ForumWatch: How Important is B-School Rank?

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on May 12, 2011

No one denies that business school rankings can help prospective students in their early research of MBA programs. But many question how much value to give MBA rankings, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report, the Economist, and Bloomberg Businessweek. The publications that conduct the research have all sorts of methodologies and the lists vary from organization to organization. Participants on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum often ask whether anything less than a top tier MBA is even worth having. The answers they receive might surprise you.

Some of our users are quick to say that if one is not enrolling in Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile), Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford Full-Time MBA Profile), or University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (Wharton Full-Time MBA Profile), then there’s no point in getting an MBA at all. Others disagree. Most experts - including MBA admissions directors and consultants - will say that the rankings are a good starting point but should not be the end of one’s research. They’ll say that a school’s rank does not matter nearly as much as an applicant’s personal goals, and the extent to which the program can help the applicant achieve them. Ultimately, most agree that prospective MBAs should apply to business schools where they’ll best fit in. Still, the question remains about whether one can get a decent return on an MBA investment if the degree comes from a poorly ranked program.

Recently, dexter89 signed onto the forum to ask whether a joint pharmacy/MBA degree at a low-ranking business school, fresh off an undergraduate program, would be worth the time and effort, or if it would be better to wait until garnering some work experience before attending a top 10 graduate business school. With affordability a concern, and a desire to work in pharmacy and not pursue a traditional MBA path, dexter89 wonders if one may as well get the degree now rather than put it off.

What do you think? Weigh in on the forum discussion thread, and offer your opinion and advice to dexter89.

- Francesca Di Meglio

Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of a series about discussions taking place on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum , where prospective B-school applicants, current students, and recent alumni trade admissions tips, job-hunting advice, and the occasional barbed comment. We invite you to join these discussions or start one of your own.

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Read daily reports from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Louis Lavelle, Geoff Gloeckler, Alison Damast and Francesca Di Meglio and boost your chances of getting into your best-fit B-school.

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