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Report Urges Change in Media B-School Rankings

Report Urges Change in Media B-School Rankings 


The world’s first and largest business school accrediting association has called for the media to change the way it assigns rankings to MBA and undergraduate degree-granting institutions.

A report issued by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) acknowledges that while media rankings have helped promote business schools and, particularly, the MBA, the ranking methods used by the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Financial Times, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and other media outlets can have “serious negative impacts on business education.”

AACSB International’s report says the ranking process is based on inconsistent data and subjective opinions. “Instead of assisting students in the school selection process, the rankings may make it more confusing,” said John Fernandes, the association’s president and chief executive officer.

The report adds that rankings put too much emphasis on short-term performance and apply the same criteria, regardless of a school’s mission, orientation, or whether the best fit for a student is a non-ranked, high-quality program. Most importantly, Fernandes said, the rankings fail to consider differences in degree programs offered.

“Because of their visibility, b-school deans feel they must participate in the rankings process even when they know it could actually be contrary to the long-term development of a business school,” Fernandes said.

According to the report, media rankings, with rare exception, ignore part-time programs that involve approximately 80 percent of the MBA students in the United States. Additionally, headlines would lead one to conclude that they rate the entire business school, when they are most likely only concerned with full-time MBA programs, ignoring the many nontraditional MBA programs and significant, high-quality undergraduate programs.

“Studying for an MBA in the United States and in many other countries is for many a part-time activity,” said Fernandes. “Most MBA students are at the point in their career where they cannot afford to drop out of the workforce to study full-time. As a result, part-time, executive and special MBA programs — though very much the norm — are virtually ignored by the rankings.” 

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