity of students, faculty, board (25 percent) and faculty/research (20 percent). The “International Business” specialty ranking is based on alumni survey responses from the top 100 ranked schools.

Financial Times – Executive MBA
Methodology: Based on quantitative data supplied by the school (45 percent) and survey responses from Executive MBA graduates (55 percent).

U.S. News & World Report – MBA
Methodology: Based on quantitative data supplied by the school (60 percent) combined with survey responses from corporate recruiters (15 percent), business school deans and program directors (25 percent). The “International Business” specialty ranking is based on survey responses from business school deans and program directors (100 percent).

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